Get Ready to Get Lost in Time: Brooklyn Library Digitizes Thousands of Historic Newspaper Articles

Photo by Jay Sharp via Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library

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    In a move sure to get history-loving hearts racing, Brooklyn Collection at Brooklyn Public Library is making more than 40 borough-specific newspapers available for online hunting.

    Their digital archive of Brooklyn Daily Eagle articles is already an essential tool in borough research and the latest project adds thousands more newspaper pages for history buffs to hunt through.

    “We realized very early on the wealth of information available in historical newspapers, especially the titles that covered Brooklyn when it was an independent city,” Natiba Guy-Clement, Manager of Special Collections at Brooklyn Public Library, told Brownstoner. “Being able to provide this type of information to our researchers is very important to us.”

    The Brooklyn Collection is still in the process of uploading all the new publications, with 21 added so far. When the upload is complete there will be a grand total of 41 newspapers in the collection.

    brooklyn collection

    Image via Newspaper.com

    Ranging from 1835 to 1999, the papers include such titles as Bay Ridge Home Reporter, Brooklyn Sunday Sun, Canarsie Courier, Flatbush Times, Greenpoint Home News and Kings County Rural Gazette.

    Like the Brooklyn Daily Eagle project, the latest digital additions are hosted via Newspapers.com. While the Eagle collection is now accessible from anywhere, for now you will need to head to a branch library to peruse the newest uploads — they won’t be accessible from home, work or school for three more years.

    In the meantime, researchers can either use a library computer or connect their laptops to the library’s wireless service and start hunting. We gave it a test spin at the Brooklyn Heights branch, where it was easy to log on and start a search. The latest uploads are particularly good for neighborhood specific reporting and for articles from more recent decades. We turned up ads for masons and house painters in the 1870s and ads from the 1960s for a former bowling alley on Foster Avenue Brownstoner wrote about earlier this year.

    brooklyn newspapers

    A 1963 ad for a bowling alley on Foster Avenue in Canarsie. Image from Canarsie Courier via Brooklyn Collection/Newspapers.com

    The Brooklyn Collection started in 1997 as part of the History Division, with a small book collection focused on the borough. It now holds more than 5,000 books and an archive that includes 200,000 photographs, manuscripts, newspapers, sheet music and more.

    Expanding the digitized newspapers available is an important part of increasing accessibility to Brooklyn history. The collection has been upping its digital presence over the last year or so with a revamped main online portal with direct access to maps, postcards, oral histories and other digitized treasures.

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