This page contains information about historical newspapers in general and specific collections focus on papers outside of Missouri. Some listed collections may contain historical Missouri newspapers as part of a larger scope. For Missouri-specific historical newspapers, please see the 'Missouri Newspapers' tab.
This page also includes a glossary of historical newspaper terms. For general newspaper terms, please see the 'Home' tab.
Some tips for starting historical newspaper research:
This informative video from the University of Alabama Libraries will help you get started with using historical newspaper databases.
Blanket Sheet: Nickname for very large broadsheet newspapers of the 1830s. They were about twice the size of modern newspapers.
Broadsheet: A large format newspaper, but not as large as a blanket sheet. Newspaper page size increased in the 1800s, due to improvements in printing technology. In the 1900s, the broadsheet format was often compared with the tabloid. The earliest newspapers were large, unfolded broadsheets printed on a single side. Sometimes called broadsides.
Types of historical newspapers:
Extra: An edition of a newspaper--usually a city newspaper--that was published in addition to the regular editions and sold on the street when especially important news broke, such as a fire, the death of an important person, or the arrival of war news.
Mercantile Papers: Newspapers written primarily for city businessmen that worked in finance and trade. They had information about the prices of goods and services, ship arrivals and departures, and political and foreign news. An example is the New York Journal of Commerce. Also called commercial papers.
Penny Papers: Penny papers sold for one-cent per issue and targeted the general public (the working- and middle-classes) through individual street sales. They tended to emphasize more topical news, scandal, and police reporting. Some of the most important penny papers were the New York Sun, the New York Herald, the New York Tribune, the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and the Baltimore Sun.
Political Papers: Newspapers that focused primarily on politics and government.
Volume: Newspaper issues used to be organized into volumes. Volume and issue numbers are usually printed on the nameplate, and less commonly on the masthead. A volume often covers a one-year period, but this one-year period does not necessarily correspond to a calendar year. For example, a paper that:
would likely have 4 volumes and 2 issues. The volume and issue numbering can help a researcher understand whether a newspaper run is complete. Note: Historically, it was not uncommon, especially in remote areas, for newspapers to publish less regularly than advertised, so the volume and issue numbering can help identify gaps (i.e., if an issue was simply delayed or if it is not in the collection a researcher is looking through).
Terms and definitions sourced from the AP Stylebook, the University of Illinois- Urbana guide 'Newspapers, 1800-1860', Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, 'Newspaper Sections and Terms' by Grace Fleming of ThoughtCo, and the Library of Congress page 'How to Find a Newspaper'
These links will take you to sites that require you to use your MU credentials (i.e. what you use to log into your Mizzou email).
ProQuest Historical News Databases
Always be sure to check the cost of materials you engage with! As of May, 2022 these sites are free OR partially free and clearly mark materials that require payment.
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