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Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Newspaper Archives as Archaeological Site Survey


Relative to other historic documents, newspapers have received little attention from researchers as a source of archaeological data. Now that many historic newspapers have been digitized and placed online, this traditionally underutilized resource has the potential to yield new information about archaeological sites, especially those in heavily developed urban areas where sites are inaccessible or have been destroyed. In this article, a methodology is proposed by which archived newspapers might be searched for data about archaeological sites. A case study using newspapers from Allen County, Indiana and its principal city, Fort Wayne, demonstrates the utility of the methodology by producing evidence about many previously unrecorded archaeological sites.

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Fig. 1


  1. (1902). Find an Indian skeleton. 4 October. Fort Wayne, Indiana.

  2. (1903). Find remains of three redskins. 3 October. Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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The author needs to recognize the University of Northern Iowa which partly supported this project through a 2014 Summer Fellowship. Also, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology needs to be thanked for creating and maintaining the SHAARD database and allowing me access to it for this project. Rachel Sharkey, the Records Check Coordinator, was particularly helpful in setting up access and answering my questions. The anonymous reviewers who improved the original manuscript also deserve thanks. A debt of gratitude is owed to my family. My father and historian, Alan Gaff, helped with initial research, aided in resolving discrepancies, and taught me a lot about the use of historic newspapers. My mother and historian, Maureen Gaff, also helped with research through her experience at the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Collection and knowledge about the early history and development of Fort Wayne. Henry Gaff and Claudia Gaff spent a lot of time at the library and helped with the surveying of sites. Once provided with bubble tea and red velvet funnel cake, there are no two better research assistants.

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Correspondence to Donald H. Gaff.

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Gaff, D.H. Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Newspaper Archives as Archaeological Site Survey. J Archaeol Method Theory 24, 451–465 (2017).

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  • Archaeological survey
  • Newspaper research
  • Allen County, Indiana
  • Archaeological methods