How to search old Hong Kong newspapers for a certain word within a range of dates
Q. Jill asks how we could search for, say, any references to John Smith in the newspapers between 1894 and 1899? - i.e. looking for a name within a five year period (or more) pre-1900.
A. I don't know a way to just show exactly those results, but I can suggest a couple of techniques that will help make searching quicker.
A1. Try the simple search first
- Start with the simple search screen at https://mmis.hkpl.gov.hk/web/guest/old-hk-collection
- Type the words you're searching for - John Smith - into the "Enter Keyword" box and click the "Search" button.
- It shows 185 results, which will take quite a while to search through. But on the left of the screen under "Refine Search", scroll down til you see "PUBLISHING YEAR". Click on the text "Before 1900", and the screen updates to show just the 19 results that are from the 1800s. Then I'd look through the 19 results to see which are from the years I'm interested in, and need a closer look. (I'd also sort the results by date order, which will let me find the years I'm interested in more quickly. Look at the video at https://gwulo.com/node/36666 from 0:58 to see how to do that.)
If you're searching for some popular text, so that after trying the simple search above you're shown hundreds of matches, it's worth using the advanced search:
A2: Use the advanced search
We'll break the search down into 6 separate searches, one for 1894, one for 1895, etc. So how do we search for newsapers from 1894 that have the text John Smith?
- Start at the advanced search page: https://mmis.hkpl.gov.hk/web/guest/advanced-search
- We'll use two lines in the "Criteria" section:
- Title has all these words: 1894
- Any has all these words: John Smith
- Then click "Search"
- It returns one result. Quickly check that, then repeat these steps for 1895, 1896, etc.