Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

What happened on my birthday?

Posted on: December 28, 2011

Help! I am a teacher and would like my students to look in newspapers for what  happened on their birthday. Does anyone know where we can go so they can actually see the newspaper, like microfiche?

Contemporary newspaper archives and digitized copies of newspapers published before the Internet make the popular “Today in History” or “What Happened on my Birthday?” activities fun and easy.

The Historic American Newspaper Collection from the Library of Congress is one of my favorites. The landing page has 100 Years Ago Today links with zoomable images of front pages.  There are millions of pages of newspapers from 1836-1922 representing cities and rural areas in 25 states and the District of Columbia. A topic list includes topics widely covered in the press at the time the paper was published. Use advanced search to put in a specific month, day or year and options for searching selected newspapers by state, selected ethnicities and languages.  There is also a directory of newspapers from 1690 – present. These newspapers are fun, exciting and educational.  

It’s interesting to see daily displays of newspapers from throughout the World on the sidewalk outside the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Digital visitors can view images from almost 900 newspapers online. Daily front pages from previous dates are not available, but there is a newspaper archive where newspaper front pages are grouped by 21st century events of historical significance.

Digital projects by museums, universities, and state organization provide easy access to local and regional newspapers. I’ve had fun searching The Winona Newspaper Project  for articles about family members.   I even found my own birth announcement!

Digital Newspapers




How can I  use primary resources like these in the media center and classroom?

Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources 
See what former students have to say.


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