It should go without saying that an academic librarian is a newspaper scholar’s “best friend.” However, it is still prudent to make this clear, as we tend to forget their efforts and the time they spend in creating resources which allow us to access difficult to find newspapers. This is especially true in the case of Nicholas (Nick) Okrent, Information Literacy & Undergraduate Services Librarian and Christine Murray and Social Sciences Data Services Librarian at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center at the University of Pennsylvania. They have created an incredibly useful list (Historical Newspapers Online) of over 800 newspaper sites, which can be filtered down to approximately 100 African American newspapers. Many of the newspapers have been digitized through the Library of Congress Chronicling America, Historic Newspapers project. However, Nick and Christine’s resource makes it much easier to identify where historical Black newspapers are located.
The resource’s streamline interface offered me an opportunity to quickly identify and locate two relatively obscure Black newspapers published in Montana in the early twentieth century. Clicking on the link provided takes you directly to digitized copies of the newspapers.
One of the more interesting features of the resource is that it offers users the ability to examine ten Black student newspapers that are located on the map. These papers transport users to historically Black College and University campuses, providing a window into student activism, which mirrored and sometimes expanded beyond African American activism outside of academic institutions. Another feature of the resource allows you to examine timelines for newspapers. This makes it quite easy to see at a glance the issues of particular Black student newspapers that are available online.
Newspaper resources such as the one created by Nick and Christine should remind us that having digitized newspapers is only valuable if we have the ability to locate and access them.