It has been a while since my last blog article, so let’s get caught up on the latest feature updates for OldNews USA.

New Features

We released version 3.0 of OldNews USA on Nov 23rd, just in time for the RootsTech Innovator Showdown competition. Version 3.1, which we released on January 7th, improves on some of the new 3.0 features. Let’s take a look at the new features:

Get Started

We made the Get Started card more intuitive while adding some choices that didn’t exist in earlier versions. A new user can chose to look for articles about a person or historical topic, or check out some of the inspirations.

Get Started Card
The Get Started card now has 3 options for starting your research.

Inspirations

OldNews USA is not just for genealogists.  The Inspirations view displays some notable articles from US history, and gives a new user an idea of the breadth of topics that one can explore with OldNews USA. Everything from the start of the Civil War to Babe Ruth being traded to the New York Yankees. Inspirations are pre-populated favorites that are created when you install the app, and are displayed in the same screen as user favorites. You can use the buttons in the toolbar to toggle the display of inspirations and favorites on or off.

Inspirations
Inspirations are built-in favorites that let a user explore some interesting articles without searching.

Person and Topic Goals

There are now three different types of research goals, with slightly different data and screens. A general research goal is the same as it has been since version 1 of the app, and if you were using the app prior to version 3, the goals you created still exist and can continue to be used without changes. Starting with version 3, when you create a goal, you create either a person goal or a topic goal. The differentiation of these goal types enables OldNews USA to create better search suggestions that make it easier to find articles about your person or topic. We also added the ability to enter additional keywords in addition to the person or topic name. The app uses these keywords to create more search suggestions that use the keywords to help narrow the search results when a keywords are used in a search.

Person Goal
Use the Find a Person screen to create a person goal.

More Search Suggestions

Newspaper research is challenging because you never know how a person’s name will appear in an article. The app uses the data from a person goal to create many more search suggestions than earlier versions, containing variations of the person’s name. These suggestions help you find your person by making it easy to try the most likely name variations, without any additional data entry. You simply select a suggestion to bring up a fully-populated search screen that you can try with just one click. The number of search suggestions that OldNews USA will create varies depending on the type of goal and the data that you enter. For a person goal, if you specify a location and a single keyword in addition to the person name, the app will create 10 search-by-newspaper suggestions and 10 search-by-state suggestions.

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions help you learn advanced search techniques by example.

Easier Goal Selection

OldNews USA has always supported multiple research goals, but prior to version 3 it was not that easy to change which goal you want to work on. With version 3, the Current Goal card displays the goal name in a widget that lets you quickly select a different goal to be your current goal, all from the main screen. When you select a different goal from the pull-down, the main screen instantly updates to show you the newspaper and search suggestions for this goal, and the last search that you tried for this goal. This feature makes it easy to work on multiple goals without losing the context of your work. As always, OldNews USA keeps a separate search history, research log, and suggestions for each goal.

Current Goal
The Current Goal card displays a summary of what you are hoping to find in the newspapers.

More Newspaper Titles

The Chronicling America website is constantly adding new newspaper titles and additional issues for existing titles to its collection. Most recently, there are many new newspaper titles for North Carolina, North Dakota, and New Mexico to name a few, plus more issues for newspaper titles from Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In the December timeframe, there were 29 new newspaper titles added, and 38 existing newspaper titles had additional issues digitized.

Download OldNews USA today and check out all of the new features, and see for yourself why the app was selected as a RootsTech semi-finalist. I hope I’ll see you at RootsTech 2017 in Salt Lake City!

New Features in OldNews USA

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