Searching Newspapers

Methods of accessing Woman's Exponent for further research and reading

Woman's Exponent, Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collection - features article segmentation, which can be useful for research.

Woman's Exponent, Utah Digital Newspapers - recently digitized with newer Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Utah Digital Newspapers

The J. Willard Marriott Library has been digitizing historical Utah newspapers for the Utah Digital Newspapers (UDN) program since 2001. The database currently contains around 3.5 million pages and is constantly growing. 

All digitized issues from Woman's Exponent are available for browsing and searching on UDN, starting with volume 1 no. 1 (June 1, 1872) and ending with volume 41 no. 14 (February 1, 1914).

The UDN website includes several help pages with examples on how to search and browse historical newspapers along with tips about the functionality of the site. When searching through UDN content, you must remember that the searchability is only as good as the computer-generated text, which was created through an  automated process using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

Given the nature of this OCR-created text, searching in historical newspapers is never 100% accurate. To help you be more successful in your search, here are some additional tips:

  1. Due to the different fonts, letter sizes, and quality of the digitized microfilm, several letter combinations may have been interpreted incorrectly by the OCR engine. Letters such as "h" and "b", "c" and "e" and "o", "r" and "n", or "m" and "rn" can often be confused. Other letters like lowercase "l" can be confused for the number one (1) or a slash. To overcome these possible issues, you can use wildcard searches with a question mark (?) to replace one character or an asterisk (*) to replace multiple characters.
  2. Manually typesetting a newspaper page was extremely strenuous work, so some errors may have been inadvertently introduced into the original text. Also, the typesetter may have used shortcuts to speed up the process. Some characters in words like McNulty may be replaced such as "M'Nulty." Other letters that look similar may be have been added incorrectly by the typesetter since they had to set the type backwards, such as "p" and "q".
  3. It is possible to conduct an exact search by adding quotes around multiple words. This is oftentimes not the best way to search OCR'd newspapers since there are likely spelling errors or additional (good or bad) words added in between phrases. If you think that two words should be near each other (e.g., a first and last name), you can conduct a proximity search. A proximity search is done by searching for two words in quotes followed by a tilde and a number, representing the number of words to search within. For example, searching for "Emmeline Wells"~2 will find all pages where the words "Emmeline" and "Wells" are within two words of each other. This would retrieve pages that may have "Emmeline Wells," "Emmeline B. Wells," or "Emmeline Blanche Wells," but it would not return pages with "Emmeline Blanche Woodward Harris Whitney Wells" since the two search terms are more than two words apart. The search query would need to be changed to "Emmeline Wells"~5 in order to find the last example.
  4. Be persistent. Even if you don't find the information you are looking for within the first couple of searches, it doesn't mean that the content is not there. You may have to try different search terms or even browse several issues to locate the desired content.

To cite this webpage, use the following citation: 

Myntti, Jeremy. “Searching Newspapers.” Woman’s Exponent Project, 2019.

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