The European Library has been digitizing old newspapers, indexing them and making them available to the general public at no charge. (Taxes are high over here, but one is rewarded with so many goodies such as this.) This is a project entitled Europeana Newspapers and is funded by the European Union through 2015. The newspapers come from the national libraries of:
- The Netherlands
- The Czach Republic
Germany's contributions come from the Berlin and Hamburg State Libraries.
Nearly a million and a half pages have been uploaded and can be searched thoroughly. They can be browsed by date, by country, and by newspaper title. Alternatively -- and here is how to find an ancestor -- they can be searched for a word. As with Gallica, the search refinement is rather clumsy, so a search on a common name will yield too much and it will be hard to filter usefully. If, however, you have an ancestor who went by an oddly spelt or slightly unusual name, you have a very good chance of finding him or her.
We have spent the past couple of days testing this new toy. We have been researching an American who lived in France in the nineteenth century, and who travelled quite a bit. We thought we knew all of his ports, but a search on these newspapers brought the discovery of two more countries where he had travelled. A second test was to search on the quite unusual name of a family from Montauban on which we have worked and this brought some very interesting new material as well, revealing a country not known to have been visited by one member of the family, and a discussion of his work there. A third test on a name that is also a common word was hopeless: over 300,000 results that no amount of filtering could reduce by more than a third or so
Though larger numbers of newspapers seem to have been contributed by Spain, it would appear that those from The Netherlands and Germany have more robust indexing, for no matter what name we put in the search box, the majority of the results were in Dutch, with many in German. To turn a language not known into gibberish, one can always stumble along with Google's translation effort.
Try this new newspaper toy!
©2014 Anne Morddel