Google News Archive Expands: See Articles in Context

google_news_logo_sep08.pngGoogle just announced an interesting update to its Google News Archive, which, starting today, will not only feature the electronic text of a lot more historical newspapers, but also a scanned copy of the actual paper. While having access to the text itself is already great for researchers, having access to an article in the context of the whole paper is even more useful. For now, however, only a select group of newspapers are available in this form and a lot of the historical material is still stuck behind pay walls.

Articles in Context

Being able to browse through an article in the context of the paper version is a great step forward for researchers. Before, you would either have to dust off old copies in an archive or operate an antiquated microfilm machine (without the ability to do a full-text search, of course). Now, at least in theory, you can just type in a search query and Google will not only do a full-text search of the historical archives, but also show you all the advertising and related articles in the paper itself.

The interface is very similar to the Google Books UI, with the ability to zoom in and out, jump to a specific page, see the page in full-screen etc. One difference, though, is that the advertising is a lot more prominent in this version of the interface.


Hard to Find

All of this sounds great in theory. However, while we were trying out these new functions, we were barely able to find any material that was presented in this new way. As Google itself points out, not every search will trigger this new content, but if it does, the link will say "Google News Archive." Also, it is important to note that a lot of the historical material has been licensed from ProQuest and Heritage, which charge for access to their archives (unless you are, for example, on a college campus that subscribes to these services).

Over time, Google is planning to integrate these newspaper results into the main search results on, but for now Google is keeping the index of the News Archive separate from the main index.


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