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History of Cleveland & Northeast Ohio: Using Newspapers

Resources about the history of greater Cleveland and northeast Ohio.

Using Newspapers

In the Pressroom

A Pressman working at the Cleveland Press

A pressman works on one of the printing presses at the Cleveland Press

200 Years of Print Journalism in Cleveland

     On July 31, 1818, The Cleveland Gazette & Commercial Register was printed.  Though only four columns and four pages in length and printed weekly, this newspaper marked the beginning of print journalism in Cleveland.  Scores of newspapers followed and then for much of the 20th century two newspapers, in particular, battled one another for Cleveland's readers--the Cleveland Press and Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Visit Cleveland Memory Project's Journalism in Cleveland to learn more about Cleveland's journalists, columnists, photojournalists, and editorial cartoonists. 

     As part of the bicentennial celebration, Dave Davis and Joan Mazzolini have published a new e-Book Plain Dealing: Cleveland Journalists Tell Their Stories.  It is a collection of personal essays by 25 accomplished journalists about their careers, colleagues, newsrooms, the people they covered, and about journalism in Cleveland. 

     Consult the research guide on Cleveland Journalism for a bibliography on the history of journalism in Cleveland as well as anthologies and collections of the writings of the city's journalists and columnists. 

Hints on Researching Newspapers

Accessing Newspapers by Time Periods


ABSTRACT: Newspapers are important resources for studying local history, for they offer detailed information not traditionally found in "serious" histories, such as social history data and, even when better sources are desired, newspapers can often provide dates and other clues about where such information might be found. There is no single index to all of the newspapers of Cleveland, historically, so a variety of sources must be used to locate information of interest:

  • 1818-1876 -- The Annals of Cleveland. During the first 59 years that newspapers were published locally were indexed by the Works Progress Administration, during the Depression, and published as the Annals. They are a series of bright red bound books giving a subject-classified listing of summaries gleaned typically from just one paper for each year.  They are particularly good for the 27 years before the PD started publication.  Digital copies of the Annals are now available on-line from the Hathi Trust.
  • 1796-1946 -- William Ganson Rose based his 1950 book, Cleveland: The Making of a City, on newspaper sources and arranged it chronologically. Some hints as to when events happened and appeared in newspapers may therefore be inferred from his coverage and his book can be used as a rough index when nothing better is available.
  • 1845-1991 -- The Plain Dealer is now keyword searchable for free with a Cleveland Public Library card or as one of several subscription options from the PD's site. See links for free or paid access, in the left-hand column.  This is a terrific resource!
  • 1920-1982 -- The Cleveland Press Collection, in Special Collections at the Cleveland State University Library, was created by the staff of the Cleveland Press, the city's last afternoon daily, as a research library for its reporters. Actual clippings from the Press and other papers, or microfilmed copies, are arranged in subject order and provide good access to stories the Press felt worth saving during these years.
  • 1970-2000 -- The Scene, 1970-2000
  • 1983-present -- The Cleveland News Index is an on-line resource developed and maintained by the Cleveland Public Library. It has indexed the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine, Northern Ohio Live and Ohio Magazine from 1983 or 1990 up until 1999 or the present, depending upon the publication.

Beyond these mainstream media publications, Cleveland has hosted (and still does host) many ethnic, trade, weekly and alternative publications.  A good place to explore this is the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History's article on Print Journalism.

On-line Street Newspapers Archive (Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless' Homeless Grapevine and Cleveland Street Chronicle)




Research Basics

TIP:  Don't miss our handy Guide to College Writing, for helpful tips on research basics, including starting research projects and using Library resources, citations, avoiding plagiarism and more.