Our newspaper archives contain issues from Dakota Territory as early as 1864 and many from 1872 to the present. The North Dakota Newspaper Law of 1905 required official newspapers to provide two copies to the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Newspaper titles may be searched using ODIN (Online Dakota Information Network) or they may be found by clicking on the links below. The State Historical Society of North Dakota also has a small collection of newspapers from Minnesota and South Dakota which document aspects of North Dakota history. Frontier Scout, the first newspaper published in northern Dakota Territory, is available online.
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded a grant to the State Historical Society of North Dakota to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). The project, which runs from 2011-2013, funds digitization of 100,000 pages of newspapers from microfilm. The Library of Congress will make these newspapers available on its Chronicling America website. The titles selected are:
Bismarck Tribune - 1873-1875; 1878-1884; 1916-1922
Bismarck Weekly Tribune - 1875-1878; 1884-1900
Bismarck Tri-Weekly Tribune - 1877-1878
Bismarck Daily Tribune - 1900-1916
Jamestown Weekly Alert - 1882-1904
Ward County Independent (Minot) - 1903-1921
Weekly Times Record (Valley City) 1912-1922
Williston Graphic - 1895-1898; 1902-1919
In 1905, the Legislative Assembly enacted the North Dakota Newspaper Law, requiring official newspapers to send copies of every issue to the State Historical Society of North Dakota. In addition, the agency has attempted to collect as many earlier extant North Dakota newspapers as possible. This compilation of newspapers spans the period from early territorial days to the present.
Newspapers contain a great deal of information for the genealogist and the historical researcher. For genealogists, newspapers may include birth and marriage announcements and death notices and obituaries. Individual newspapers provide information concerning local events throughout the ancestor's lifetime, and state and national events that were instrumental in shaping lives.
Newspaper editorials permit the historical researcher to uncover the dynamics of an area. Information concerning the social and cultural history, economics, politics, and individualism of members of the community can be found. City and county commission minutes and other official records were printed in the newspaper. Advertisements provide information concerning businesses that were a part of the community. Biases in reporting and information in articles on historic events also can supply attitudes, etc.
Publishing History in North Dakota
The first newspaper known to have been published in northern Dakota Territory was the Frontier Scout issued at Fort Union on July 7, 1864. Nine years later, The Bismarck Tribune published its trial run on July 6, 1873. This was soon followed by the Fargo Express, The Grand Forks Plaindealer, and The Jamestown Alert. Within a period of ten years, 160 newspapers were distributed throughout Dakota Territory, and by 1910, more than 344 newspapers documented the hopes, dreams, and events of the developing state. The Brinton Newspaper Law of 1919 limited the number of newspapers publishing official notices. As a result, many newspapers were unable to survive on local community advertising. Other factors also entered into the demise of publications, and more than 200 newspapers ceased to circulate within a five-year period. Presently, fewer than 100 newspapers are published in North Dakota.
Looking for newspapers in other states? Check out United States Newspaper Program participants: National Endowment for the Humanities U.S. Newspaper Program
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Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
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