May 09, 2003

Notes: Historical Online Archives

The Harvard Crimson Online Archives now extend back in time to 1900. A huge amount of work in American history and sociology is now potentially a lot easier...

Posted by DeLong at May 9, 2003 10:39 AM | TrackBack



I agree there is value in making old articles costlessly available online. I applaud the Harvard Crimson.

In April 2003, the New York Times evidently changed it's policy of persistency for free access to old articles. [If you knew the article URL, you could go directly to it; if you did a search on a topic, you were charged to see the located articles.] Now, apparently, the URLs for articles older than a week or so direct you to an abstract and you are invited to pay $2.95 to see the whole article.

I am sure that law firms and businesses might be willing to pay that much but the average reader would find that too expensive to view an old Tom Friedman article. And think of all the ENRON articles by Kurt Eichenwald that are a treasure trove for professors of accounting, finance, and business ethics.

Of course, the New York Times should be compensated for maintaining access but I wish there was some acceptable payment mechanism to keep the articles available at something approximating marginal cost. Perhaps, a foundation could pay a large lump sum to the Times and then users would pay a nickel to see an article.

Remember the old days when we would cut articles out of the newspaper...and they would yellow, crumble, get lost? Yuck. We COULD do the electronic equivalent of cutting and saving, but think of the time and computer storage space that is unnecessarily expended.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Emmie on May 10, 2003 08:47 AM

Two thoughts:

1) Emulate what I'm told is the British system of having libraries pay royalties to authors of copyrighted books based upon access levels in order to develop a free, online, universal news/reference library for all American taxpayers. Funding to be taken from national missile defense.

2) In the real world,

"And think of all the ENRON articles by Kurt Eichenwald that are a treasure trove for professors of accounting, finance, and business ethics"

Alas, profs of such fields more than likely have access to LEXIS through their universities (does anyone at a U. not have access?) and so it's only average nonwealthy citizens who will be denied such information convenience.

Posted by: Paul on May 10, 2003 10:12 PM

This is the first free historical newspaper site I've seen. But you should know that there are a number of similar databases now available through some university libraries. Proquest has the NY Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Newsbank has the Chicago Tribune. Paper of Record has a bunch of Canadian newspapers. (a genealogy site) has an affordable if patchy database of various local papers.

Posted by: Andrew W. Cohen on May 12, 2003 11:59 AM
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