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Chicago History Fair 2024: Using Newspapers

Newspapers Are Primary Resources

Newspapers present first-hand accounts of contemporary events or issues, so they are considered primary sources.

Newspaper reporters and editors report the facts, but they have different perspectives based on the politics and interests of their editorial boards and audience. Comparing different newspaper accounts can reveal historical questions about your topic. The Encyclopedia of Chicago gives an overview of various Chicago-area newspapers and their perspectives.

Online vs. Microfilm

Online newspapers:

  • Can be searched by keyword
  • Can be saved as digital files
  • Are expensive and usually available only through libraries (not on Google)

Microfilm newspapers:

  • Can be browsed by date
  • Can be saved as digital files
  • Require patience
  • Provide new perspectives on your topic

Chicago Newspapers Online at UIC Library

History Fair students will need staff assistance to access these online newspapers. They can be accessed only on the UIC campus. 

See our Newspapers Guide.

A limited selection of newspapers has been digitized to search online. These are expensive resources that are typically available only through libraries. If you rely only on the free newspapers you find via Google, you miss out on excellent historical resources.

Chicago Newspapers in Microfilm at UIC Library

When a newspaper is on microfilm, that means it has been photographed onto a small film. You need a machine, called a "microfilm reader" to view it. Libraries place newspapers on microfilm because doing so makes it easier to store them and because newsprint tends to deteriorate rapidly.

To find articles on your topic, you need to know the date when reporters would have written about that event or theme.