We’ve always been keen on The Memory Thing–putting local news archives, genealogical information and similar items online. Who says a TeleRead-style library effort should involve e-books alone, as important as they are? For a hint of the possibilities, check out NewspaperARCHIVE.com. Self-description of topics covered:
What made the news in the 1700’s? What about world events on your birthday? Was your great-grandparents’ wedding announcement posted in their home town news? How about your ancestors’ obituaries?
Monthly membership is $12.95, and the yearly amount is $79.95. For your money you get access to a collection of small-town papers and some from larger cities, and that’s the catch–far from universal coverage. I’m baffled why, right on up front on the site, the company does not offer a link to a listing of items in their collection. Perhaps this will change as the archive grows. To the credit of the archive, it at least posts the complaints of readers, not just the positives, and that’s a plus.
All in all, I found this site to be a real trip–back to the past. I saw item after item of references to some old friends of mine from the newspaper business, and similarly I can see political junkies and civic activists using these archives for both practical and nostalgic reasons. Not to mention the K-12 potential for history classes and others! Want children to know how The Great Depression affected people locally? This just could be the place for them to go. Remember, we’re talking about searchable text here, not just the usual, hard-to-use microfilm collection. Suffering those horridly obsolete machines does not build character–just impatience with both the private and public sectors for not replacing them more quickly with a digital approach.
But back to NewspaperARCHIVE.com. Just please give the search box a good workout on sample words, especially the name of your city, to make certain you’ll get your money’s worth before you sign up for acess to the full text rather than just little preview snippets.