Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Chronicling America (1836-1922)

Chronicling America (1836-1922) – http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What were some headlines from a 100 years ago?
  • Where can I read contemporary accounts of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii?
  • When did Houdini make a movie of some of his magic tricks?


This site has digitized newspapers for 25 states and the District of Columbia covering the period from 1836 to 1922. The end year is the last year that newspapers were part of the Public Domain. Anything past 1922 is still under copyright and much harder to legally make available. As of this writing, works including newspapers dated 1923 should come into the Public Domain on 1/1/2019.

The site may be searched by keyword, browsed by state, ethnicity, language or recommended topic. Results are shown as images which can be enlarged and moved around. Pages may be downloaded as PDF or text. In the few samples I checked, the text was not formatted well. You are better off with the PDF if you download material.

The recommended topics include a brief introduction, a timeline and links to selected articles. They could also serve as story starters.


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