ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times

Article excerpt

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times. Ann Arbor, Mich.: ProQuest Information and Learning, 2002. www.il.proquest.com. Pricing based on FTE for academic libraries and population served for public libraries. Libraries either subscribe to the entire database and pay an annual fee or purchase the out-of-copyright years 1851-1925 and subscribe to the remaining time period. The database covers the years 1851-1999. Speak to a ProQuest representative for further pricing information.

Requirements: At least a 486/66 MHz PC with 8 MB RAM and an Internet connection at 28.8 Kbps or greater. The minimum browser version supported is Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x or Netscape 4.08. Internet Explorer version 5.0 or higher or Netscape 4.5 or higher are recommended for best performance. Netscape Navigator 6.0 is not supported at all. To access the database with a Macintosh, use OS 8.6 or higher with Netscape 4.x or higher or Internet Explorer 5.x or higher.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times is a remarkable product because of both the completeness of coverage and the powerful search interface. ProQuest has fully digitized the complete back file (1851-1999) of The New York Times as part of its Historical Newspapers series. The New York Times includes three million pages and more than twenty-five million articles covering 148 years of history. This is a cover-to-cover digitization of the entire newspaper, including all news articles, editorials, obituaries, marriage and birth announcements, reviews, and advertisements. The entire database is searchable using ProQuest software. In many cases this digitization of the microfilm has produced better quality copy than the microfilm original.

One can view either a specific article, or the entire page, which is a wonderful feature if one wants to understand what else was happening on that day or how important an article was based upon page placement. Viewing a specific article will always include the entire article including accompanying graphics and parts of the article that might continue on to other pages. From the "map" of the whole page, one can point and click on one element of the page and isolate just that item to view. Users can also display the complete image of any page in any issue or even browse the database and scan individual issues page by page

There are three search methods: "Basic," "Guided," and "Issue(s)." All search methods allow limiting by date--a very important feature for historical research. In January 2003 ProQuest upgraded the search screens and software, which has greatly improved this database. The search screens and help information are now unique to The New York Times and not, as previously, generic to all ProQuest databases.

Keyword searching in the "basic" search assumes phrase searching if two words are used; the system defaults to "and" with three or more words. Quotation marks should be used for phrases of more than two words. Basic search allows the user to search either through the entire text, which is the default, or limit searches to "citation and abstract." The abstract is actually the first few sentences of an article. ProQuest is assuming that with traditional newspaper writing, the first few sentences summarize the entire article and provide key information.

"Guided" search provides a template allowing the searcher to specify a search to: "All basic search fields," "abstract," "article title," "author," "article text," and "publication name." In addition, one may also limit by Article Type, such as "classified ad," "editorial cartoon," "display ad," "front page," "legal notice," "letter," "review,"

"stock quote," and more. One unfortunate Article Type choice merges obituaries, marriages, and birth notices. There is no way to limit searches to any one type. This leads to huge numbers of hits when one searches by common names.

The final unique method of searching is by issue. …