Skip to main content

Finding historical U.S. newspapers at Princeton

What papers were published in [time, place]?

To identify U.S. papers from a particular time and place, consult Chronicling America: Newspaper Directory at the Library of Congress. This draws on several older bibliographies:

  • Brigham, Clarence Saunders. History and bibliography of American newspapers, 1690-1820. Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1947-1961.
    Trustee Reading Room Reference (DR) Z6951 .B86
  • Gregory, Wilfrid. American newspapers, 1821-1936: a union list of files available in the United States and Canada. New York: Kraus Reprint Copr., 1967.
    Trustee Reading Room Reference (DR) Z6951 .A498 1967q
  • Lathem, Edward Connery. Chronological tables of American newspapers, 1690-1820; being a tabular guide to holdings of newspapers published in America through the year 1820. [Worcester, Mass.] American Antiquarian Society [c1972]
    RECAP Z6951 .L3
    Very useful summary of the papers listed in Brigham; arranged year-by-year for each state.
  • A check list of American eighteenth century newspapers in the Library of Congress. Originally compiled by John Van Ness Ingram. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1936. Firestone Z6951 .U47
  • Newspapers in microform. [Compiled and edited by the Catalog Publication Division, Library of Congress]. Washington: The Library, 1973-1983.
    Firestone Z6945 .N754
    Lists the newspapers held in microform by the Library of Congress [and other institutions] at the time of publication.

I need information about ownership, circulation and political orientation

Concrete information about a newspaper's ownership, circulation, and readership can be elusive. First, search for a book or article on the paper in which you are interested. Otherwise, consult a general directory of newspapers and periodicals for the period of interest:

Annual directories of U.S. newspapers:

  • Rowell's American Newspaper Directory (title changes to American Newspaper Directory in 1886)
    Annex A, Forrestal 0404.79 -- this directory was published annually from 1869-1908, but we have only 1872, 1879-1880, and 1897
    In 1909, Rowell's directory was absorbed by the competing Ayer's American Newspaper Annual (1880-1909), which then became
  • Ayer Directory of newspapers and periodicals
    N.W. Ayer & Son's directory of newspapers and periodicals (1869-1919)
    Digital edition provided by the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program.
    N.W. Ayer & Son's directory of newspapers and periodicals (1930-1969)
    RECAP 0404.137
    Library has: 1936-1968 [lacks: 1944,1966]
    The title changed to Ayer directory, newspapers, magazines, and trade publications for 1970-1971 (RECAP: Z6951.A97) and then to Ayer directory of publications for 1972-1982 (RECAP: Z6951.A97) and then to The IMS ... Ayer directory of publications for 1983-1985 (RECAP: Z6951.A97) and then to The ... IMS directory of publications for 1986. (After this, it was absorbed by the Gale directory of publications, below.)
  • Gale Directory of Publications
    RECAP: Z6951 .A97 (1987-1989)
    Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media
    RECAP: Z6951 .A97 (1990-2002); now superceded by the online Gale Directory Library
  • Working Press of the Nation
    Annex A, Forrestal Z6951 .xW62 (1945-2003)
  • Bowker's News Media Directory
    Continues Working Press of the Nation, 2004 onwards. Annex A, Forrestal Z6951 .xW62
  • Willing's press guide
    Covers international press, including U.S.
    RECAP: Z6956.E5 W5 (1914-2014); current volume in Ready Reference in the Trustee Reading Room.

For circulation figures for 20th-century papers, see Editor and publisher. International year book number. Firestone Oversize PN4700.E4q (covers 1938 to present).

To locate books on the history of a particular newspaper, do a keyword search in the Main Catalog for the name of the paper, e.g. "new york herald tribune"

The world's great dailies: profiles of fifty newspapers. John C. Merrill and Harold A. Fisher. New York: Hastings House, c1980.
Trustee Reading Room Reference (DR) PN4731 .M446
Very useful essays on 50 major papers, U.S. and foreign.

If Princeton doesn't have the newspaper I need, how can I get it?

If Princeton does not hold the newspaper you need, you may be able to obtain microfilm of the paper through Interlibrary Loan. In particular, many newspapers are available on microfilm from the Center for Research Libraries, an organization of which Princeton is a member. CRL collects not only mainstream U.S. papers, but also U.S. ethnic papers (searchable by ethnic group in their online catalog) and foreign newspapers. There is a printed catalog of CRL's holdings as of 1978:
The Center for Research Libraries catalogue--newspapers. Chicago: The Center, 1978. RECAP Z6945 .xC533 1978

The Library of Congress, state archives and libraries, local historical societies, and some large public libraries have substantial collections of local U.S. newspapers, in print and in microfilm, often including titles available nowhere else. The New York Public Library also has a substantial collection of newspapers. Much of this material is not available through Interlibrary Loan, so you must travel to the archive or library to see the paper you need. To find out where you might find a specific newspaper, check Worldcat or one of the guides listed above.

A useful (but dated) guide to several important newspaper collections is:
Untapped sources: America's newspaper archives and histories. Prepared for the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Newspaper History Task Force by the Gannett Foundation Media Center at Columbia University in the City of New York; written by Jon Vanden Heuvel; edited by Craig LaMay and Martha FitzSimon. [New York: Columbia University; 1991.]
Firestone Z6951 .V26