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New York Times (Historical) User Guide


This ProQuest database provides cover-to-cover access to the New York Times from its inception in 1851 up through four years ago. You can restrict your search to specific years or certain parts of the newspaper, and retrieve PDF images of articles as they appeared in the published edition. This is a great resource for reading first-hand accounts of historical events, gaining cultural context for literary works, and learning how people and events were portrayed in the media.

Screenshot of New York Times (Historical) Database


Keyword Searching

In the Advanced Search module, enter keywords representing your topic in the text boxes at top. By default, each search line is connected with the Boolean "AND" operator. This enables you to input a different concept or aspect of your topic on each line, while ensuring that your search results will address all the concepts. You can use the Boolean "OR" within a text box to link together synonyms and related terms. The asterisk (*) is a wildcard that allows retrieval of variant forms of a word. Use quotation marks around groups of words to search them as a phrase.

By default, any articles that include all your search terms in their full text will appear in your search results. If the number of results is excessive, you may wish to restrict your search to the Citation and Abstract or Document Title (i.e., headline) fields, which can be accomplished by toggling the drop-down box next to the keyword(s) in question. Depending on your selection, only articles containing the keyword(s) in their abstracts or headlines will be returned.

It is highly recommended that you use the Date Range limiter to narrow your results to a specified time period. This may reflect either the date(s) of a historical event or a time period that you wish to examine. If looking for coverage of an event, be sure to search the newspaper for up to a week or month after the date of its occurrence, to capture all coverage of its aftermath. Use the From option to enter starting and ending dates for your time period.

You may also wish to click on the More Search Options link at bottom to expose additional options for refining your search. The most useful option is the ability to narrow your search to specific document types, which represent sections of the newspaper. This enables you to search only straight news stories ("Articles"), opinion pieces ("Editorial Articles", "Letters to Editor"), or other sections such as advertisements or the front page. Choose the desired section from the drop-down box next to Document Type.

Viewing Results

Results are listed in chronological order from oldest to newest. You can use the Sort results by drop-down box to switch to a relevance ranking of results, which brings the most useful articles to the top. To view an article, simply click on its title. For each result, you can also click on the Abstract link to read a summary of the article, or click on the Page Map link to see where the article appeared on the printed page of the original issue. To export citations of multiple articles into a reference management program like EndNote, tick the checkboxes next to the desired articles and click the Export link.

The article view (shown below) is an enhanced ProQuest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which displays a PDF of the article as it appeared in the print edition. Links at the upper right enable you to switch to either the Abstract or Page Map.

Screenshot of New York Times (Historical) Database


Printing and Downloading Articles

Do NOT use the Print menu in your Internet browser to print the article, or the Printer icon in the Adobe Reader window, as this will often compress the article onto a single, unreadable page. Instead, click on the Print link at the upper left of the Article view. Lengthy or wide articles will be automatically subdivided into multiple printed pages for ease of reading. You can download the PDF file to your computer using the Adobe Save a Copy button, or email it to yourself using the ProQuest Email link. ProQuest also provides a Cite This tool that can generate a ready-made citation of the article in MLA, APA, and other common citation styles.

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