Historic newspapers are essential sources for the study of local history. They provide stories of local interest such as city council actions, local political campaigns, activity of local courts, crime reports, daily weather reports; obituaries, marriage, and birth announcements that provide personal and genealogical information; reports on local, national, and global markets that affect the local economy; local perspectives on national and global affairs; and advertisements reflecting local fashion, entertainment, and popular household goods.
Before the Civil War, local newspapers rarely reported local news stories extensively, at least partially because most residents were familiar with each other and conveyed news by word of mouth. The editors of these papers were usually partisan, covering events of interest to their editors. These newspapers included advertisements placed by enslavers seeking to purchase or sell enslaved people, searching for freedom seekers escaping bondage, and seeking to hire out enslaved people from their owners. For some events, researchers may want to consult newspapers published in cities such as New York, Baltimore, or Richmond where Washington events may be discussed more extensively.
By the 1870s, newspaper editors attempted to report objectively, that is, without any apparent editorial stance. They also routinely reported local events so that newspapers became a more comprehensive record, often supplemented with materials provided by wire services such as the Associated Press or United Press International.
The alternative press has been active throughout the nation's history. These newspapers give voice to people leading reform movements such as the abolition of slavery, civil rights, and women's and Black suffrage. Currently, the alternative press advocates for Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ causes, immigrant rights, and labor unions.
This guide is designed to enable researchers to maximize the sources available at Lauinger and on external sites. Learn how to use the following search portals:
Where do I start to look for Lauinger newspaper holdings?
HoyaSearch should be the first stop for anyone interested in identifying the historic and global newspapers held by Lauinger Library. This one-stop discovery tool allows researchers to search the contents of databases. Most of the newspapers provided by these subscriptions are linked to HoyaSearch. It is possible to search for a title such as "Evening Star," "Washington Post," and "National Intelligencer" to identify the locations of these newspapers within the databases.
The principal disadvantage of Hoyasearch is that researchers must know the exact title of the newspaper that interests them.
For these reasons, it can be important for researchers to devise other strategies to explore the Lauinger databases.
How can I identify the best means of accessing Lauinger databases?
The databases provide members of the Georgetown community access to a wide variety of digitized resources. They offer the advantage of allowing the researcher to determine the parameters of their search. For some types of research, it is helpful to find information across broad geographic and chronological boundaries. For others, it is best to search narrowly, across specific newspapers.
This abbreviated guide to the databases provides the vendor, individual subscriptions with short descriptions, and the collection search portal. Use the search portal to search the entire databases for personal and institutional names, subjects, and keywords across all content fields, including the descriptive metadata and the newspaper text. Researchers can search across the databases provided by each vendor. It is possible to create filters to narrow the geographic and chronological scope of within such searches.
Regardless of the scope of research, it is always helpful to know which newspapers comprise a database. This abbreviated guide also provides a link to each database's publication list. This is especially helpful for researchers who are not sure of the titles published within a city. Most of these publication lists are searchable by title, subject, place of publication, and date span.
Chronicling America, 1777-1963 (search portal and publication list)
How can I identify all the extant newspapers for a date span or place?
Use the most comprehensive discovery tool for historic newspapers printed in the United States is the U.S. Newspaper Database Directory, available on Chronicling America. The product of a multi-year project by the Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities. this directory can help researchers identify what titles exist for a specific time and place, and how to access them. This directory is searchable by keyword, date, state, county, or city. Individual entries for each newspaper includes their dates of publication, frequency, the medium of preservation copies (that is, microfiche, microfilm, or digital copies), and the repositories that hold the title. Often the entries include short histories of the newspapers that address the editorial positions of the newspapers, ownership changes, name changes, and circulation information.
The directory includes newspapers published from 1690 to the present. However, several entries have not been updated since the late 1990s, when the Library of Congress-National Endowment for the Humanities project closed.
Evening Star, 1952-1981 (alternate titles: Daily Evening Star, Star, Sunday Star, The Evening Star and Washington Daily News, Washington Star)
Georgetown Advocate, 1839-1941 (alternate title: Georgetown Daily Advocate)
National Intelligencer, 1800-1870 (alternative titles: National Intelligencer and Washington Advertiser; Daily National Intelligencer; Daily National Intelligencer and Washington Express): Founded as a tri-weekly to cover daily debates in Congress by strong supporters of Thomas Jefferson, this newspaper was printed as a daily after 1813. By the 1830s, it had become a strong Whig newspaper. It was the dominant newspaper of Washington which included fugitive slave advertisements, advertisements for the sale of enslaved people, employment advertisements, court reporting, and coverage of criminal activity and other local affairs.
National Republican, 1860-1888 (alternative titles: Daily National Republican; Weekly National Republican): Daily newspaper founded as the organ of the Republican party in Washington.
National Era, 1847-1860: An abolitionist newspaper with national reach, its editor Gamaliel Bailey reported on events witnessed from his publication offices in Washington.
The Washington Critic, 1868-1891 (alternative titles: The Critic, Daily Critic, The Evening Critic, The Critic and the Record, and Evening Capital and Critic): Initially devoted to criticism of music and the performing arts, this newspaper became one of the largest circulating newspapers in Washington and reported more broadly on local affairs.
The Washington Daily News, 1921-1972: an afternoon daily newspaper
The Washington Herald, 1906-1939: Established with the objective of upholding journalism in the era of muckraking, this newspaper covered domestic politics, global affairs, and local crime and personal interest stories. It also included pages on sports, market news, and women's interest.
The Washington Post, 1877-present (alternative titles: Washington Post and Times-Herald; Historical Washington Post):
The Washington Times, 1902-1939
The Washington Times, 1982-present: a conservative daily newspaper
The Washington Times-Herald, 1939-1954: Daily newspaper formed upon the merger of the Washington Times and Washington Herald.
Listed below are the digitized newspapers published in Alexandria available to the Georgetown community. In addition to consulting Lauinger databases, researchers can consult Virginia Chronicle compiled by the Library of Virginia to find other Virginia newspapers.
Alexandria Daily Advertiser (Alexandria, DC), 1800-1808 (alternate title: Alexandria Advertiser and Commercial Intelligencer)
Alexandria Daily Gazette & Advertiser (Alexandria, DC), 1808-1822 (alternate titles: Alexandria Daily Gazette, Commercial and Political; Gazette and Alexandria Daily Advertiser): daily newspaper
Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, DC and Alexandria, VA), 1834-1974 (alternate title: Alexandria Daily Gazette & Advertiser): Established as a Whig newspaper, this daily paper became a Democratic newspaper that advocated for Southern industry until the late 19th century.
Alexandria Herald (Alexandria, DC), 1811-1826: published semi-weekly or tri-weekly
Local News (Alexandria, VA), 1861-1862: daily newspaper printed from the office of the Alexandria Gazette when it was suppressed during the Union occupation.
Phenix Gazette (Alexandria, DC), 1825-1833, daily newspaper that was a predecessor of the Alexandria Gazette.
Colored American, 1893-1904 (Washington, D.C.): An illustrated weekly newspaper with original features on Black Americans published between 1893 and 1904, its advocacy of improved social conditions and civil rights earned it the backing of prominent civil rights figures living in Washington.
New Negro Opinion, newspaper established to protest discriminatory employment practices in Black neighborhoods.
Pittsburgh Courier, 1907-current (alternate title: New Pittsburgh Courier): One of the leading Black newspapers, Pittsburgh Courier had a Washington Bureau that reported extensively on Black activism.
Washington Afro-American, 1916-2015 (alternative titles: Afro-American and Washington Afro-American and Washington Tribune) a weekly newspaper of the Afro-American Co. which published in Richmond, Baltimore, and Philadelphia
Washington Bee, 1883-1922 (alternative title: The Bee) a weekly newspaper that strongly advocated for civil rights and became one of the most influential Black newspapers in the nation. It focused considerable attention on Black Washingtonians with a society page that covered events at Black churches.
Washington Informer, 1964-present, a weekly newspaper serving metropolitan Washington that seeks to portray positive images of Black people.
Washington Tribune, 1921-1946, a semi-weekly newspaper
Blacklight (Washington, DC): an independent newspaper for the gay Black community edited by Sidney Brinkley beginning in 1979
Quicksilver Times (Washington, DC): underground countercultural newspaper covering local and national news published between June 16, 1969 through July 1972
Unicorn Times (Washington, DC): small run arts newspaper published between 1973 and 1985
Washington Blade (Washington, DC): gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender newspaper that began publication in 1969 and has never ceased publication.
Washington City Paper (Washington, D.C.): alternative weekly newspaper first issued in February 1981. It is focused primarily on local news and arts.
Washington Free Press (Washington, D.C.): radical leftist independent newspaper that was an early member of the Underground Press Syndicate.
The Georgetown Current, 1991-2019: a weekly community newspaper for residents of Georgetown, Burleith, Foxhall, Glover Park, and lower Palisades
The Georgetowner, 1954-present: a biweekly community newspaper for Georgetown
The Hill Rag, 1976-present (alternate title: Washington's Hill Rag): a monthly community newspaper focusing on news and events on Capitol Hill that includes local commentary
The Northwest Current, 1968-2019 (alternate title: Potomac Current): a weekly community newspaper focusing on west of Rock Creek
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