History and methodology behind LATHROP REPORT ON NEWSPAPER INDEXES.
Acquiring the details of U.S. and Canadian newspaper indexes for inclusion in an illustrated bibliography, eventually named the LATHROP REPORT ON NEWSPAPER INDEXES, was conceived in November 1969 when Norman Lathrop Enterprises (Mary Lou and Norman Lathrop) established the Newspaper Indexing Center in Flint, Michigan. However, it was not until January 1977 that a systematic search for detailed information was begun.
From Norman Lathrop Enterprise files were gathered the names and addresses of organizations believed to have a newspaper index. In addition, the following books and magazine articles provided leads to organizations and individuals which allegedly had one or more newspaper indexes. Each of these were checked against our own files, and if it was a new lead, it was added to our mailing list.
BRAYER: Herbert O. Brayer. "Preliminary Guide to Indexed Newspapers in the United States, 1850-1900". Mississippi Valley Historical Review, v.33, #2, Sept 2 1946. (NOTE: See Lathrop Report #1046D for a historical note on how the Brayer article came to be written).
FLORIDA: "Indexes of Florida Newspapers". Florida Libraries, v.20, p 87, June 1969.
FRIEDMAN: Harry A. Friedman. NEWSPAPER INDEXING. Marquette University Press, Milwaukee WI, 1942.
GRIFFIN (CO): Walter R. Griffin & Jay L. Rasmussen. "A Comprehensive Guide to the Location of Published and unpublished Newspaper Indexes in Colorado Repositories". Colorado Magazine, v.49, p 4, Fall 1972.
GRIFFIN (NC): Walter R. Griffin & Jay L. Rasmussen. "Comprehensive Guide to the Location of Published and Unpublished Newspaper Indexes in North Carolina Repositories". North Carolina Libraries, v.32, p 11, Fall 1974.
GWINUP: T. Gwinup et al. "Survey of Local Newspapers in California". California Librarian, v.36, p 4, Jan 1975.
IRELAND: Norma Olin Ireland. LOCAL INDEXES IN AMERICAN LIBRARIES. Faxon, Boston MA, 1947.
MATTISON: Les Mattison. NEWSPAPER INDEXING IN MINNESOTA; A FEASIBILITY STUDY COMMISSIONED BY THE PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE OF THE MINNESOTA LIBRARY ASSOCIATION. Bemidji State College Library, July 1970.
MILNER: Anita Cheek Milner. NEWSPAPER INDEXES: A LOCATION & SUBJECT GUIDE FOR RESEARCHERS. Scarecrow Press, Metuchen NJ, 1977.
OHIO: LOCALLY PREPARED INDEXES IN OHIO LIBRARIES. Ohio Library Association, 1973.
PARCH: Grace D. Parch. DIRECTORY OF NEWSPAPER LIBRARIES IN THE U.S. AND CANADA. Newspaper Division, Special Libraries Association, 1976.
RICE: Dorothy Rice & others. "The need for indexing Nevada's newspapers" (etc.) A special issue on newspaper indexing in Nevada. Highroller, v.15 #1, January 1978.
SCORZA: Joseph C. Scorza. NEWSPAPER INDEXING IN NEW JERSEY: SUMMARY RESULTS OF A SURVEY OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES. Reference Section, New Jersey Library Association, New Brunswick NJ, October 1975.
STEWART: R.W. Stewart. "Notes on some New Jersey newspaper indexes". N.J. Libraries (new series), v.1, p 5, Winter 1968.
From the beginning of the project, it was our editorial policy that the mention of a newspaper index in another bibliography or directory would not be sufficient evidence to report the existence of an index in LATHROP REPORT ON NEWSPAPER INDEXES. The organization cited as having the index needed to supply all necessary information directly to Norman Lathrop Enterprises. It was from this direct information that the detailed reports of newspaper indexes were prepared. By requiring information and verification directly from each index owner, the compilers were able to respect the intellectual efforts of other bibliographers and protect our own copyrights.
To each institution identified as having a newspaper index we sent a request for details. The request consisted of a cover letter, list of alleged indexes, an example page from our proposed book, and a questionnaire to be completed. Click on the following links to view these forms:
Form 1: Letter requesting details of a newspaper index believed to exist.
Form 2: Listing of newspapers believed to be indexed.
Form 2A: Example page (side 1).
Form 2B: Example page (side 2).
Form 3: Questionnaire (side 1).
Form 4: Questionnaire (side 2).
Several months after this first inquiry, a "Second Request" was sent to anyone who had not responded
Form 5: Followup letter.
Letters of inquiry were also sent to every state and provincial librarian requesting leads to known newspaper indexes within their state. Every new lead from these librarians was mailed a request for information about their newspaper indexes.
In many cases Norman Lathrop Enterprises already had extensive proof from our own files that a newspaper index actually did exist. In those cases, we would fill in as much of the questionnaire as possible, and send it to the appropriate organization for correction and completion. A different cover letter was used for this type of inquiry.
Form 6: Confirmation request letter.
Generally, the response to our requests were very good even though we did not provide a return envelope nor did we pay for return postage. In some cases we knew that libraries were getting tired of filling out questionnaires about their holdings, but they usually supplied enough information in the form of introductions or title pages to enable us to complete the questionnaire. One organization refused to participate unless we paid the return postage and gave them a discount on the book. In honor of the fine cooperation of all of the rest, we declined to accept their demands.
Only two recurring problems were encountered in our method:
- Many did not send representative examples of the index along with the questionnaire. Perhaps the unique concept of using illustrations to accompany a bibliography was not clearly understood. In those cases, a note from us requesting samples almost always brought a prompt response.
- Some did not indicate the name of the person who filled in the questionnaire. This simply made it awkward to do followup communication in case of a question.
The 1979-1980 edition of LATHROP REPORT ON NEWSPAPER INDEXES featured three sections.
The 1000 Section (CONFIRMED NEWSPAPER INDEXES) contains detailed descriptions of known newspaper indexes. Each different compiler, publisher or repository was given a unique 4-digit number and all of the verified indexes linked to the same source were filed together. Letters were placed after each number to identify different indexes.
The 8000 Section (UNCONFIRMED NEWSPAPER INDEXES) contains an address and a corresponding list of newspapers and/or newspaper indexes that were alleged to exist based on a bibliography or lead (see note). Each of these were sent one or more requests for verification, but in most cases nothing was forthcoming.
The 9000 Section (CORRECTIONS FOR THE RECORD) highlights those institutions who reported being erroneously cited in a bibliography or lead as having a newspaper index (see note).
Note: The 8000 and 9000 Section usually features a name in parenthesis (xxxx) at the end of each newspaper line. These names correspond to a specific book or magazine article listed in the bibliography near the top of this page.
When Norman Lathrop Enterprises published the 1979-1980 edition of LATHROP REPORT ON NEWSPAPER INDEXES, we fully intended to update the report every two years. In 1981 we sent a request for additions or corrections to every institution which was listed in the original report.
Form 7: Update request cover letter.
Form 8: Notice for institutions in the 8000 or 9000 section.
However, an updated edition of LATHROP REPORT ON NEWSPAPER INDEXES was never published. The 1979-1980 edition simply did not reach a wide-enough library market to make it worth the effort to compile and publish an update.
Norman Lathrop Enterprises continued to compile and publish their own annual Index To How To Do It Information (1963-1999) and was contracted to produce the index to the St.Paul Pioneer Press newspaper (1981-1996) and the Current Digest of the Soviet and Post-Soviet Press (1984-present).
As part of their retirement, Norman and Mary Lou Lathrop are making all of the Index To How To Do It Information and the 1979-1980 edition of Lathrop Report On Newspaper Indexes freely available on their website www.nleindex.com.