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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chronicling America: One of the Coolest, Most Underused Resources Out There

I had a great time visiting with the teachers who stopped by our booth at the MEA-MFT conference. Many were absolutely amazed by the digitized newspapers available through Chronicling America, a searchable newspaper database produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Although I've been singing Chronicling America's praises since 2012, enough teachers hadn't heard of it (and enough new material is available through it) that I've decided CA will be the focus of the next few posts. 

Chronicling America now has over 10,000,000 digitized newspaper pages from 40 states, including pages from 79 different titles in Montana:

Glasgow Courier (1915-22) * Neihart Herald (1891-1900) * Anaconda Standard (1889-99) * Great Falls Leader (1888-89) * New Age (1902-03) * Benton Record (1875-84) * Great Falls Tribune (1885-96, 1919-22) * New North-West (1869-97) * Billings Gazette (1899-1909) * Harlowton News (1909-14) * Philipsburg Mail (1887-1901) * Billings Herald (1882-85) * Havre Herald (1904-08) * Producers News (1918-22) * Bozeman Avant Courier (1871-79) * Helena Herald (1872-83) * Ravalli Republican (1894-98) * Bozeman Chronicle (1883-88) * Helena Independent (1889-94) * Red Lodge Picket (1889-1902) Judith Gap Journal (1909-13) * River Press (1880-88, 1902-14) * The Powder River County Examiner & the Broadus Independent (1919-22) * Kalispell Bee (1900-03) * Rocky Mountain Husbandman (1875-84) * Butte Daily Bulletin (1919-20) * Libby Herald (1911-13) * Ronan Pioneer (1911-17) * Butte Inter Mountain (1899-1903) * Livingston Enterprise (1884-92) * Rosebud County News (1901-06) * Butte Miner (1879-89) * Madisonian (1895-96) * Roundup Record (1908-13) * Colored Citizen (1894) * Malta Enterprise (1908-16) * Suffrage Daily News (1914) * Cut Bank Pioneer Press (1911-17) * Mineral Argus (1883-86) * Sun River Sun (1884-85)Dillon Tribune (1881-87) * Missoulian (1909-14, 1917-18) * Whitefish Pilot (1908-12) * Dupuyer Acantha (1894-1901) * Montana News (1904-12) * Wibaux Pioneer (1907-14) Ekalaka Eagle (1909-16) * Montana Nonpartisan (1918-19) * Yellowstone Journal (1882-94) * Fergus County Argus (1886-1906) * Montana Plaindealer (1906-11) * Yellowstone Monitor (1908-15) * Fergus County Democrat (1904-16) * Montana Post (1864-69) * Western News (1900-10) ... with Helena Herald (1884-1889) and Butte Daily Post (1917) coming soon!


Of special note are the more than a dozen marvelous pictorial editions that the newspaper staffs typically spent a year preparing, for example, the Livingston Enterprise's Souvenir edition, published January 1, 1900.

People of all ages LOVE exploring historic newspapers, which are the closest thing to a time machine we have. Here are a few simple ideas to get your students started:
  • Do you do Newspapers in Education? How about comparing today's paper with a historic newspaper from the same date--and maybe even from your town?  
  • Go shopping. "What can I buy now/What could I buy then" is a great quick starting point for exploring a different period of history.
  • Play "newspaper bingo." This is another way to explore the social world of the era you are studying (Sample bingo cards and instructions are available here.) 
  • Research specific, high-interest events referenced in your textbook or literature study (e.g., the sinking of the Titanic.)
  • Investigate holidays. Can you find stories about Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, or Valentine's Day?

How are YOU using Chronicling America in your classroom? Let me know and I'll include it in a future post.

p.s. For those looking for more guidance, the Library of Congress is hosting a free online conference, "Unlocking the Power of Primary Sources," October 27-28, 2:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. MST. You can register for individual sessions, including "Teaching with Historical Newspapers," 4-4:50 MST, on October 28. Honestly, the entire schedule looks great, so check it out

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