Newspaper Research

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 06/23/06 09:51 AM

Todd Karr and Richard Hatch, in the Erdnase thread, have presented some of their research which came from old newspapers. I've been recently helping Mark Damon with some material on Johnny Oaks that I've found in newspaper databases. Digitized newspaper archives are a trove of information, largely untapped by magic researchers.

There are four big online digitized subscription archives.

1. HERE -- Lots of newspapers, all over the country, but what they have almost seems random. I think they are associated with Heritage Microfilms, which does most of the U.S. microfilming of newspapers that you see in public and university libraries, and are slowly digitizing the microfilms that Heritage has done. You can subscribe directly with them ($71.40 per year) or by joining ($179.40 per year; more expensive, but includes access to other data sets and archives).

2. Historical Newspapers. HERE Supplies digitized searches for:

New York Times: 1851-2003,
Wall Street Journal: 1889-1989,
Washington Post: 1877-1990,
Christian Science Monitor: 1908-1993,
Los Angeles Times: 1881-1985,
Chicago Tribune: 1849-1985,
Atlanta Constitution: 1868-1929,
Boston Globe: 1872-1923,
Hartford Courant: 1764-1984

Normally, you access these through public and academic libraries -- they don't really market to individuals, like does. However, up until recently, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) has had a group subscription that let you get all of the above except the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal, and the Hartford Courant, but it added access to the Chicago Defender 1905 - 1975 (a major African American newspaper) and the digitized version of the American Periodical Series of microfilmed magazines and periodicals. SABR was a good deal -- $60.00 -- but they just announced that ProQuest is withdrawing the package that they used, and won't supply it beyond 2006. I haven't found a good way to replace it. Check your local public and university libraries; they may have on-site (but probably not web-based) access, for free.

3. See what they have digitized online HERE :

They cost $100 per year, but you can get a discount by subscribing through SABR. They are somewhat less useful than the services above -- their search interface SUCKS. You can only search one title at a time, and only in five year increments. So if you want to search 100 years of The Sporting News, it will take 20 separate searches.

4. Early American Newspapers (title list HERE from Readex/Newsbank. I don't have much experience with this one, but it is slow, and the OCR isn't too hot.

There are also a number of limited, free newspaper searchable archives:

The Brooklyn Eagle HERE
Utah Digital Newspapers HERE
Colorado Digital Newspapers HERE
Missouri Historical Newspapers HERE
Northern New York Newspapers HERE

And some subscription backfiles:

Dallas Morning News (through
London Times (through Infotrac)
Toronto Globe and Mail (supplied by ProQuest Canada, but uses Paper of Record's search interface)

And there are a number of more limited, specialized searchable fulltext databases that don't have as much use for magical research -- university student newspapers, for example (the MIT Tech and the Harvard Crimson files are online).

Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/23/06 10:19 AM

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
1. HERE -- Lots of newspapers, all over the country, but what they have almost seems random.
I agree -- it seems very random. I've noticed that they've been adding a lot more pages to their DB recently. Also they cover portions of what's in the ProQuest DB, such as NY Times (1857-1900, 1905-1906), Washington Post (1904-1924) and the Atlanta Constitution (1868, 1870-1879, 1881-1884, 1887-1890, 1893-1916, 1919, 1921-1924). I imagine that they will continue to flesh out the coverage of these newspapers, as well as add others.

Also, you mentioned this, but I think it's worth repeating: check out your local library to see what they have available. Especially when, like me, you live near a large library like the NYPL.

Jim Maloney_dup1
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Joined: 07/23/01 12:00 PM
Location: Northern New Jersey

Postby Guest » 06/23/06 07:05 PM

Bill Mullins is exactly right!!

The treasure trove of information he has mined for me from the newspaper archives far exceeded information I had found in the past in magic journals. The information contained therein have given me many more avenues to pursue for additional information.

Bill (Mullins), your help has been invaluable. THANK YOU!!!!!

Anyone else out there with information on John H. Mighty Oaks, or items from the Oaks Magical Company, catalogs flyers, tricks, anything I would enjoy hearing from you.

Regards, Mark Damon

Postby Tom Klem » 06/26/06 07:20 AM


As you search these old newspapers or other sources try OAK as well as OAKS. If you know the address of the magic shop type it in alone.
Not all publications spell everthing correctly.
I have done quite a lot of research on the Globe Dime Museum on the Bowery. I found a wonderful article by typing in it's address alone.

Tom Klem
Tom Klem
Posts: 116
Joined: 02/24/08 01:00 PM
Location: New York City

Postby Guest » 06/26/06 04:45 PM

Thanks for the tip Tom. I do typically try Oak and Oakes, but the address idea I have not tried. Out of all the different Oaks catalogs I have, the address is only shown on two (both happen to say catalog #14 on the cover).

Oaks Magical Company
246 Main Street
Oshkosh, Wisconsin


253 Main Street
Oshkosh, Wisconsin


Here are a couple of web sites that might be of interest to you.

Regards, Mark

Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 01/12/07 01:28 PM

I just noticed recently that Google appears to be teaming up with several of the content providers listed here to provide a single-interface to search across all their services. You still need to sign up with any of the individual providers to view the full articles, but it does provide a convenient interface. If you view by timeline, it's pretty easy to drill down to a specific period and view all the articles from that time.

Jim Maloney_dup1
Posts: 1709
Joined: 07/23/01 12:00 PM
Location: Northern New Jersey

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