Well Google have just released their most impressive service in a long long time. Over at News Archive Search you can search on a bunch of newspapers worldwide going way back. In many cases you have to pay to see the scan of the paper itself but you can read the actual text for free.
As a test I put in the phrase “famine Ireland” and then selected “before 1880” and found a newspaper article from The Republican Compiler of Gettysburg on March 1st 1847 which mentions the suffering caused by the Irish famine.
This is an incredibly powerful tool for anyone interested in what was really going on at a particular time rather than the interpretation put on things by historians.
As a tool for schoolkids, it really does boggle the mind compared to what I grew up with. I remember our Irish history book in the Inter Cert doing 1922 to 1969 in a couple of pages and then stopping at 1969.
Imagine if the Irish Times, The Indo and whoever owns the rights to The Irish Press were to hand over their archives to Google Ireland? Hell, I’d be happy to see my tax euros spent on paying them to do it.
Next query, “bombing of Dresden”. Dunno why but it was the first thing that popped into my head after the famine. Oh I’m a barrel of laughs today.