Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In yet another digital coup, our friends in the University Library (as part of their fruitful partnership with the Canadian Research Knowlege Network) have now contrived to provide us with The Times Digital Archive: 1785 - 1985. That would be the Times of London, of course: like other venerable productions of British culture (see "Dictionary of National Biography") it does not bother to identify itself as such. The Times archive can be searched by keyword and offers (in very un-Times-like slashes of colour) "hit-term highlighting"of full facsimile images of either a specific article or a complete page. The entire newspaper is captured, with all articles, advertisements and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate searching. To give a completely random example, those of you keen to follow the exploits of Lieutenant DesBrisay of the Marines of the Amazon need only click on "article" in the first hit for a search under that surname, then increase the magnification level of the ensuing image to something more closely approximating human capacities. Or just click here. The point of searching under that surname, of course, is to establish that one can indeed find almost anything in the Times.

As if having the Times is not enough, U of S Library users can now also access all 2 million or so pages of Toronto (sorry, Canadian) news in the Toronto Star: Pages of the Past published between 1894 and within a year or two or our shifting present. This resource, too, offers not just coverage of the great events of a given day, but a chance to retrieve scarcely recalled events from the vast depths of time. Everyone knows, for example, that the Toronto Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since Canada entered its second century of confederation, and yet careful checking reveals that the Leafs have indeed won the Cup since the Rolling Stones had their first North American hit, back when Tim Horton was a hockey player and the last of the baby-boomers were being born. Indeed, one diehard Leafs fan and esteemed member of the History Department still bears a small grudge against her otherwise admirable parents for not having allowed her, on account of her extreme youth, to attend the Leafs victory parade of May 5th, 1967 (see Toronto Star edition of May 6). Barely ambulatory but already every inch the historian, the esteemed member understood that future generations would never again celebrate a Leafs triumph, nor even refer to the Cup and the Leafs in the same sentence without a large dollop of irony.

Both the Times and the Toronto Star can be accessed under "T" in the "Database" section of the Library catalogue.