Libraries & Special Collections

How do I find out what newspapers are at the State Historical Society?

Here’s the best way to search for newspapers in our online catalog.

  1. Instead of using “Basic Search,” use “Advanced Search.”
  1. Use the name of the town where the newspaper was published as the keyword.
  1. Scroll down to “Limit Search to” and click on the “Format” arrow to access a list of options.  Choose “Newspaper.”
  1. You can also limit your search by language by using the “Language” pop-down box.  (SHSI holds many newspapers in languages other than English.)
  1. Using the “Date Range” boxes doesn’t work well for newspapers.  Leave those blank.
  1. Click on the “Search” button, and you’ll get a list of newspapers.
  1. If you only want to see a list of newspapers from a particular location (instead of a list of both the Des Moines SHSI library and the Iowa City SHSI library), click on the “Location” button and choose the location you prefer.
  1. Once you find a record for a newspaper, you must click on the location to determine our actual holdings.  (The full record will only tell you when the newspaper was published; it won’t tell you which of those dates we actually have.)  You’ll also be able to see whether the newspaper is on microfilm, which means it is available for interlibrary loan, or in original newsprint format and available only by visiting one of our libraries in person.

There may be a few surprises in the list of newspapers you get. For example, if you’re searching for “Des Moines,” the Mediapolis News and the Burlington Hawkeye will be listed because they are in Des Moines County; you’ll even get the Kossuth County Advance because it’s related to a paper called the Upper Des Moines (referring to the river).

If you don’t find what you’re looking for in the catalog, contact us to see if we’ve recently added it or if we know where else it might be available.  Call us at 515-281-6200 (Des Moines) or 319-335-3916 (Iowa City) or email us at (Des Moines) or  We’ll be happy to help!

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