Getting Started

Papers Past provides access to digitised copies of historic New Zealand newspapers.

There are two main ways to find information in Papers Past: searching and browsing. Searching lets you enter a query term and retrieves articles that contain that term. Browsing lets you look at all the newspapers, starting with a year, a region, or a newspaper title. All the newspaper titles on the site can be searched and browsed.

Issues, pages and articles

Each newspaper title was published as a series of newspaper issues. Each issue is made up of one or more newspaper pages. You can view all the newspaper issues and pages in Papers Past.

The newspapers in Papers Past have their pages divided up into articles, advertisements, and illustrations. Every issue has a Contents list that gives you direct access to the articles, advertisements and illustrations.

Browse by date

Use the Browse by date page to find titles published on a certain date. Select a year from the drop-down list, then click on the month you're interested in, and then on the day. A list of the newspaper titles available on this day appears, and you can click on the title you would like to look at. If there are no newspapers available for a month or day, they will not be clickable.

Go to the Browse by date page

Browse by region

Use the Browse by region page to see which newspapers are available for the places you are interested in. There is a map on the page, which you can click on to see the newspaper titles available for that region. The page also shows newspaper titles with national coverage.

Go to the Browse by region page

Browse by title

This page lists all the newspaper and periodical titles available on Papers Past.

Go to the Browse by title page

Search

The Search page lets you enter a query term and retrieves articles that contain that term. Find out more about using Search on the Search help page.

Go to the Search page

You can search from the search box on the homepage, the search box on newspaper publication pages, or the search page, which offers advanced search options.

Using the Search box

Enter your search term/s in the search box and click on the Search button.

If you enter more than one search term, the search engine will retrieve articles containing all of your search terms. For example, new and plymouth.

If you would like to increase the number of search results, select "Any of your words", which will retrieve articles containing either new or plymouth.

If you would like to reduce the number of search results, select "Exact phrase" which will only retrieve articles containing "new plymouth".

You can also use the Boolean operator NOT ("without the words") to narrow your search results. For example, plymouth NOT new will retrieve articles about Plymouth but not New Plymouth.

Using the Search page

The search page contains more search options

Restrict your search to particular newspaper titles using the Newspaper drop-down box. Hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one title at once.

Restrict your search to a date range by selecting the desired day, month and year in the "From" and "To" drop-down boxes.

You can also restrict your search to one or more of 3 content types. The searchable content has been divided up into articles, advertisements and illustrations (the search engine searches the illustration captions). Hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one content type at once.

Show preview images

You can choose to display search results with preview images, which highlight the portion of the article which contains your search term/s. This is very useful way of quickly identifying items in which you are interested.

Because showing preview images can slow the loading of the search results, the default setting does not show preview images. You can enable this by turning on "Show preview images".

Printing

Papers Past provides copies of the newspaper issues and newspaper pages in Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) format that are easy to print. The PDF files are generated automatically at the time you request them, so they can take a long time to generate, especially for newspaper issues with many pages.

The newspaper pages are displayed in reduced resolution so they are easier to download. You can also select a high resolution PNG version of each newspaper page if required.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I print out an article?

One way to do this is to use your browser's print command to print out an article you have retrieved.

Another method is to download the PDF version of the page containing the article and open it in the Adobe Acrobat Reader program. Once you have done this, select the desired article by clicking on the camera icon or snapshot tool, and then use the mouse to drag a box around the region you want to print. Choose "Print" from the file menu, tell Acrobat to print the selected region only, and to scale it up using the "Fit to Paper" option.

How do I print out a page or a newspaper issue?

Download the page-level or issue-level PDF by clicking on the "Download a printable PDF" button, load the document in Acrobat Reader, and then click on the print button.

How do I re-size articles?

Download the page-level or issue-level PDF by clicking on the "Download a printable PDF" button, then you can use the zoom function in Adobe Acrobat to enlarge articles.

How do I save an article?

One method is to get the article on the screen and use the File menu in your browser to save the web page. (Note that if you right-click on the article image and try to save or copy it you may only get part of the article.)

Another method is to download the PDF version of the page containing the article and open it in the Adobe Acrobat Reader program, select the desired article by clicking on the camera icon or snapshot tool, and then copy the article into a word processor document and save it.

How do I save a page/newspaper issue?

Download the page-level or issue-level PDF by clicking on the "Download a printable PDF" button, load the document in Acrobat Reader, then click on the "Save a Copy" button.

How do I copy text from articles?

Click on the "View computer-generated text" button on the article page, then cut and paste the text into Word. You will then need to compare the text against the original article and correct any errors that have resulted from the automated optical character recognition process.

How do I move from one newspaper issue to the next?

Click on the green arrow to the top right of the issue page.

How do I move from one newspaper page to the next?

Click on the green arrow to the top right of the newspaper page.

About the Papers Past website

What's next for Papers Past?

As well as adding new titles to Papers Past every year, we also hope to do research into ways to improve the accuracy of the optical character recognition (OCR) process and into the editing of text.

Are you going to correct errors in the text?

The accuracy of text created from optical character recognition (OCR) will never be 100%, especially when you are working from historical newspapers that are often not in very good condition. With more than three million pages, it is not possible for us to correct all errors manually. However, we are interested in investigating how we can involve users in improving the OCR text.

Why does it take so long to download images of pages and articles?

The pages are scaled down before being sent over the internet to your browser. It takes quite a lot of CPU power to do this, which takes some time when the system is under a heavy load. As a result of this processing, however, a much smaller page is sent to your browser. This means that people on slow connections can download the (smaller) pages much faster then they used to.

What's the best way to link to Papers Past?

The official URL for Papers Past is: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/

The Māori language version of the homepage is: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?l=mi

What's the best way to link to a specific newspaper?

Information on the structure of our web addresses coming here soon.

Need more help?

Contact us

  1. New formats

    Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.

  2. Hierarchy

    These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.

  3. Search

    Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.

  4. Search

    Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.

  5. Search facets

    Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.

  6. View selection

    Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.

  7. Tools

    Print, save, zoom in and more.

  8. Explore

    If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.

  9. Need more help?

    The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.

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