Newspaper archives offer up a wealth of information for writers and journalists – and old newspaper articles are an essential part of your resource whether you’re looking to confirm a fact or quote a source. It can be a battle to find what you’re looking for, and that’s assuming you know just what you’re looking for in the first place.
Here are some newspaper archives* from South Africa and around the world to help you get to the core of the story quicker.
* Author’s Note: Resources featured function as search engines, lists or catalogues for newspaper archives, and are not publication-focused; thus, there are many publication focused archives (i.e. The NY Times) left out. These are easy enough to access through the publication’s website, or by searching “publication + archive” through your nearest search engine.
- Use the advanced search function to help you refine the terms of your search – including your chosen publication or the date the article might have appeared in, as well as keywords for a partial or exact match.
- Search through several sites at once; what doesn’t appear on one site’s search results might be hidden in another.
- Be thorough. What you’re looking for isn’t always on the first three pages – if you’re looking for something specific or obscure and you can’t find it, start digging.
- Can’t find what you’re looking for in the archives? It happens. Get in touch with the publication’s editor or publisher and find out who you should speak to for access to the archives: They can usually help.
- Mind copyrights. When quoting from another news story, always attribute the author, date and publication in your sources list – and that means always.
- Some sites on this list require paid membership, some don’t. In most cases, membership is worth paying for and will save you a considerable amount of money and time in phone calls.
Newspapers.com is a worldwide (paid) archive of some of the world’s biggest publications and newspapers. Paid membership here is definitely worth it, especially if you make regular use of the service.
Still looking for the right resource? Newspaper Archive is one of the biggest archiving resources out there, and you’ll almost certainly found it on Newspaper Archive if you haven’t found it anywhere else.
If you’re looking for something in British news instead, here’s a huge catalogue of British and UK newspapers.
The US Library of Congress has many resources for researchers, writers and journalists. Here’s the link to their newspaper archives and other news resources for digging into the past.
Elephind is your newspaper archive search engine with a worldwide listing of just under 3, 700 different newspapers.
The world’s most powerful search engine has its own news website trawler, and it’s a useful tool when you’re looking for breaking news or digging for something in the archive. Remember the advanced search function for some expert tricks!
South African Archives
Seeking South African news and newspapers? Here’s a list of specifically South African newspaper and magazine archives.
The National Archives of South Africa are home to some great resources and includes far more than just a list of archived newspapers: You can also find plenty of public records here just with a simple e-mail.
The National Library of South Africa has a massive collection of newspapers on microfilm dating back decades. Visit the website to see a list of newspapers on microfilm, or take a look at their digitised archives.
Media24 is home to some of South Africa’s largest media publications. Here are all their newspapers (and some archives) in one place. Get in touch with the editorial team if you’re looking for something specific.
Here’s the online archive for News24 Articles if you’re looking for anything that has been posted online.
The Historical Papers Collection housed at Wits University is a great resource for getting to the bottom of things when you’re doing historical research.
PressReader collects news from international publications, and they have a huge catalogue of South African newspaper archives online, too: Start here if you’re looking for a specific article or keyword and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll find it.
by Alex J. Coyne
About the Author: Alex J. Coyne is a freelance journalist, author and language practitioner. He has written for a diverse range of international publications, blogs and clients including People Magazine, Funds for Writers, The Dollar Stretcher, The Investor, CollegeHumor and Great Bridge Links, among others. Find more information about his writing and courses aimed at journalists at Alex J. Coyne.
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