Dusty old newspapers are treasure troves of fascinating information, valuable historical context, and rich primary source material. They are also a great way to encourage students to immerse themselves in the past—on their own, in school, or at home. Created through a partnership of The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, Chronicling America offers visitors the ability to search and view newspaper pages from 1836–1922 and to find information about American newspapers published between 1690–present.
EDSITEment has added a new portal to help users navigate and utilize the Chronicling America site.
Chronicling America is a boon for teaching primary source research skills such as gathering and evaluating information, analysis, comparison and contrast, critical thinking, and the use of technology. These newly digitized newspaper pages can also enrich and extend EDSITEment lesson plans by providing students with first-hand accounts of the past time.
Through Chronicling America you can view newspaper pages from 1836 to 1922 from Arizona, the District of Columbia, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. As the project is ongoing, the greatest concentration of material that is currently available online is from 1900–1922, but Chronicling America is continuously expanding the date range and States of the newspapers in its collection. You can search Chronicling America by keyword or by using the suggested list of topics. The Library of Congress also has an RSS feed that regularly highlights notable news items from 100 years ago. (Remember, however, that since these newspapers are unfiltered primary source material, they reflect the opinions and attitudes of the writers and the times and may be offensive to our modern sensibilities.)
In the sections that follow are some articles that you might consider using in your classroom with EDSITEment lesson plans. Take some time to delve into the past and to enjoy what you will find there! (To isolate text, draw zoom-box around red highlighted areas.)
See art with a different perspective! Chronicling America ties in with Picturing America, NEH's exciting project that brings masterpieces of American art into classrooms and libraries nationwide. A number of the artists featured in Picturing America were producing art at the turn of the century and articles and features on their work complement EDSITEment's Picturing America lesson plans.
Below are some other links to artists showcased in Picturing America as they appeared in turn of the century newspapers.
Consider making use of material in Chronicling America to:
Historical newspapers provide valuable primary source material because they allow students to investigate the past directly.
You might also be interested in reading about:
Chronicling America is a gold mine for records of historical moments relevant to events in today's news. For example, explore the NAACP's one hundred plus years of fighting for the civil rights of ethnic minorities in the United States. Using newspaper reports, teach your students about the horrific historical realities of lynching and the Jim Crow laws to help them understand how much the NAACP has accomplished.
Below are some links to additional suggestions for articles that connect the past to the present.
Honey peddler reading newspaper in market, San Antonio, Texas. 1944. Image courtesy of The Library of Congress.