Republican archives now online

There is an exciting new development for people interested in researching Springfield and Springfield-area history: The Republican has digitized many of its back issues and is offering them online on a subscription basis.

Buried on the Masslive site is a link to this service:

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives/?p_product=HA-SUNB&p_theme=...

Issues from 1877 to 1947 are currently indexed (unfortunately with a gap from 1911 to 1922), and they are working on 1947 to the present.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the service is only mediocre.

I have used a number of online newspaper services with various interfaces. The best, I have found, is NewspaperArchive.com. That service is affordable ($6.99 per month when paid yearly), fast, and has an interface that allows many different ways to search and navigate through the content. I highly recommend that service.

In contrast, the Republican archives are somewhat expensive at $9.95 per day or $19.95 per month. I can deal with the price since I have significant interest in their archives, but the bigger problem is that their monthly service comes with a 50 article limit per daily subscription, and an incredibly low 200 article limit per monthly subscription! Anyone who has searched online archives knows that there is a lot of hunting that takes place before you find what you want. 200 articles per month is not much at all -- I expect to burn through the 200 articles in 2-3 days, then I'll have to sit things out for 27 more days.

A note on the service says "The Springfield Republican Historical Archive contains no photos, charts, or graphics." -- but that does not seem to be the case, since I managed to find some photos. That was a welcome relief. That must be due to potential intellectual property issues surrounding copyrights of photographs -- but other archive services show photographs, so it would seem to be a solvable problem.

So I decided to pay my $20 and try the service out. Here are my impressions.

The indexing of the articles seems decent, but far from complete. I searched for some ancestors, and even though I have some newspaper clippings with their names in them, not all came up in the search results. That could be due to the quality of the images, which were scanned from microfilm, not from the original newspapers. A lot of the text was not that readable since it depends on how well the newspapers were filmed, decades ago. However, even a spotty index opens many doors for research, it allowed me to find some long-lost family history very easily. I'm now salivating for more.

I found the results interface significantly lacking. The content is returned in a small frame on the browser, usually zoomed in a bit too tightly.

The image is a PDF image, which is standard, but there is no index overlaying the image. What that means is that if you get a "hit" on a search term for a page, there's no way to find it on the page by searching the PDF. You have to either rely on the interface positioning you in the right section, or you have to read the whole page. That is amazingly frustrating.

But beyond that, the overall frame is just too small to view the content, and the interface has a weird way of sometimes showing the whole page, but sometimes showing just a few columns from the page. There is a way to guarantee seeing the whole page -- clicking the page number -- but that is not efficient, and probably counts as another article viewing.

The load time for each article takes way too long -- perhaps 5-10 seconds per page, sometimes longer. The standard PDF zooming (using the Control key and the wheel on the mouse) does not work on the framed content -- so if you want to zoom out, it's an additional page load, which takes another 5-10 seconds. It is possible to break the PDF image out of the viewer (which also allows you to save the PDF image to your hard drive), but to do that you need to click an additional button which takes another 5-10 seconds.

All said, it's just not that good of an interface. If the search results were links to the PDF image of the page, and if the image was indexed with the search terms, that would be much more easy to work with. That is how Newspaperarchive.com and the Toronto Star archives work.

Although it is possible to navigate from page to page on the interface, there is no way to navigate from day to day. I find such a function very important when researching a specific topic -- either a news story, or just to browse.

All in all, I'm very happy that the Republican is now online -- I have waited years for this to happen. However, I hope that they continue to improve their service, eliminating the low page limits and making it easier to both search and navigate the results. I know that this service will allow me to do some good research on Springfield's history without having to truck down to the limited-hours library.

Excellent

Thanks for passing this along, Ralph. Hopefully as time goes on the interface issues you describe will be resolved. I'm going to try it out (But I'm going to wait until I have some time to spend, because I have a feeling I'm going to get lost in there...).

You may find this

You may find this interesting:

http://www.genealogybank.com/

It is the same company behind the archive. It is geared towards genealogical research, but can be easily manipulated. There is a trial offer ($9.95 for 10 days). Otherwise, it is $19.95 a month or $89.95 per year. There is no limits on downloads and you have access to additional archives. I have been using it for a few weeks now and am pleased with what I have found.

Whats the best way to get a

Whats the best way to get a hold of Republican back issues prior to 1870??

The Springfield Daily News

I am confused as to whether the Daily News was part of (or became part of) the Republican Co. Regardless, does anyone know how to access Daily News archives?

Daily News

A sister website of Genealogybank is www.NewsInHistory.com. It has a fantastic archives of Springfield newspapers including the Daily News. It does not have a complete collection of the Daily News but there is plenty of different newspaper coverage for about 200 years. They go back to the late 18th century. There are 193 different titles from Massachusetts and at least five or six from Springfield. Very reasonable rates also!

NewsInHistory

Hi Barbara --

NewsInHistory.com is just another front for the Newsbank newspapers -- it is exactly the same as Genealogybank. Don't bother subscribing to both - I see no differences.

NewsInHistory

Hi Ralph,
Newsbank is, indeed, the parent company of both. I did some writing for Newsbank (the people I dealt with are very nice, by the way) but their archives access is only open to institutional libraries. The two other two websites cater to individuals and offer access to the same collections at an affordable price. It has worked well for me although I agree that there isn't any point to subscribing to both.

My personal thanks to you for providing the Springfield-History website as a venue for us historian types. It really is a wonderful resource.

Thanks for the info, Barbara

NewInHistory.com is a wonderful source.

Genealogy

Hi: I am doing genealogy research on the Davis Family. On computer I found an article dated 27 March 1867
regarding the Descendants of John Davis going to a meeting on 17 April 1867 in a Hotel in West Staflord, Connecticut. Would I be able to come and view newspapers in that time period? Thanks for your help.
Nat Emens. I live in Middleboro and my daughter lives in Webster, so I could visit her at same time.

Davis Descendants meeting

You might want to contact the Stafford library to see what newspaper archives they have. If you can find a large library out your way, it may offer public access to the on-line Newsbank archives or other on-line newspaper archives. The Davis reunion may have been reported in a Hartford or Springfield newspaper.

How to find photos?

My great-grandfather, Frank Ryder, owned a filling station in Springfield in the 30s and 40s. He died in 1948 and it was sold. We have no idea what it was called, where it was, or if the building still exists (probably not.) We would love to find photos of it and any other information about it, and him, that we can. We know nothing about searching for businesses in history. Also, none of us live in or near Mass anymore. What online resources would be our best options, and how should we begin? Thanks!

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