24 August 2010

Searching for Sylvia Plath & the Google News Archive

A few of you may have read my paper "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath" in Plath Profiles 3. For this article, I used microfilm and internet resources to create a bibliography of articles on Plath's first suicide attempt on August 24, 1953 that vastly increases the known publications which ran the news story and builds upon those articles presented in previous bibliographies. Microfilm is presently the best resource we have for searching through older newspapers; and whilst it is not the sexiest technology out there it certainly does serve a good purpose.

However, some genius decided to scan obscure & not-so-obscure newspapers from microfilm, run OCR, and make them searchable via Google News Archive. There are other tools for this kind of thing, such as ProQuest Historical Newspapers and others. However, since Google News Archive is largely free and doesn't require a subscription, this is one of my favorite tools and will greatly enhance the availability of older materials out there on Sylvia Plath (and probably other subjects but who cares about those!). This of course will benefit current and future research projects.

To save you some time and perhaps trouble, I'll post a few useful or interesting Sylvia Plath related links:

Sylvia Plath (in general); August 1953; Bell Jar lawsuit (1987 January & February); Gravestone controversey (1989, April & May).

And of course there is much more including book reviews and like today, many articles just name drop. Not all of the articles are free, but you are typically given enough information to then go and visit a library or request the article via interlibrary loan to save some money in your purse or wallet. This is an amazing research tool and I hope you enjoy using it as much as I have!


Julia said...

Fun! Thanks for the tip, Peter. I am positive I'll be using it in my work.

Peter K Steinberg said...


You're welcome. I hope you find useful Plath stuff (and other stuff) through the resource. I think it is possible to discover a whole new world through a tool like this.


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