I want to tell you about an interesting resource. Yesterday I stumbled upon the Abraham Lincoln Newspaper Archive.
The project has compiled thousands of articles on the sixteenth president from newspapers all across the country. The database is free and fully searchable. You can even view the actual newspaper pages! You can also order full-sized reproduction prints for a fee.
I did a few searches within the archive and thought I’d pass along some initial impressions. The real strength of the collection seems to be in articles dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries from small newspapers. Using this archive, a researcher could examine the way Americans remembered Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, or even the suspension of the right of habeas corpus.
The archive also contains a rich collection of material from 1860 to 1865. For instance, a search of “Gettysburg” in newspapers dating from 1863 to 1865 yields an astonishing 73 different articles! Researchers can read what citizens in Janesville (Wisconsin), Raleigh (North Carolina), and Dubuque (Iowa) thought of Gettysburg. Is it really possible to write a dissertation without using microfilm? Absolutely!
However, researchers interested in Lincoln’s pre-presidential career may be disappointed. For example, I did not find any articles from the two Springfield newspapers, the Sangamo Journal or the Illinois Register. The pickings from 1832 to 1848 are virtually nonexistent. The period between 1850 and 1859 contains a few more hits, but again, without the two Springfield papers, microfilm is still an indispensable resource. But there is an upside. I did find a few articles dating from the late 19th century that contained "reminiscences" from people who knew Lincoln during the Springfield years. There are useful articles buried within the database, but finding them may some patience, as well as a little bit of luck with keywords during the search.
Give the Abraham Lincoln Newspaper Archive a whirl. I certainly had a good time going through it. In the past I would have spent days or even weeks tracking down microfilm. It would have taken me a dozen hours to search through it all. Thanks to the ALNA, I was able to find a handful of articles for my dissertation in about twenty minutes!
I have added a link to this resource on the LINKS page.
PS: Tomorrow is my 30th birthday so I will be taking the day off!