Research Strategy:

Newspapers can serve as a rich source of both historical and contemporary information. If you consult newspapers as part of your overall research strategy, you can add a unique flavor to your writing; a flavor that is certain to impress your professor when used appropriately. However, there are limitations when using research found in newspapers.

The Schoolcraft College library has a variety of newspaper databases you can access on-line.

The newspaper databases may be searched from any computer on campus. You may also search them from off-campus computers if you have the proper passwords. You may get a list of passwords at the library or via e-mail by contacting If you request a list of passwords via e-mail, your e-mail message must include your full name, student number, and the Schoolcraft College course in which you are enrolled this semester. Unfortunately, because of licensing restrictions, passwords can only be supplied to Schoolcraft College students, faculty, and staff.

If you are not a Schoolcraft College student, check with the librarians at your college library to learn about accessing newspaper databases.

Limitations of Newspapers

The Virginia Newspaper Project at the University of Virginia has created R. M. S. Titanic: Ninety Years Later, an on-line exhibit. By spending time viewing this exhibit, you will get a very good idea about how using the historical information found in newspapers can add depth and interest to a research project.

Unfortunately, newspapers sometimes sacrifice accuracy for speed. Unlike with peer reviewed journals, newspapers do not have the luxury of having their articles read by content experts prior to publication. As you will learn in a section on Inacurrate Reporting found at the Virginia Newspaper Project's exhibit:

Even the technological advances of the telegraph and photograph (both of which gave a compelling immediacy to the Titanic tragedy) could not prevent the publication of a fair number or glaringly inaccurate reports regarding the events of the night of April 14, 1912. Most of these betrayed a touching optimism regarding the status of the stricken ocean liner. Any lingering doubts as to the Titanic's condition reported in the articles of April 15 were usually resolved by April 16.

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It is easy to joke about James Strang, a Mormon who established himself as King of Beaver Island, until you read contemporary newspapers accounts of his activities.

In Assassination of a Michigan King The Life of James Jesse Strang, Roger Van Noord relies heavily on contemporary newspaper accounts to paint a fascinating picture of this very complex and powerful man who while defying the federal government was twice elected to the Michigan legislature.