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Newspapers as Primary Sources

Newspapers can be an important primary source for historical research, providing a first look at events.

For further newspaper source information see the WSU LibGuide Newspapers and News.

Searching Fulltext Newspaper Databases

Fulltext newspaper databases may be more difficult to search successfully than article or book databases.  Newspaper article headlines are more succinct and publishing practices may be very different depending on the era. Try these tips for searching:

  • Limit your search by publication type such as articles, editorials, letter to the editor, etc.
  • Limit your search by date
  • Use the Advanced Search option and keep trying different keyword combinations
  • Search your keywords in the headline only.
  • Spelling and language change over time; look for common usage in other articles at the time of your event or topic.  Country and place names, references to culture and race, names of diseases, and how crime is referenced are all examples of language that may be different.

Digitized Historic Newspapers

Links to WSU-subscribed newspaper databases and selected freely available digitized newspapers. To find additional digitized newspapers see ICON: International Coalition on Newspapers.

Freely available newspaper databases:

WSU Libraries newspaper databases (requires WSU login):

Selected Newspapers on Microfilm

The WSU Libraries has an extensive collection of historic newspapers on microfilm housed in the Microforms area on the first floor of Holland Library, including newspapers from the Pacific Northwest, the nation, and international newspapers.  Some of these newspapers are from smaller or rural towns and have not been digitized (e.g. Eastern Washington newspapers). The best way to identify available newspapers on microfilm is to search the WSU Libraries Catalog for the title of the newspaper.  Printers and scanners are available to make copies.

Contemporary Newspapers

For contemporary newspaper coverage (roughly since 1990) search the WSU Libraries catalog under the name of the newspaper or check large newspaper databases.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us