Welcome to the Black Press Research Collective (BPRC). The BPRC is dedicated to curating and producing knowledge about the historical and contemporary role of Black newspapers in the United States, African Diaspora and Africa.
The term “newspaper archive” can have several meanings. In the past few years, “newspaper archive” has evolved to describe an online collection of digital copies of articles from a newspaper. If you type “newspaper archive” into a search engine, you will see a large number of results, many of which link to free or paid sites that contain digitized copies of historical newspaper articles. Access to online digitized historical newspapers is incredibly valuable, sparing scholars many hours spent hunched over finicky microfilm readers. However, these articles are not all that newspaper archives have to offer.
People interested in conducting a thorough analysis of newspaper sources should consider the resources available in newspaper morgues. These morgues are composed of the supplemental materials contained in the physical archive of a given newspaper. Physical newspaper archives often contain additional materials that do not exist in digital newspaper archives. These materials may include bound volumes of the newspapers, newspaper morgue materials, institutional records, and personal papers of people associated with the newspaper. Currently, no physical newspaper archive has fully digitized these supplemental materials.
Archival newspaper morgues can answer questions which cannot be answered by simply reading articles published in newspapers. Scholars interested in how newspapers were received by readers, how reporters and editors decided what to publish, and the financing of newspapers will find these morgues incredibly useful.