History from ProQuest

ProQuest did a very interesting session today (complete with coffee, tea and food!) on their new digital historical products. Historical Annual Reports covers 800 companies, most of them Fortune 500, for the past 160 years. For example, there’s 107 years of Nabisco annual reports. Trivia question: When did the Fortune 500 start? I’ll take guesses in the comments section. ProQuest employees are not allowed to participate cuz they already know the answer! They’ve built in lots of search functionality, letting you search on specific fields, including such abstruse ones as auditor and brand name. It also shows related companies and lets you build a company tree.

Historical Newspapers has the full run of page and article images from the Wall Street Journal (which has the largest paid circulation in the U.S.), New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science monitor, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Times, Boston Globe, and Hartford Courant. American Periodical Series has 1,100 titles dating from 1740 to 1940. And what was being published in the 1740s? Well, Ben Franklin was publishing his General Magazine and Andrew Bradford’s magazine was called American Magazine.

These are all primary source materials, OCR’d, and full text searchable. You can cross search across the three collections. It’s interesting to look at companies from decades ago and realize that some of the ethical issues in the news today had forerunners. Take Gillette, for example, which underwent patent litigation, bought the company suing them for patent infringement, and then were sued by shareholders who thought Gillette paid too much to buy its competition.

ProQuest also let slip that it will launch an obituary database, sourced from the newspaper files, with name disambiguation, at ALA in July.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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