Are you the type who, when cleaning out the attic, is distracted by reading the old newspapers you should be bundling for recycling?
If the everyday details of past local news are your cup of tea, Google and the Post-Gazette have a tool for you.
If you go to the Google home page (google.com) and click “more” at the top then “even more” from the dropdown menu, you’ll see about halfway down the resulting list “News — now with archive search.” Click on the words “archive search.”
Using archive search you can find past stories from the Post-Gazette. Stories after 1990 you can find at post-gazette.com and the 1990-98 stories that were compiled by an outside service may carry a fee for a complete look, but it is the 1926 to 1989 newspapers that we’re concerned with here.
The Post-Gazette and a number of other papers have partnered with Google to allow the digitizing of microfilm archives. That project has come to fruition.
Bear with TechMan as he explains how to use this tool, or just go there and play around with it yourself.
Many different papers show up in an archive search. To find Post-Gazette material, go to “advanced archive search” (to the right of the search box), and on the resulting page, type Pittsburgh Post-Gazette into the box labeled “source.” Then type a search term into one of the search boxes and click the “search archives” button. If you click on one of the results, you will see a reproduction of that article as it appeared on the PG page.
If you click on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the date underlined in blue at the top of the page, you can see the entire newspaper for that day, complete with photos, ads and stories. You can “leaf” through the paper page by page. Quality of the images depends on how good the source microfilm was.
If you click on the headline of any story on those pages, you’ll get a magnified version of the story.
To directly find an issue of the PG for a specific day, on the advanced search page leave the search term boxes blank, fill in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as the source and fill in a one-day date range (e.g. 10/09/1935 to 10/09/1935.) When you search you’ll see an article from that day’s paper and can then switch to whole-page view. There are some days that come up missing for whatever reason.
There are some other nifty features, such as timeline, but TechMan will leave those for you to explore.
So other than being a great tool for genealogy and researching local history, what good is this, you might ask. Well, TechMan is always after the entertainment value.
Without having to go to the Carnegie Library or the Post-Gazette office to use the microfilm reader, you can see what Judge Parker was doing in the comics in 1962 (the evil Mr. Hugo was trying to persuade the lovely Bonnie to become a shill for Super Vitalization Tablets).
You can see where the Pirates stood on Aug. 11, 1939 (1312 games back of Cincinnati but above .500 at .510.)
Or you can see the hot issues on the editorial pages, where columnist Dorothy Thompson was writing that “horror comic books” caused youths to kill their fathers, murder babies, impregnate young girls and help the Communists to subvert our society. Just like video games.
So whether for entertainment or serious research, digitized newspaper archives are a boon. And you don’t have to clean out the attic.