I recently found a rabbit hole that has me mesmerized.
It is the largest online archive of newspapers. More than 18,400 newspapers dating from the 1700s to the 2000s. It is incredible.
There’s a 7-day free trial if you want to have a look around. A 6-month subscription is $72.
The entire archive is searchable—it brings up the scanned pages of newspapers with the search words highlighted, so you can see exactly how an article looked.
Small-town newspapers were the Facebook of the day. You see notices like:
You get not-great recipes:
People had spectacular names: Erroll Thelonious Boglin. Malachi Hunter. Miss Tennessee Owens. Edrena Parnell.
And the newspapers had great names, too: The Opelika Weekly Locomotive. Bangor Whig and Courier. Centerville Newsette.
You see history reported in real time, and that may be the thing that most interests me. The wholesale subjugation of Blacks is stunning to see, right there in these small-town newspapers. Runaway slave ads on the front page of the newspaper. Defenses of the Ku Klux Klan, delivered in matter-of-fact op-eds. This is the raw stuff of history, as it happened. It’s one thing to read a history of racism; it’s another thing to see it played out, day by day.
I can’t stop going back to these newspapers, thinking of new searches. With a huge archive like this, there’s no end to it.