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How to: Find Newspapers

Newspaper articles are excellent sources of both current information and a perspective on what people thought of an event while it was happening. To look for newspaper articles in AU Library, first ask yourself:

What is the date of my event, or what range of dates do I want to explore?

If the date is after 1980, the main database to try is LexisNexis Academic. If you want international news from the last two months, try NewspaperDirect PressDisplay. Older international news transcribed into English is located in World News Connection.

If the date is before 1980, use a Historical News Database. Here are our available historical databases:

The Television News Archive from Vanderbilt University has archived news broadcasts that they loan for a small fee. CNN broadcasts from 1995 are available through streaming video for free.

Using LexisNexis Academic

We recommend clicking on the News tab on the top left portion of the page.

  • Enter terms in the search boxes. For each, select where you want the term to be found (for example, Headline and Lead Paragraph).
  • Select connectors between terms.
  • Select the source you want. The default is US Newspapers and Wires, but you can search major world papers, magazine stories, news broadcasts, news wires, news blogs, and foreign language news from Western European countries.
  • Set a date or range of dates if needed.
  • Click on the Search button.

Analyze your results! If you got too many to look at, try clicking on Sort and changing Publication Date to Relevance. This will make articles that have more instances of your search words appear toward the top of the list. You can also click on "Edit Search" and try one of the following:

  • Add another word to your search using the AND connector
  • Limit the date
  • Limit to one newspaper (see the list under Sources)
  • If you have asked to find your words in the full text, try finding them in just the Headline

If you got too few articles, click on "Edit Search" and try one of the following:

  • Eliminate one of your words
  • Add some synonyms using the connector OR
  • Use the wild card (!) to find all words sharing the same root (for example, murder! picks up murder, murders, murdered, murderer, and murdering)
  • If you have set date or paper limits, take them off
  • Ask to find words in the Headline and Lead Paragraph instead of the Headline

Historical News Databases

One thing to keep in mind when searching the historical databases is that they do not have subject headings. What this means for you is that modern names for things may not work very well as terms. Remember that the terms people used to describe events or groups of people in the past are usually different than we use today. You may have to dig in order to find the right words. If you are having trouble, try connecting your event to a person or a place, and look up that name.