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Jewish Newspapers at the New York Public Library: Historical Newspapers on Microform

FAQs about newspapers on microfilm

Why are all the newspapers I want to see on microfilm?

Microfilm is a much more durable material than newsprint, and a reel of microfilm holds a lot of material while taking up very little storage space. Preserving newspapers on microfilm allows libraries like this one to keep more newspapers for longer than if we tried to preserve print copies.

Are there microfilm readers in the reading room? How do I reserve one?

There are two microfilm readers in room 111. While they are available on a first-come, first-served basis, we strongly suggest making an appointment so that we can reserve the reader for your use and request the materials you need. You can make an appointment using this calendar or by emailing dorotjewish@nypl.org.

What if I've never used a microfilm reader before?

Staff will be happy to show you how to use the microfilm reader. Just ask at the desk when you check in for your appointment.

Can I make scans from microfilm in your reading room?

Yes. Our microfilm readers can create PDF scans. Though there is a "scan to email" function, we strongly recommend bringing your own flash drive, especially if you want to scan more than a couple of pages at a time. 

I can't come to the library myself. Can I request a scan from microfilm?

Yes. Please contact the Library's Document Delivery service to inquire about obtaining copies for a fee. Reading Room staff cannot provide scans, and microfilm is not included in the Library's free Scan and Deliver service.

I'd prefer to see the original newspaper. Do you have it?

Sometimes, but often not. Newsprint is very fragile and does not last long, unlike microfilm. It is common practice for libraries to discard the original newsprint once a microfilm copy has been created. Keep in mind that even if the Library has retained a print copy, the condition may be very poor and it may not be possible to use it. When a microfilm copy exists, it is more suitable and durable. Please contact dorotjewish@nypl.org if you have any questions.

The microfilm copy is missing pages or issues. Will I find them in the print copy?

Most likely not. Many of our microfilmed newspapers were filmed directly from the newspapers in our collections, and missing pages or issues on microfilm typically mean that the page or issue was lost or damaged before the paper was filmed. It is possible that a print copy held by another institution will have the page you need. WorldCat can be a good source for determining which other libraries hold this item.

The digitized version I found in a database is missing the issue I need, or is missing pages. Will the microfilm copy have it?

It depends. In some cases, what you'll find online is actually scanned from the microfilm you'll find in the Library. In other cases, the database scans were created separately from the microfilm reels and may lack issues that are on microfilm (or vice versa). Dorot Division staff may be able to determine which is the case, but frequently there is no way to know other than checking to see for yourself.

I see a note that says "Damaged" or "Check with Staff" in the catalog record of the item I want to see. Can I still see it?

Contact dorotjewish@nypl.org to learn more; the answer is different for every item. In many cases, the damage does not affect legibility, but sometimes it does. Some microfilm is temporarily marked as "Damaged" while we await replacement copies, but is still useable in the meantime. 

What about microfiche?

Microfiche is also a filmed newspaper or book, but it appears on flat sheets instead of a reel. You can use the microfilm readers to view microfiche too. Microfiche call numbers generally start with *XMH. Often, if we have a periodical on microfiche rather than microfilm it is because it was a one-off publication created for a certain occasion, or because we only have a single issue.

Black and white photograph of a woman seated at a microfilm reader in the Mid-Manhattan Library

Mid-Manhattan, Users at the microfilm viewers
Digital collections image ID 1252841

World Jewish Periodicals on Microfilm

World Jewish Newspapers & Periodicals on Microfilm indexes world Jewish newspapers held on microfilm at the New York Public Library. It includes:

  • Alphabetical indexes by title
  • Indexes by place
  • Indexes by language
  • Indexes by date

This is not an up-to-date or exhaustive list. The Library now avoids creating lists like this one precisely because they are impossible to keep up-to-date. Nevertheless, it is an immensely useful research tool for the researcher who wants an snapshot of the Library's holdings in this area. It should be used in tandem with our Research Catalog and never in place of it.

To make the most of this list, follow these Do's and Don'ts:

  • Do: Use this list to browse newspaper titles in a specific language, from a specific time period, or published in a specific place.

  • Do: Search the call numbers provided in the Alphabetical Indexes in our Research Catalog (select “Standard Number” from the dropdown menu) to view full records.

  • Do: Remember this list was last updated in 2009. If you find a newspaper in the 1989-present list, that does not mean the paper is currently still published, or that NYPL still receives it or films it.

  • Do: Check the catalog to determine dates held by the Library and the current availability. A newspaper could have been published from 1930 to 1960, but we might only have issues from 1953. Always check the catalog listing to determine holdings, and contact dorotjewish@nypl.org if the dates we hold are not obvious.

  • Don’t: Assume that if something isn’t on this list, we don’t have it. We may hold historical newspapers not listed here. And remember that this list doesn’t include the Shared Collections, which provide access to some materials held by our partners at Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton.