Guide to the Research Collections



The General Research and Humanities Division maintains a Newspaper File with 4,000 cards for domestic newspapers and 2,000 cards for foreign newspapers, which duplicates the catalog of the library's Newspaper Collection. It is an alphabetical record of newspaper holdings in the library's collections arranged by country, state, and city for the United States; and by country and city abroad. Holdings of United States newspapers published before 1800 are itemized in the Newspapers Check List in the Rare Book Division.

The Research Libraries have long maintained a policy of not issuing current newspapers to the public; files are usually made available only after they have been processed, either in bound volumes or on microfilm. There are certain exceptions to this rule, most notably the New York Times, current issues of which are available in the General Research and Humanities Division in the Central Building; the Wall Street Journal, available in the Economic and Public Affairs Division; and current newspapers in the Balto-Slavic and Oriental languages, available in the Slavonic and Oriental Divisions.

It may be well to define the terms "current" and "newspaper" as employed by the library. A newspaper is considered current if the latest issues are made available to the public in their original form as soon as they are received. Newspapers have been defined as "publication[s] appearing daily, weekly, or at other intervals, in sheet form, following conventional newspaper format (masthead,

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columnar arrangement, headlines), the chief function of which is to report, illustrate, and comment upon current events of either general or special interest."1 (Trade or professional papers such as Women's Wear Daily are discussed in chapter 56 of this Guide; government gazettes, treated as public documents, are discussed in chapter 34.)


For preservation, most of the newspaper files in the library are filmed or will be filmed in the future. After filming of the original, files may or may not be retained. In the case of older files on rag paper, for example, files are retained if space permits; but modern titles on newsprint, which deteriorates rapidly, are rarely retained. Newspaper and periodical titles which the library has microfilmed and makes available in positive copies are listed in Publications in Print and Titles Available on Microfilm issued annually by the library. A particularly important group of Judaica and Hebraica is included.


The Research Libraries acquire or, through cooperative library enterprises, provide access to United States newspapers in all languages from the standard metropolitan areas (as defined by the United States Census Bureau) on a representative basis, and on a selective basis other newspapers which may be important for cultural, economic, political, or sociological reasons. Since this policy, instituted in 1969, represents a change from previous coverage, emphasis is placed on participation in cooperative library newspaper programs (where files are represented in microform) and on purchase of microform newspaper files for titles of particular importance. The existing files of newspapers are being gradually augmented. Long-range plans call for the completion of existing broken files and the microforming of original files as a means of preserving the collection.

The library acquires or provides access to newspapers from other countries on a selective basis; when possible this includes at least one newspaper from every country in the world. Microfilms of lacking titles are borrowed from the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago or elsewhere.

The library maintains for its own collections comprehensive files of New York City newspapers in all languages. If films of these titles are not available through commercial or other sources, the library acquires original issues and undertakes preservation of these titles by microform. The library has always had a comprehensive collection of New York City newspapers, but while recognizing its responsibility to acquire the local and neighborhood newspapers of the city, it had not been able to do so with any great degree of success until 1969. In that year, after the formulation of the new acquisition policy, various library divisions began to make a particular effort to obtain this material, particularly those titles considered to be of cultural, economic, political, or sociological value. These local and neighborhood newspapers are generally the collecting responsibility of the Local History and Genealogy Division, and include complete files on film of two outstanding titles, the Villager and the Village Voice. Other titles will be added in accordance with the new policy. The Branch Libraries have in various of their units current files of local and neighborhood newspapers which are usually discarded after a short period. The Schomburg Center of the Research Libraries retains a complete file of the Amsterdam News (1922-23, 1925- ). Under the new acquisition policy, underground newspapers are also to be acquired selectively by the Periodicals Section of the Research Libraries. The Newspaper Collection will, in addition, acquire commercially produced collections of underground newspapers on microfilm.


Newspaper Collection

The Newspaper Collection of the Research Libraries, located in the library's Annex at 521 West 43rd Street, contains files of more than 4,000 newspapers published in most areas of the world since 1800. Papers published before 1800 are usually to be found in the Rare Book Division, although some eighteenth-century British files are in the Newspaper Collection. Newspapers in the Balto-Slavic and Oriental languages, and in Hebrew and Yiddish, are generally found in the Slavonic, Oriental, and Jewish Divisions. Most files of foreign newspapers begin in 1900 or later, although there are some earlier files. The holdings of the Newspaper Collection include more than 42,000 reels of microfilm and approximately 22,000 bound volumes. Most of these bound volumes contain older files of newspapers. More than 150 current titles are received from all over the world. A small collection of reference books is maintained, including the standard indexes to the New York Times, London Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal, along with other materials on journalism and newspaper history.

There are virtually complete files of most general newspapers (as distinguished from those of strictly local or neighborhood distribution) published in New York City from 1801 to the present, in English and other languages. Notable files include the New York Post (1801- ), New York Journal of Commerce and Commercial (1828- ), New York Herald (1835-1924), Brooklyn Eagle (1841-1955), New York Times (1851- ), World (1860-1931), and the New York Sun (1833-43, 1861-1950). Foreign language papers published in New York City include the Atlantis and National Herald (Greek), El diario-La Prensa (Spanish), Nordisk Tidende (Norwegian), and others in Chinese, Japanese, Finnish, Swedish, Italian, and German.

Some of the significant titles received from other cities of the United States are the Atlanta Constitution (1945- ), Boston Herald and Boston Herald Traveller (1952- ), Chicago Tribune (1947- ), Honolulu Star-Bulletin (1959- ), New Orleans Times-Picayune (1958- ), and Philadelphia Inquirer (1860-65, incomplete; 1942- ). The collection of California newspapers covers the period from 1850 to the present.

British newspapers include a good file of the London Chronicle (1757-98), the London Times (1785- ), the Manchester Guardian (1929- ), and others. A special collection of interest includes issues which appeared during the general strike of 1926.

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Continental European newspapers are less numerous, and the files less complete. There are generally representative files beginning about 1900 from most nations. Many others were added at the beginning of World War I, such as the Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt (1900-43). The incomplete file of the Paris Journal des débats covers the periods 1814-26, 1841-68, 1879-87, and 1892-1942. Files of other important titles are substantial although frequently incomplete. There is an interesting group of newspapers from all belligerent countries during the period of World War I. Among titles now received are Figaro (1880- , incomplete) from Paris, and the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung (1900-09; 1914- ). The famous La Prensa of Argentina is available in a complete run beginning in 1869, and there are copies of Mexico's El Universal (1933- ), and the Diario de Centro America (1949- ) from Guatemala.

Catalog and Special Indexes and Files

The catalog of the Newspaper Collection follows a regional arrangement in three main sections: the United States by state; New York City; and foreign countries. There are few subject entries in the catalog, which is primarily an alphabetical listing by title. Cards for materials in various divisions of the Research Libraries are also filed, however, including those from the Rare Book, Economic and Public Affairs, and Slavonic Divisions; and for items in the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago.

Among the special indexes and files in the Newspaper Collection are the following:

Columnists File.

An index arranged alphabetically by name of columnists, giving such information as the type or title of newspaper column written, names of newspapers in which it appeared, etc. (inactive, 1 card drawer).

Facts Index.

A card index arranged by subject and containing information accumulated in answering reference questions (semi-active, 22 card drawers). For example, under the heading "Hiss-Chambers Case" index cards provide dates and locations for news stories.

Other-than-Newspapers File.

An alphabetical index of subject cards pertaining to literature in the newspaper field (active, 1 card drawer). The titles may be found in either the Newspaper Collection or the general collections.

Vertical Files.

File folders contain miscellaneous information that may be needed either by the staff or the public (active, 3 file trays). There are folders under such headings as "Strikes--N. Y. City," "Newspapers on microfilm," "Library of Congress current list," and "Steiger Collection of German-American newspapers."

Rare Book Division

American newspapers published before 1800, and other newspaper rarities, are kept in the Rare Book Division. The division maintains an active Newspapers Check List in two loose-leaf notebooks arranged by city and town.

Early British newspapers in the division include files of the St. James's Chronicle (1768-78), Lloyd's Evening post and British Chronicle (1758-81, incomplete), and the London Packet (1772-78), of added interest because they were published during the colonial and Revolutionary periods of American history. Many important examples of early seventeenth-century English newspapers or "newsbooks" came to the division in the Lonsdale collection, purchased in 1947.2

Other holdings include a group of facsimiles or later souvenir issues of rare newspapers such as the Ulster Country Gazette, of which the division has over thirty editions, although lacking the rare original issue of January 4, 1800.3 There are also the productions of amateur and toy presses, Lilliputian newspapers, and other materials.

This is one of the most important collections in the library. Early files and rare issues are numerous, among them Bradford's New-York Gazette, Zenger's Weekly Journal (the best file known), Parker's Post-Boy, and excellent files of Holt's Journal, Gaine's Mercury, and Farley's American Chronicle. Going beyond New York, the representation of Philadelphia newspapers includes extensive files of Franklin's Gazette and Bradford's Journal. The library's holdings of newspapers published before 1821 are recorded in Brigham's History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (1947), although some files and issues have been added since its appearance. The division's holdings have been extended by photostat or microfilm files to include North Carolina newspapers before 1800, the Virginia Gazette, and the Kentucky Gazette.

Later American materials held in the division because of their value include the famous issue of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen of July 2, 1864, set by the staff of the newspaper but printed by Union soldiers after the fall of the city. Files of American Indian newspapers include a notable group of Cherokee newspapers for the period from 1828 to 1853.

Microform Reading Room

In the Microform Reading Room of the Central Building are kept microfilm copies of the New York Times (1851- ), the New York Post (1967- ), the New York Herald Tribune (1924-66), and the World Journal Tribune (1966-67). The New York Times Index from 1851 until recent years is also kept here; indexes for the last few years are held in Room 315.

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Economic and Public Affairs Division

Issues covering the latest six months or a year of a small number of newspapers on banking and investment are kept in the Economic and Public Affairs Division for consultation in conjunction with periodicals and other publications on these subjects. Older issues are microfilmed or bound and permanently located in the Microform Reading Room or the Newspaper Collection. Included in this group are such titles as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Post (Toronto), Financial Times (London), and Financial Express (Bombay).

Local History and Genealogy Division

A perhaps unique collection of anniversary and special issues of local United States and Canadian newspapers is available. The division is expanding its coverage of local and neighborhood New York City newspapers. Complete files of the Villager and the Village Voice are on microfilm in the Microform Reading Room (current issues are available through the Periodicals Section).

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The Schomburg Center has a good collection of African newspapers on microfilm. The Afro-American newspaper collection includes long, complete runs of newspapers dating from 1827 through World War I, such as the California Eagle, Cleveland Gazette, and Savannah Tribune. Current issues of black newspapers giving national coverage are microfilmed at the end of each year.

Slavonic Division

This division houses some 120 newspaper titles, mostly in Balto-Slavic languages. Approximately 40 of these come from the USSR, including Pravda (1917- ); and Izvestiya (1917- ); 4 are from Poland, including Trybuna Ludu (1948- ); and 1 is from Czechoslovakia, Rudé Právo (1948- , incomplete). There are papers from thirteen other countries, with the largest single unit being 52 titles from the United States and Canada. Current issues are available to the public as received; back files are available on microfilm.

Oriental Division

The division has many newspapers on microfilm from the United Arab Republic. Iran, India, Japan, and Korea. A number of titles are received from the People's Republic of China, Georgia, Armenia, and the countries of Soviet Central Asia. Current issues are held in the division for use by the public.

Jewish Division

This division contains one of the largest collections of Jewish newspapers and periodicals in the United States. The newspapers, which originate in many nations, are collected both in their original form and on microfilm. Many of the filmed titles are available for sale and are listed in the Library's Publications in Print and Titles Available on Microfilm, which is published annually. A detailed description of periodical and newspaper holdings in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino is given in chapter 10 of this Guide.

Manuscripts and Archives Division

Among the resources of the Manuscripts and Archives Division are collections relating to New York City newspapers, particularly the files of editors and publishers. Among these are the papers of James Gordon Bennett, editor and publisher of the New York Herald (2 boxes): John Bigelow, coowner and editor of the New York Evening Post (39-volume diary, 24 other volumes, and 38 boxes); Robert Bonner, publisher of the New York Ledger (3,500 pieces); Parke Godwin, editor of the New York Evening Post (17 boxes); Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune (5 boxes); George E. Jones, one of the founders of the New York Times (250 pieces); St. Clair McKelway, editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (4 file drawers); and Henry J. Raymond, a founder and editor of the New York Times (125 pieces).4

Prints Division

The Prints Division contains a great deal of material pertaining to newspaper cartoons, including original drawings by Thomas Nast and the proofs of the political cartoons of Rollin Kirby and Daniel F. Fitzpatrick. The James Wright Brown cartoon collection contains original editorial cartoons by American artists.

Additional Resources

Materials in the general collections include a number of trench and camp newspapers of World War I. Also important is a complete file of Yank for both World Wars, and an almost complete file of Stars and Stripes in the single edition of World War I and the 30 editions of World War II.5 The library's extensive holdings of the publications of free and resistance movements and clandestine publications for the World War II period include many newspapers. Papers published in countries formerly occupied by Germany and those published by the Allied occupying forces number approximately 600 separate titles dating between 1945 and 1949; these are augmented by 172 reels of filmed post-World War II German papers administered by the Newspaper Collection. Spanish newspapers of the period immediately preceding the Spanish Civil War are also noteworthy. There is a collection of Hungarian newspapers published during the uprising of 1956.


The library's holdings in the field of journalism contain not only texts and treatises on the subject, but also periodicals, directories, and other related material, including a strong collection of bibliographies, union lists, indexes, and directories of newspapers. An important feature is the history of the press (general, international, national,

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and regional), and the history of individual newspapers. The library also has an extensive group of materials published by or relating to schools of journalism. The special files noted above in the discussion of the Newspaper Collection, although of restricted access, supplement the regular holdings. Manuscripts and Archives Division holdings related to newspapers are described above; materials in the division relating to Charles Hanson Towne, editor of Harper's Bazaar, are more closely related to periodicals and are described in chapter 4 of this Guide.