TechMan has been in the digital attic again, and he has found some new treasures.
A column on Sept. 14 told how you can view old copies of the Post-Gazette on Google, which I call "going to the digital attic."
Just to review quickly, go to google.com and click "more" at the top of the page, then "even more" from the dropdown menu. On the resulting page, you'll see, about halfway down on the left, "News -- now with archive search." Click on the words "archive search."
There you will see in small letters next to the search box the words "advanced archive search." Click there. On the resulting page, type Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the box labeled "source" and enter your search term. You will now search only the Post-Gazette for your information. You also can search by date.
Once your search has returned results and you click on one of them, you'll get an image of the article and at the top of that page underlined in blue, the name of the newspaper and the date. If you click there, you will see the entire newspaper for that day, complete with photos, ads and stories. You can "leaf" through page by page using the page number box at the top or by clicking and dragging on the page itself.
Poking around in the digital attic, TechMan found that older precursor papers of the Post-Gazette are available. The Post-Gazette was formed in 1927 by a merger of papers, themselves the result of the merger of other papers. Two of those older papers can be viewed on Google.
If, in the source box, you type Commercial Gazette and then search on "Pittsburgh" or "Allegheny" to filter out other papers of the same name, you get stories from that paper, published from 1866 to 1900, although it appears that it is available digitally back to only 1877. The same thing works for Gazette-Times, published from 1900 to 1927 (and apparently available back to 1908.)
Now to some questions from readers. Two readers with a genealogical bent wrote that they had trouble finding obituaries by searching on names. TechMan tried with varying results.
A few possible explanations. First, not all editions are available. Some may have gone missing over the years. And not every death resulted in an obituary.
But a call to Google revealed that in order for a search to work, the word on the page on microfilm must be indexed by an optical character reader (OCR) machine. If the page is blurred or damaged or otherwise obscured (and remember these films were made from paper copies with printing that was more crude and that may have been damaged or worn), the OCR can't read it and that term will not be searchable.
My advice to genealogists is if your search fails and you know the date of death of the person, enter the word "Pittsburgh" and the date in the date fields of advanced search, then leaf through for the obits. Also look at days afterward because obits don't always appear right after a death.
Two readers wrote in about the availability of other area papers in the archive search, particularly The Pittsburgh Press. The Post-Gazette owns the rights to the Press archives, but they have not been digitized yet. This may happen in the future.
As to other area papers, the Tribune Review is available, but it does not appear to go back to microfilmed copies. TechMan was unsuccessful in finding other local papers. However, there are many papers throughout the country that have archives available on Google.
Another reader wrote in and said she could not find a link to the microfilm archives on the Post-Gazette Web site. That is because there is not one -- yet. Stay tuned.
And finally, a reader wrote to ask why she has to pay for certain stories. Starting in 1990, the PG had a third-party vendor digitizing content. For those articles, there is a charge. But beginning in 1998 and after, an increasing number of articles became available free through Post-Gazette.com.
I hope this has helped. Meanwhile, TechMan is heading for the digital attic to read about great Pirates victories of 1919.