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Lesson 6 – Deep Web Research

There are hundreds of deep web assets, but hundreds of those are not useful to a treasure hunter. I mean do you really need to look at, the big medical search engine? Not likely, but you may want to research if a doctor was publishing after 1986 for some reason.

So the biggies which are useful to treasure hunters, I’ve listed below. A good resource to also draw upon is where they list over a hundred specialized deep web engines. I just don’t know which one you need for your project, only you will be the one to figure that out.

”A good resource to also draw upon is where they list over a hundred specialized deep web engines.”

Library of Congress –

The Library of Congress has an enormous amount of material, collections, maps, and artifacts. One particularly impressive resource is the American Memory collection which contains many things, one of interest is interviews with elderly folk who lived through historical events. The true scope of the American Memory project is best described from the LOC website:

“American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s vast resources of digitized American historical materials. Comprising more than 9 million items that document U.S. history and culture, American Memory is organized into more than 100 thematic collections based on their original format, their subject matter, or who first created, assembled, or donated them to the Library.

The original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music. “

But of these sub collections in the American Memory project is the WPA life history. Also described by the LOC website as

“These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. “

An example of one, from the life of Ms. Oatfield, is below. The interview was January 6, 1939. So the reference to ’60s is about 1860s.

“…The old McNary donation land claim is just down the road a short distance. The old house, the photograph of which I am lending you, was destroyed only a few years ago. In the early ’60s a murder was committed there that scared the whole countryside. A woman named Mrs. Hager, two daughters and a son were living in the house. They were supposed to have quite a bit of money hidden away, at least the girls bragged about it. (cont.)”

So you can see why this is a very interesting resource. Just take care to identify the interviewee bias, as they may tend to exaggerate a bit to entertain the person interviewing them.

National Archives –

This government resource collection holds so much material that they claim it would circle the earth 57 times if printed out. To boil down what they have of interest, namely documentation on all wars that we have fought and also information on Indian affairs.

Of course they have lots of other stuff, but it will take you more than an hour just to understand the scope of their collection, how very little of it is online and that you will need to come into a regional center to do old fashioned research. Also, I can tell you it won’t cover local gritty historical stuff, only large-scale federal events.

Smithsonian –

The Smithsonian, our nations attic, can have useful tidbits from time to time. Check them out over at and you may find something very useful in a research hunt.

They have several collections, including an image collection which may be useful when trying to spot locations of buildings.

Overall, this is not a key resource, but it can be helpful.

Ohio State University

OSU hosts a splendid collection of Civil War documentation on troop movements, camps, letters to HQ, etc.

Perseus at Tufts University-

The majority of this collection is ancient history, it all contains some more recent 19th century American which encompasses the Civil War.

Collections include the Richmond newspaper during the Civil War, and hundreds of digitized documentation during that time frame. An excellent resource of primary and secondary sources. Especially, some harder to find books, even from libraries.

Some of these scanned sources are quiet memoirs and oblique works around the Civil War that it would take a researcher weeks to months to recognize these sources as relevant to a Civil War research project.


Highwire Press –

Stanford supports a searchable catalog of the largest repository of free and fee based full-text, peer-reviewed content (hint! – high authority), from over 900 different journals.

One of the nifty things you can do, is set the time-frame of the subject you are searching for to the era of interest to you. ie. 1920-1922 for example. And you will pull up interesting periodicals from that time-frame.

This is one of those tools that will only be useful if you are imaginative in your search criteria.

For example, I searched for “moonshining” and pulled up interesting articles in a periodical called the Journal of American History. However, some articles are full text free and some are fee based. Now I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for the article, so I’ll just write down the issue number and date then see if I can fine the full text elsewhere using a deep web engine. If I can’t find it online, I’ll take my shopping list of articles I want with me when I visit my library next. Often my library will have a subscription that lets me see some of these. The remainder of articles that I can’t find elsewhere, I just have to decide if I want to fork out the cash to buy access to them.

Newspaper Archives

The larger newspapers have their Archives online. Like the New York Times, but others are defunct like the Dallas Times Herald and only have some issues scanned by local universities. Some may be available via the Library of Congress or at your State Library.

Major newspapers

New York Times – placed their archives online.

Chicago Tribune – (search for archives)

Los Angeles Times –

Regional newspapers in the US and Canada

Below is a list of sources with comprehensive lists of nationwide newspaper archives. Some of these links will break over the years, but many of these lists overlap. I believe you should be able to find your newspaper from the ones still live.

Google Newspaper Archives – which has tied into the Library of Congress, Several Universities, City Libraries, and other digital collections. Nationwide list of newspaper archives.

Library of Congress Newspaper Archives – which is a list of hundreds of US and Canadian newspaper resources. I hold the LOC with great respect for their quality of resources they list online. – (commercial) has newspaper archives and publications available to members. Be sure to check out the Library of Congress first.

University of Penn Newspaper Archive – is a useful list of US newspaper archives and dates. Looked like a deeper list of Texas newspapers, so this effort my be a deep comprehensive list. – (commercial) – Known for a large collection. I haven’t used it, so I can’t confirm this. is an deep, broad and awesome resource for researchers. This site is truly an archive of wonderful items of text, sound, and video. It contains everything from the old Edison company 1900 footage of the Galveston hurricane destruction, to audio interviews of slaves, to scans of old rare history books.

This will be one of the regular resources you will peruse on every history project you undertake. Because all the items in the vast catalog are indexed and tagged, an intelligent search using focused keywords will discover previously unknown books, manuscripts, memoirs, photos, and recorded accounts. Often I had no idea such resources existed, I simply queried for certain words and hit a jackpot of information.

One of the key searches that should be done on any lead generating search is to look for ALL the local history books for a certain county or region. Earlier is usually better, as the historical accounts are covered in more depth and more names are given to lead you to primary sources. Old county books are the true prize on You are seeking the older out-of-print county history books that your local libraries don’t have and can’t get. Be warned, many county history books have neither the word “county” nor “history” in their name. For example a critical book for me was titled “Land of Good Water”.

It is from recent county history books that you will learn the names of the older books, and from these older books you may learn of even older reference works. There is a chain of progression you must follow. Some of the reference books may be memoirs, or books that history was a peripheral chapter in them. These can either corroborate some of your research, or point you to somewhere new.

Photos are also available and I encourage you to always search to see if your area of interest has a photo in archived here.


Multi Source Search Engines – This is a multi engine search page. It runs your keyword search across all the major and minor engines. – This engine runs your search via each niche: News, Web, Resource, Blog, Image, etc. You merely review the top answers to each niche, and chose which subset niche you are after. Quite handy as you will discover most the time, you were really looking for answers from a certain niche. – Google found a way to tap and index huge chunks of academic papers. Sometimes only the abstract was indexed. So this is more kind-of-deep web rather than deep web.


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