OldNews USA now lets you control which newspaper to use for search suggestions!
One of my favorite features of OldNews USA is the automated search suggestions. If you read my Newspaper Search Hacking with OldNews USA article, you know I like to use the search suggestions to save time. The latest version of OldNews USA, released on May 1st, adds a new feature to make the search suggestions even more useful.
Before I describe the new feature, let’s recap how the app generates the search suggestions.
When you use OldNews USA to find a person, you begin by entering a name, a date range, and a location. OldNews USA uses the location and date range to automatically suggest the top ten newspapers that are most likely to contain articles about your person. This list of newspapers is ordered by distance from the location that you specified.
OldNews USA will pick the newspaper published closest to the location, and then generate 10 different Search Suggestions for this newspaper. If two or more newspapers are tied for being the closest, the app will use the newspaper with the most issues.
For example, in the screen above you can see that there are three newspapers published in Minneapolis with issues available between 1890 - 1910. Since The Minneapolis Journal has the most issues available, the app uses The Minneapolis Journal to generate Search Suggestions. The app indicates which newspaper it used for the Search Suggestions by highlighting the row in a brighter yellow color.
This approach for selecting the best newspaper to use in the Search Suggestions works well much of the time, but not always. In above example, if the person I am searching for was French-Canadian, the best newspaper to search might be the Echo de l’ouest newspaper. If the person was Irish, The Irish Standard might be more likely to contain articles about my person. I could take the search suggestions generated for The Minneapolis Journal and modify each search by selecting a different newspaper, but that would take a few more clicks. I hate extra clicks and data entry, don't you?
Long Press to Select a Different Newspaper
You now have control over which newspaper OldNews USA will use for the Search Suggestions. All you need to do is to select a different newspaper using a “long press”. Using the Newspaper Suggestions card, just press and hold the row containing the newspaper you want to use for a second or so. The app will change the color of this row and display a popup notification to let you know that it updated the Search Suggestions using the newspaper you selected. You can then scroll up to the Search Suggestions card, and use the 10 new newspaper search suggestions with a single click.
Using this new feature, you can now quickly cycle through the list of suggested newspapers and have the app generate 10 search suggestions for each newspaper. That is 90 more search suggestions that you can have the app generate for you, and that you can try without any additional data entry. If you are fortunate enough to have many newspapers published close to your ancestor’s location, you may want to thoroughly search all of the nearby newspapers.
Search Easier and Smarter
Effective newspaper research requires trying lots of search variations, since you never know how a person’s name may appear in an article, or which local newspaper might have an article mentioning your person. Try OldNews USA today to help you research smarter and with less effort. You might just find an elusive article that reveals a fascinating story about your family!