The Digital Age has granted historians variable Internet tools that have helped them find useful information on the World Wide Web. One such tool is Google News Archive, a news specific search engine/archive from Google. The search engine offers historians and casual readers a wealth of information from newspapers around the world. This engine grants these people many advantages, however, when it comes to the archive on the site there are serious drawbacks, which I feel holds the site back from its true potential.
Google News Archive is set-up like Google but the focus is on news articles. The site groups related articles together in order to present the reader with a wide array of perspectives on a particular topic. The reader can also refine the search to find what he or she wants. The site has a large selection of topics from Science to Politics. It even gives non-English speaking readers the ability to find papers in their own languages. However, when I tried to access the archival section of the site I ran into problems.
The site does have an archival area but accessing it is more difficult than it should be. According to Google News they don’t have the archive built into their site anymore. Instead they offer two methods of accessing articles that are more than 30 days old. One is using the Search Tools button on Google to find the newspaper the reader wants. The second is to use site: google.com/newspapers “Search Item” on Google.
I tried both options using the New Jersey newspapers Asbury Park Press and The Star-Ledger. I got nothing on the first option. I got results using the second method but they were not the newspapers I wanted.
Looking at the archive, which can be accessed by using the second option, I discovered that the newspapers they have are from publishers who are out-of-business. They don’t have scanned papers from current newspapers like Asbury Park Press. Also the scanned materials they have are not all from New Jersey.
In terms of helping historians, Google News Archive gives them mixed results. They can’t get papers from publishers who are still around and the papers the site does have are limited to certain areas, so historians would find a small amount of information. That said, for historians who want to find information in the areas that are covered this is a great site. Some papers in the archive go all the way back to the 19th century. This is also true for those who want to study New Jersey history. One example is the Newark Sunday Call which goes all the way back to 1881. But the downside here is there is even less material concerning New Jersey.
In the end Google News Archive is not a bad Internet tool. It may have some problems and its archive is too complicated to access, historians can still find some variable information using this. They just have to know what they are looking for and the limitations of the site.