How to download bulk newspaper articles from Papers Past

Anyone interested in New Zealand history should already know about the amazing Papers Past website provided by the National Library of New Zealand, where you can read search and browse millions of historical newspaper articles and advertisements from New Zealand.

You may also know about Digital New Zealand, which provides a central point for access to New Zealand’s digital culture.

This post is about using Digital NZ and Papers Past to get access, in bulk, to newspaper articles, in a form which is then open to being “crunched” with sophisticated “data mining” software, able to automatically discover patterns in the articles. In my earlier post How to download bulk newspaper articles from Trove, I wrote:

Some researchers want to go beyond merely using computers to help them find newspaper articles to read (what librarians call “resource discovery”); researchers also want to use computers to help them read those articles.

To use that kind of “data mining” software, you first need to have direct access to your data, and that can mean having to download thousands and thousands of articles. It’s not at all obvious how to do that, but in fact it can be made quite easy, as I will show.

First, though, a brisk stroll down memory lane…

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