Google News Archive = Typographic Inspiration

While starting any new design project I try to balance academic research with a strict adherence to Edward DeBono’s procedure of random stimulation. I used to sit with the huge 1912 American Type Founders Specimen book in front of my computer and slowly leaf through, imagining my project in many styles.

While I’ve used many physical books to generate ideas, the internet has often failed me for this type of random image inspiration. Either I move too fast through its images, unable to linger on specifics, or I stay too close to what I already know, a network of blogs showing me basically the same style of design and art.

Recently, however, I’ve stumbled upon Google News Archive, a modern microfiche of daily newspapers that allows us to see, in full size, a range of typographic styles from around 1890 to today. While the big papers remain pay-per-view, we are left to scour the smaller sources like The Montreal Gazette, The Sydney Morning Herald, St. Petersburg Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for ads, strange periodicals, headlines and most importantly beautiful typography. Below are some screenshots from my collection, colorized for your enjoyment.

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  1. What would you have to search to view all the newspapers and periodicals? By their names I’m guessing, but how do I know what papers and periodicals to search for? Is there a general search term that you use to access these fabulous typography samples?

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