Monday, September 23, 2013

Ten new MT newspapers on Chronicling America!

As Zoe Ann Stoltz, MHS Reference Historian, is fond of saying, “newspapers are the closest thing we have to a time machine.” That’s why I love the National Digitization Newspaper Program.

Montana newspapers available through Chronicling America

Library staff have been hard at work digitizing some of our historic newspaper collection. We now have sample issues (and a few full runs) digitized from 36 different Montana newspapers. Our total page count is now 127,664, distributed across 17,197 issues. A full list of Montana newspapers currently digitized is available here.

Most recently, ten new titles have been added:

  • Butte Inter Mountain
  • Culbertson Searchlight
  • New North-west (Deer Lodge)
  • Malta Enterprise
  • Producers News (Plentywood)
  • The River Press (Fort Benton)
  • Rocky Mountain Husbandman (Diamond City)
  • Ronan Pioneer
  • Suffrage News (Helena)
  • Sun River Sun

The Missoulian run has grown from one to five years (1909-14), and the Helena Independent now has continuous coverage from 1889 through 1894. Brief abstracts for the titles are available here. 

Other states’ newspapers available through Chronicling America

Looking for newspapers outside of Montana? Thirty-six states and Puerto Rico are also actively digitizing their newspapers. See all of the papers available through the Chronicling America Website (and remember, the site is regularly adding more titles).

Lesson Ideas Using Chronicling America

Looking for ideas of how to use these in the classroom? Here are a few hints:

  • Ask students: What was happening on your birthday 100 or 75 years ago? 
  • Play “newspaper bingo” to explore the social world of the era you are studying (Sample bingo cards and instructions are available here.
  • Have students go shopping in the ads to answer the question “what can I buy now, what could I buy then”?
  • Have students research how newspapers of the time portrayed certain significant events (See this useful post on conducting advance searches on the Chronicling America website.)
  • Use our lesson plan, “Thinking Like a Historian,” to have students explore what life was like in Virginia City, Montana, by conducting newspaper research. 
  • Compare events as described in a reminiscence, letter, or other source to the account of the same event in the newspaper (see our page 21 of our study guide for Girl from the Gulches: the Story of Mary Ronan, for an example). 
  • Have students write up a column to be published in your local newspaper or radio station, “This Week in Montana History” (hat tip to Renee Rasmussen, who did something like this with her Chester High School English students.) 

Looking for even more ideas? Edsitement has more suggestions for you.

Other Sources for Newspapers

I like Chronicling America because its interface is the most friendly and it is (relatively) easy to search. But if your students are conducting local history projects, and the newspapers you want are NOT available through Chronicling America, they might still be able to find relevant articles through other sources. A list of freely available digitized Montana newspapers is here.

In addition, the Montana Historical Society has 95% of all the newspapers ever published in Montana on microfilm. Your library can interlibrary loan up to five reels of microfilm for thirty days at a time.

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