Saturday, September 15, 2018

Want to Make Life For Historians (Like Me) Easier?

And learn way more about early California than you need to know?  Visit the California Digital News Archive.  Create an account, search for some phrase or word that interests you and when you that the OCR has garbled the text use the Correct This Text button to fix it.  I have done a lot of this when researching gun related California history; it speeds up finding stuff for future historians and you are likely to find visiting California's 19th and 20th centuries interesting, or at least educational.


  1. Is using only online available newspaper archives considered appropriately in-depth scholarship? I am limited to such in researching my own project and don't want to be making improper conclusions because I may have missed something. Of course, I'm looking generally at the nation, rather than at any one specific paper/instance that a physical archive might require.

  2. If you have images of the newspapers to compare the text, why would it be any different from looking at microfilm of the newspapers? You might have a problem if you were drawing conclusions about how common or rare something was based on searches through text produced by not spectacularly accurate OCR.

  3. Yeah, actually reading the article is important. I hate it when I seem to get a good lead from the OCR but then I can't find a single thing to which it seems to be referring to on the page.

    But your suggest is a good one in that if I or anyone else are taking down quotes, there is no harm in pasting the relevant quote in the OCR results since we're typing it out anyway. At least the "good parts" will be easy to find by others in the future if the whole thing is not transcribed.