Welcome to Getting Access, a series devoted to helping you obtain the digital records you need. Companies like Newsbank/Readex are on a mission to digitize early American records. Their Early American Newspapers and Early American Imprints databases offer a comprehensive collection of digitized early American tracts and newspapers.
It used to be that to access these databases you had be affiliated with (or live near) one of the wealthy research institutions that can afford to pay their enormous subscription fees. However, Newsbank offers an affordable backdoor to a lot of the content stored in its expensive Readex-branded databases.
In October 2006, Newsbank launched GenealogyBank, a direct-to-consumer resource that "provide[s] researchers with unprecedented Web-based access to millions of the United States' core genealogical records from the 17th to the 21st centuries."
Geared for genealogical queries and non-professional researchers, GenealogyBank does not offer the advanced search options of its Readex counterparts, Early American Newspapers or America's Historical Newspapers.
The search interface gives preference to names of people rather than dates. Users cannot access the issue lists for a given newspaper title. To pull up a page view of an entire issue, users must first click on an article and then click on the "Page " link located on the left-hand side above the article title. Users cannot navigate from full-page view to full-page view.
Still, with a little persistence users should be able to find the information they need from the comfort of their homes.
The Bottom Line
GenealogyBank may be a tad cumbersome to use, but at $69.95/year it offers underprivileged historians affordable access to newspapers and imprints that they could only access in physical archives or by visiting a library that has a subscription to the Readex-branded databases.
What Do You Think?
Have you found any helpful ways for accessing early American newspapers online? If so please leave a comment or send me a tweet.