15 September 2011

The Growth of Newspapers Across the U.S.: 1690-2011

The Rural West Initiative, Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University has created a very interesting visualization which plots over 140,000 newspapers published over three centuries in the United States. The data comes from the Library of Congress' "Chronicling America" project, which maintains a regularly updated directory of newspapers.

This is not just fascinating and also helpful to us genealogists!  Though created to give a sense of journalism’s voyage west (which it does), it also allows anyone researching ancestors anywhere in the US, to get a sense of the density of newspapers in existence at any given point in time.  For example, in the 1770s, as expected, newspapers were pretty much only published along the eastern seaboard.  By 1807, there was a much more extensive network of published newspapers, though, if your ancestors lived in western NC, the graphic suggests that there were not newspapers being published.

1770s Map of Newspapers

1807 Map of Newspapers

Additionally, it is clear when newspapers were at the peak of their existence and the subsequent and persistent decline since as the visualization includes through the current year (2011.)

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