General Teaching Tips: Some topics are better suited than others for newspaper research. The best topics are those which can be connected to specific events, while the least suitable topics are those which show up not in events but in trends, long-term developments, or social movements.
Local political, government and military issues, public works projects, labor union strikes, natural disasters, eyewitness accounts of landmark events, local personalities, advertisements (including personal advertisements) are just some of the topics that can be readily researched in local and regional newspapers. In addition, political cartoons illustrating local social and political issues can be good sources for exploration and analysis. Commercial advertisements, classified and personal ads, social pages and obituaries are also fertile sources for local history research in newspapers.
As with any primary source, newspapers, broadsides and cartoons invite students to hone their critical thinking skills, to determine the objectivity and accuracy of a given source. In the case of newspapers, partisanship, boosterism and the possibility of heightened controversy for circulation reasons must all be considered as factors that influence the content and tone of the news.
Critical Thinking Questions
Advertisements and Broadsides:
"Poster (Broadside) Analysis Worksheet" National
Archives and Records Administration
Resources and Websites
"Massachusetts Newspapers" All online newspapers
linked by town.
Massachusetts Newspapers on microfilm at
the Boston Public Library
Online Newspaper Archives. Online newspaper
archives, digitized pages from selected newspapers from 1700's - 1900's;
essays related to newspapers and newspaper collecting.
The American memory Project, Library of
Congress. The Continental Congress Broadside Collection and the Constitutional
Convention Broadside Collection contain 274 documents relating to the
work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution.
(A "broadside" or "broadsheet" is an advertisement or public notice printed
on a large sheet of paper.)
Model Lesson Materials
"History from the Headlines: Using Arizona
Newspapers to Teach History". Superb teaching guide. Practical advice
on how to locate and do research in historic newspapers, plus 4 in-depth
lessons that could used as guides for creating curriculum for use in Massachusetts.
The New York Times Learning Network: Offers
detailed lesson plans and quizzes built around NYT articles. Includes
Lesson Plan Archive and search capability by keyword, subject, or grade
level. Social studies lesson plans are objective and standard-based and
are well supported by charts, graphs, and images.
"Spy Letters of the American Revolution:
Classroom Activities" Guidance in analyzing political drawings (Stamp
Act Funeral and Bostonians in Distress)
"NIE Online: Newspapers in Education"
Provides online lesson plans, quizzes, worksheets and other newspaper-oriented
resources materials for teachers.
"Cartoons for the Classroom" Newspapers in
Education. Archive of lesson plans and ready-to-use worksheets related
to modern political cartoons.
resource book was developed with support from