It all started when I decided to begin writing list articles for online websites. I loved the style of writing because it allowed me to get my ideas across without having the reader go through large blocks of text.
The only problem was that, on my own, I was coming up with ideas that were already covered on nearly all the popular websites. I needed fresh ideas from online sources that I could cite in my articles.
I already knew about copyright expired online books, but searching through and citing an entire book was not feasible. I needed a more defined source to reference. A bit of searching brought me to the Library of Congress’s website covering American historical newspapers. Over 2,000 newspapers are available online for free, from 1789 to 1922. The sources are copyright expired and the database is searchable.
After finding this invaluable resource, I was able to search for unique subjects and events that have long been forgotten by the public. Reading through old newspapers was a refresher course in history. I could read all the news leading up to World War I and I could read up on all the infamous murder cases from long ago, as they were being uncovered. I had to learn the original names of diseases. For example, polio was originally referred to as infant paralysis. I also had to prepare myself for some shocking views of the times, such as doctors claiming that rabies was a mental disorder and not a deadly viral infection. Each time I chose a topic to research, I would learn something new. If it fascinated me, I knew it would fascinate the editors I was writing for.
Sometimes I would pick an unusual word or phrase to research through the archives, such as eugenics or chewing gum, and I would find articles on the views of the time or the latest trends. This led me to write articles on the viewpoints of eugenics in the early 1900s and another article on the chewing gum trends of the early 1900s. Both of these articles were accepted for publication.
For articles on more recent events, I go to the National Library of Australia’s newspaper archive. This free archive carries newspapers and gazettes from 1896 all the way up to 2007. They cover events that happened all across the world, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.
When searching through more recent news, I like to find topics that fascinated me while I was growing up or topics my parents used to discuss. I can read up on the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, gasoline shortages, and even UFO sightings. If I need more recent information, I will search through Google News. This resource, along with the information I pull from older newspaper articles, lets me pull a topic through the past and into the present, providing outdated facts alongside modern discoveries.
Just about every subject imaginable is covered in these online news sources, from dinosaur sightings and strange lights in the sky to old recipes and crafts. They are archives of unlimited ideas that help give writers a chance to cover unique topics for list publishing websites.
Elizabeth Yetter is a full-time freelance content writer. She spends most of her time either searching for article ideas online or visiting historical places across the U.S.