World Newspaper Archive


What makes a primary source interface a GREAT interface?

When Readex recently posed this question to a wide range of researchers, we heard four crucial things:

  • Modern styling—researchers want primary source databases that are visually engaging and feel “right”
  • Ease of use—both experts and novices want their path to primary sources to be simple and intuitive
  • Speed!—software must search quickly, deliver relevant results in a blink, and rapidly display large images
  • Flexible tools that optimize content use and which map to common user needs and workflows.

With this feedback front and center, Readex has been busy making fresh improvements to its interfaces.

Two months ago I had the pleasure of announcing a major overhaul of the America’s Historical Newspapers and World Newspaper Archive platform. User reaction has been extremely positive, and it’s gratifying to see more usage and better research outcomes.

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We’ve already saved many users a substantial amount of time, too, by introducing a number of efficiencies to the interface.

Of course the work is never done, nor should it be. It’s important to stay abreast of needs and to make continuous improvements to our interfaces and services.

During the past several months we’ve been focusing on the fourth bullet above—“flexible tools that optimize content use.” Much of our effort has focused on enhancing the “document view” experience (sometimes called the “image viewer”) in our products. This is where users encounter the actual primary source in image form.

Throughout 2018, we met with users and asked them about the image viewer. Here’s what they said:

What makes a primary source interface a GREAT interface?

Extra! Extra! New Era Begins for America’s Historical Newspapers!

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What a story!

Way back in the early 1940s, book publisher Albert Boni, co-founder of the Modern Library publishing company, established the Readex Microprint Corporation in New York City and Chester, Vermont.

Boni’s purpose: Create surrogates of American historical documents, first to ensure their preservation, and second to enable wide access to the raw materials that document the American journey.

A decade later, in 1955, the American Antiquarian Society invited Readex to publish in microprint form Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800. Suddenly the near-entire corpus of the earliest American books could be accessed in libraries across the United States and the world.

Over the years more books would be discovered and added to the “Evans” collection—a quest that continues even today.

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The success of this partnership led to the microform publication of Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819, and Early American Newspapers , Series 1, 1690-1876.

Extra! Extra! New Era Begins for America’s Historical Newspapers!

Announcing Image Viewing Enhancements for America’s Historical Newspapers and America’s Historical Imprints

On September 12, 2016, America’s Historical Newspapers and America’s Historical Imprints were updated with new features that improve image viewing and reading. These features include a larger image screen, a navigation box for easy scrolling, full-screen viewing capability (meaning a user can expand the image to fit the entire screen, on any device), and improved magnification tools. These enhancements provide a more powerful and effective reading and viewing experience for researchers.

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Features like the table of contents, email, download, citation export, and more, are all still available. Nothing has been taken away from users, and much has been improved.

With the new image viewer, students and researchers will find the reading and viewing of images to be easier and more enjoyable, and their time spent on research will be more productive.

The enhanced image viewer is one of many improvements made to Readex interfaces over the past year. In mid-2015 Readex launched new interfaces for America’s Historical Newspapers, America’s Historical Imprints, and World Newspaper Archive. The new interfaces offer stronger graphics (appealing especially to students) and improved navigation. In February 2016, Readex launched Readex AllSearch, a new platform that lets users search across all Readex collections at once.

Announcing Image Viewing Enhancements for America’s Historical Newspapers and America’s Historical Imprints

The Father of Brazilian Soccer: Searching for Charles Miller in Latin American Newspapers

As a rising global power, Brazil has received a large share of international news coverage during the past few years. Now with the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off this month, the media spotlight has returned to the world’s fifth largest country, a land where soccer is the most popular sport and whose national team has won the most World Cup titles.

But where does all this football talent come from? How and why did soccer—or futebol as it is known there—become Brazil’s top sport? Although the full story of Brazil’s infatuation with football remains unclear, Miller’s major role in fostering interest is supported by a search of Latin American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1805-1922.

The Father of Brazilian Soccer: Searching for Charles Miller in Latin American Newspapers

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

Ascents of Everest are now so numerous they often don’t make the news anymore, unless there is a devastating loss of life, a brawl among Sherpas and climbers or a race between octogenarians to become the mountain’s oldest successful climber. Yet from early attempts in the 1920s until the triumphant expedition in 1953, attempts at Everest were widely covered. The exotic nature of the quest meant that newspapers could combine graphics and photography in the layout of their pages, as will be seen in the articles below. 

Everest was named after a former British colonial official, though the mountain had local names, including the Tibetan Chomolunga. Since both Nepal and Tibet had closed their borders to foreigners, the British didn’t know the native names. They did know it was the tallest mountain in the Himalayas, from surveying it from afar, and the tallest in the world. They also knew that only a highly organized team could conquer it. In fact, before the first attempt in the 1920s, there was actually an expedition to survey the area and plan a later attempt at the summit. 

These first two excerpts come from the World Newspaper Archive: South Asian Newspapers; the rest are from America’s Historical Newspapers. 

From The Leader of Allahabad, India, on 15 January 1921:

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

Jallianwala Bagh: A Landmark in the Struggle for Freedom

In February 2013, British Prime Minster David Cameron laid a wreath in Amritsar, India, the site of a bloody crackdown by British troops against pro-independence protesters in 1919. The British attack left more than 1,000 Indian civilians dead. At the recent wreath-laying ceremony, Cameron wrote in the visitors’ book:

 

This was a deeply shameful event in British history—one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as ‘monstrous’. We must never forget what happened here. And in remembering, we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right of peaceful protest around the world.

Known today as the “Amritsar Massacre,” the violent crackdown is widely viewed by historians as a key turning point towards India’s eventual independence from ruling Britain. This pivotal event is covered extensively in the native Indian and British Raj newspapers found in South Asian Newspapers, 1864-1922, a module in the digital World Newspaper Archive created in partnership between Readex and the Center for Research Libraries.

Jallianwala Bagh: A Landmark in the Struggle for Freedom

Slavery in Brazil: A Few Examples from Historical Newspapers

According to purehistory.org, Brazil was one of the world’s largest importers of African slaves, obtaining approximately one-third of the slaves taken from Africa during the Atlantic slave trade. It is estimated that more than three million Africans were sent to Brazil as slaves, a far higher number than were imported into North America.¹ As the number of Africans forced to farm cotton and sugar plantations grew from the 16th to the 19th century, the Brazilian economy became highly dependent on slave labor. Even after obtaining independence from Portugal in 1822, Brazil resisted the U.K.-led anti-slavery movement.²
Slavery in Brazil: A Few Examples from Historical Newspapers

Finding Fatalism and Overconfidence in a Cruel Port (by Ian Olivo Read)

Finding Fatalism and Overconfidence in a Cruel Port: The Bubonic Plague’s First Appearance in Brazil

By Ian Olivo Read, Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies, Soka University of America

Published by Stanford University Press on January 25, 2012

Finding Fatalism and Overconfidence in a Cruel Port (by Ian Olivo Read)

World Newspaper Archive: A uniquely comprehensive collection spanning the globe

The World Newspaper Archive represents the largest searchable collection of historical newspapers from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Providing new opportunities for fresh insight across wide-ranging academic disciplines, this collection was created in partnership with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL)—one of the world's largest and most important newspaper repositories.
World Newspaper Archive: A uniquely comprehensive collection spanning the globe

What's New at Readex - Summer 2011

To explore our newest collections, please visit Readex at booth 3140 at the 2011 American Library Association conference. Or visit readex.com for detailed product information about these uniquely valuable resources:
What's New at Readex - Summer 2011

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