Assignment –Newspapers

Due Date

  • Sunday, October 2, 2016 by 5pm (via course website) [REVISED DATE]


Students in History 204 should create a short entry in their research journal (about 600-800 words, or 3-4 pages) that describes how they researched digitized or microfilmed newspapers for selected members of their assigned class.


  • Entries will NOT be graded on prose or design elements (though both will factor into whether or not the journal entry will ultimately get published).  Instead, the focal point of grading will be on research effort and historical analysis.  For this newspaper entry, it is especially important that students show care in explaining how they chose particular databases, used search terms, and assessed the relative merits of various types of newspaper publications and articles.


  • USING NEWSPAPERS.  Newspapers are a particular genre that have a complex variety of article types and formats.  Nineteenth-century newspapers are also complicated by the fact that they often had overt partisan affiliations.  Students should provide evidence of their efforts to master all of this complexity by providing and carefully describing at least three (3) examples of relevant newspaper articles (as image or PDF files) in their journal entry.
  • ADDITIONAL WORK.  If time allows, students should also make a determined effort to view microfilmed copies of local Carlisle newspapers and to include relevant articles from those sources as image or PDF files in their journal entries.  Local Carlisle newspapers from the mid-nineteenth century have not yet been digitized, but they are available in microfilm editions at College Library and at the Cumberland County Historical Society.

Database Suggestions

  • The Library Database Finder contains several important subscription-based historical newspaper collections.  Here are some of the most relevant for your project:
    • 19th Century U.S. Newspapers
    • Accessible Archives
    • Civil War Era
    • Historical Newspapers
  • There are also a number of valuable collections available freely online, including some especially well-designed for your project:
  • Each of these platforms (both paid and free) has its own interface, so there’s a small learning curve to overcome with each one, but the results can be astounding once you master some of the basics.  You can search individual names (seeking out both contemporary articles from life and recollected pieces, such as obituaries or even later reminiscences of famous subjects), or combine names & keywords to find particular stories of value about events or topics related to your assigned class.


  • Prose is not graded here, but writing with clarity and vigor should always be your objective.  Poorly written posts will not hurt your grade at this stage, but they will prevent you from getting your work published.  Quick note –these entries may contain first person pronouns, but try to keep the focus on “I” to a minimum nonetheless.
  • Design is not graded here either, but use this initial entry as a way to test out your WordPress skills.  Include images (with proper captions and credits) that have text neatly wrapped around, and provide occasional hypertext links to freely accessible outside sources.  Footnotes are not required in research journal entries, but you want to experiment with providing ways for readers to visualize and access your sources.