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Searching Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America is a National Endowment for the Humanities/Library of Congress project to digitize and provide free online access to historical newspapers from across the United States. The database provides nearly 4 million historic newspaper pages found in more than 500 newspaper titles from 30 states and the District of Columbia, spanning 1836-1922.

Basic Search


The below image shows the Basic Search screen. Basic search options are limited to state, time period, and keywords located near each other.





Advanced Search


Advanced searching can be performed by clicking on the Advanced Search tab on the homepage. The Advanced Search screen provides more search options than Basic Search, including more specific date range searching and keyword proximity searching.




General Tips for Using Chronicling America


1. Common words such as and, not, and the are ignored by the search engine.

2. Upper case letters are ignored. For example: Missouri versus missouri are treated the same.

3. The search engine utilizes stemming. For example, the search term horse will also return horses.

4. Diacritic characters, including accent marks and other special characters, may produce inaccurate results.

5. Use historically pertinent terms and phrases rather than modern words used today. For example, consider using Great War instead of World War I or World War One for articles dealing with the First World War prior to 1939. You might want to use the word carriage in place of automobile for articles appearing in the early 20th century, or suffrage instead of voting rights. Familiarizing yourself with the terminology of the period that you are researching can be very helpful. The John Vaughan Library reference collection contains a number of useful publications for this purpose. Below are some examples of dictionaries that can help identify period and regional terminology:

Dictionary of American Regional English / 6 vols. (Ref. PE 2843 .D52)
Dictionary of the American West (Ref. PE 2970 .W4B5)
Happy Trails: A Dictionary of Western Expressions (Ref. PE 2970 .W4H46)
The Language of the Mormon Pioneers (Ref. PE 2970 .W4G58)
Western Words: A Dictionary of the American West ((Ref. PE 2970 .W4A3)
Whistlin' Dixie: A Dictionary of Southern Expressions (Ref. PE 2926 .H46)

6. Chronicling America will look for your search terms within the newspaper page. Another way to put it: Unlike many databases, Chronicling America will not search a term across more than one page.

7. The keywords that you entered in the search query will be highlighted in red on the page. To move around the page hold down on the left mouse button and move the mouse. Left click on the mouse to enlarge the image.

8. The easiest way to print or download an image is to select the PDF link. You can also print and download specific sections of a page with the use of the scissors icon in the upper right corner of the image screen.

Historical U.S. Newspaper Directory (1690-Present)


The U.S. Newspaper Directory linked from Chronicling America can be very useful in identifying newspapers that are not in full text on the database:



Gary Cheatham

  • Department of History
  • College of Liberal Arts Web site

  • Page maintained by: Gary Cheatham cheatham@nsuok.edu
    Last Updated: 10/14/2013