Fun With the New York Times Archives

I mentioned earlier this week that the New York Times was going to open part of its archives. Since then I’ve been having fun playing through the older part of the archives. Having fun however does involve a little digging through the search options.

The New York Times only gives you the option to search all archives or all archives since the beginning, and not the public domain archives from 1851-1922. this link will take you to a search for just those years (and a keyword search for cow. I’m figuring you’ll want to change that.)

The really fun stuff starts, though, when you click the Advanced link that’s next to the search button. That’ll let you search by author or headline. Try searching for folks like Alcott. You’ll get a letter Louisa May Alcott wrote to the NYT in 1883 emphasizing her support for women’s suffrage. Try Mark Twain. You’ll get a variety of articles and letters to the editor including one where he complains about a baby which keeps him awake constantly and laments installing a burglar alarm because the baby works just as well. Try Charles Dickens. Try Wodehouse and you will get one letter from PG which starts, “Mr. Williams is all wrong. (I’m not arguing, I’m just telling him.)”

When you get tired of searching for famous authors and other folks who might have contributed to the Times, try searching for unlikely words in headlines. Like computers. That one’s fun. Digital, alas, brings only articles about pianists, but searching the full text of the archive for mechanical turk brings articles about the chess playing hoax.

The articles in this archive are only available as PDF documents, and some of them are easier to read than others. But I found only one I couldn’t get through at all; great stuff here.

Categories: News