Online Newspaper Research Tutorial

Researching Anacortes Americans online

By Elaine Walker, Anacortes Museum Collections Curator

There are thousands of topics to explore when researching early Washington Newspapers online. See what you can find! Look up “bicycle” and learn that the Anacortes American editor hated them in 1906, or “cow” and find that an ordinance in 1904 made it illegal for them to run loose anywhere except on 11th to 16th streets. The mind boggles at the possibilities. Let's get started. 

1. Visit:

2. You can browse any topic within all of the digitized Washington Newspapers, or more specifically, only search Anacortes American pages:

anacortes american titles

 You can search by date or by keyword; from the Anacortes Americans, here we have entered “Funk”


From searching a simple term, you may get a lot of results. Many don’t seem to make sense. That’s because folds, tears, smudges and unusual fonts can confuse the optical character recognition feature. 

funk search

Let's look at result #1:

funk picture

Ah, the original article actually says “Wallie Funk Joins Army Signal Corps.” To help us fix it, click on “Correct this text,” which is on the last line before the garbled text (in green). You will get this sign-in page from the Office of the Secretary of State, Washington State Library:


If you haven’t been here before, click “Register” and start an account. The information you need to provide is your email address, first and last name, display name, and password.

After you log in, you will get a correction box. Type your corrections, then click “This block is completely correct,” “Save,” and then “Next.”


When you’re done, check the box “This block is completely correct,” then click on either “Save & Next” or “Save & Exit.”

If you are not big on proofreading, it would be very helpful even if you only corrected the spellings of a few crucial words – like names and businesses, so the next researcher will find the topic more easily.

You may have to use your ingenuity to find things. For example, I had poor results with words like house, home, and residence, but suddenly hit the jackpot with “dwelling.” Because the characters don’t always read correctly, you may have to try other ways of sneaking around your subject, like a street name (e.g. Thirty-second – they spelled the numbers out in the early days). A person’s name is a good search tool, but you may have to try first, last, or initials. 

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