September 30, 2010

Wisconsin InfoLink: Another way to go back in time

Wisconsin InfoLink is an almanac of Wisconsin facts and resources compiled by Ron Larson. Each week on the WisconsinWatch blog, Larson introduces us to some of these gems.

When you need information, one of the best resources to begin your research is a newspaper archive. Until recently, there weren’t many places to go online for a large collection of newspapers without having to pay for your results.

On my last blog posting, I focused on the newly launched Wisconsin Newspapers Digital Research site on BadgerLink. It’s a great searchable resource of Wisconsin newspapers since 2005 and it’s free.

The one big problem with the site: BadgerLink has buried the link so the casually browsing user will not see it.

But another great resource, which does appear on BadgerLink’s main page, is Access NewspaperArchive. (I’ve bookmarked it for you at Wisconsin InfoLink’s Education tab, too.) According to the BadgerLink promo, “AccessNewspaperArchive contains millions of searchable newspaper pages, dating as far back as the 1700s, presented in a pdf format that preserves the original context and format of content.”

Featured: Wisconsin InfoLink: Education > BadgerLink > Access NewspaperArchive

When you are looking for that one bit of historical information, such as your grandmother’s birth announcement or the big fire that happened in your hometown in 1921, AccessNewspaperArchive is a very handy research tool. For more in-depth research questions, however, this resource can be a bit unwieldy. Setting up the search criteria is clunky and tedious. It certainly is not the most intuitive search page you will encounter.

But this collection is valuable. It contains newspapers from all across the country, including hundreds from Wisconsin, most of which are no longer in print.

As with other postings on BadgerLink, if you have a Wisconsin-based Internet provider or a Wisconsin library card, you will have free access to AccessNewspaperArchive.

Even though AccessNewspaperArchive is handy for those special historical research needs, my opinion is the new Wisconsin Newspapers Digital Research site will be more valuable on more occasions to most people. So, please, BadgerLink, link to Wisconsin Newspapers Digital Research site on your front page!

Just in case BadgerLink isn’t listening, I am preparing a special newspaper subject area on Wisconsin InfoLink with bookmarks to a number of important databases.  So stay tuned. It should  be available soon.