Lesson 3 is all about browsing for online newspaper articles. This lesson will discuss the basics of browsing and why you should use it as well as searching.
In the "old" days, all you could do is browse through newspapers, either by flipping through original newsprint one page at a time or by scanning through microfilm copies, also one page at a time. And you can still (and should) do that, since only a small percentage of historical newspapers have been digitized.
Some online sites are browse only and some allow you to browse and search as well.
Browse is sometimes a VERY effective way to find articles that the OCR process did not pick up correctly. What that means is that the index created by the OCR process does not match the intended letters from the original scanned copy, so browsing may be your ONLY way to find an article. This is very important to know. More on this a little later in this article.
Here are a couple of examples of some online sites that provide a browsing option:
You can "smart browse" however. What I mean by this is that many newspapers tended to have the same sections on the same page number from daily edition to daily edition.
For example, obituaries may have generally been on Page 16. So if you know the death date, you can look at Page 16 in the newspaper for the death date and the same page for a week or two after the death date. I have found many obituaries this way, when the OCR created index did not pick up the name correctly.
- Birth and marriage licenses - generally found in the vitals section - usually on the same page from edition to edition
- Local human interest news about residents in the area
- Engagements and marriage announcements often found in the Society or Women's sections
- Legal notices, real estate transactions, etc.
- and many more
The moral is that because the same sections tended to be on the same page number - if you have an idea of the date of the event ahead of time, you can browse from edition to edition using that event date as a starting point. You would be amazed at what you can find if you Browse rather than always relying on searching and the search index.
Browsing is definitely worth it and may be your only option. Do not discount this important feature, whether online or offline. Make it part of your research repertoire. You will be glad you did.