Thursday, April 18, 2013

Extra, Extra! More Montana Newspapers Are Now Available through Chronicling America

As many of you know, Chronicling America is one of my favorite sites. The Montana Historical Society is actively digitizing Montana newspapers. The good news is that we have just added an additional 7 titles (and 25,000 pages) of historical Montana newspapers (1865-1922) to the Chronicling America web site. The new titles are:
  • Great Falls Tribune, 1885-1896
  • Daily Missoulian, 1909
  • Harlowton News, 1909-1914
  • Libby Herald, 1911-1913
  • Montana Plaindealer (Helena), 1906-1911
  • Philipsburg Mail, 1887-1901
  • Yellowstone Monitor (Glendive), 1908-1912
This is in addition to the thousands of pages we already had posted from the Anaconda Standard, Butte New Age, Colored Citizen (Helena), Daily Yellowstone Journal (Miles City), Fergus County Argus, Mineral Argus (Maiden), Montana News (Lewistown), Helena Independent.

Every word is full-text searchable, and every page can be freely viewed, zoomed, cropped, copied, or printed. One caution—some of the pages on these new papers can be slow to load. The Library of Congress says that load times will improve as more pages are cached. (For a page to be cached, someone has to look at it first. So do your part for researchers everywhere and get exploring!)

Of course, new technology is always a little daunting, and in Chronicling America, as with all large digital collections, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for—especially at first. TPS Barat’s blog, which focuses on primary sources from the Library of Congress, has just put together a very useful post “Advanced Search Tips: Chronicling America Historic Newspapers” that can make your (and your students’) research more fruitful. 

If you are looking for even more guidance, consider using one of the lesson plans we’ve created with Billings school librarian Ruth Ferris.

“Thinking  like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom”  asks students to explore daily life in Virginia City during the gold rush before the coming of the railroad, using the following essential questions: “How has life changed and how has it remained the same? How does transportation affect daily life? What would it have been like to live in Virginia City during the gold rush?”

Three additional Chronicling America lesson plans were included in the new study guide for Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan. Two of them can be adapted to use without reading the anchor text and can easily be adapted to other time periods. “What Can You Buy? What Could Mary Buy?” has students looking at advertisements today and in the 1860s, and choosing presents for themselves and their family. The second, “Found Poetry,” asks students to create a found poem, based on an article from the Montana Post.

Looking for a really simple entry into the newspapers? Ask students: What was happening on your birthday 100 or 75 years ago? Or have them play newspaper bingo.

Many other folks are also creating Chronicling America lesson plans. See here for more details.

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