Chess History Research On-Line

Edward Winter

C.N. 7615 invited readers to suggest ‘the best websites at which old chess magazines and newspaper columns can be consulted’. The present article will offer a compilation of suggestions received, and we begin with a contribution from John Hilbert (Amherst, NY, USA):

‘I know of no richer site than Nick Pope’s Chess Archaeology, with his legion of newspaper columns at the Jack O’Keefe Project:

Google Books, Advanced Book Search: This site allows searching for downloadable books (it is important to click on the “full books only” button, so that only free volumes are listed) through title, author, keyword, etc. I use PDF format texts, downloaded to my computer after I have found useful information. It is useable with Adobe Reader. Recently, for instance, I have had reason to trace multiple American Civil War memoirs, as well as New York City public education records from the 1850s. One can also amass a good selection of early issues of the BCM (25 of the first 27 annual volumes, starting with 1882) the Dubuque Chess Journal from the 1870s and a few later (ten or so years) multiple volumes of the Westminster Papers, etc. The “more editions” feature should be used. [For copyright reasons some parts of the Google Books collection are not available in certain countries.]

Old Fulton New York Postcards: The site claims to have over 18 million pages from old New York newspapers. Of particular interest to me is that it includes the Brooklyn Daily Eagle long past the 1902 cut-off point at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle online site ( Unfortunately, at least so far, I have found no way of easily searching and sorting the mass of hits that result from so many searches. The latter site is much easier to use to focus searches, but, of course, covers only the one newspaper and only through 1902. The Fulton site certainly gives a lifetime of material to contemplate, although how easy it is to manage, let alone rely on, is questionable. A search for“Pillsbury” and “chess”, for instance, resulted in over 4,000 hits, the first from an issue of the 1895 Eagle, the second from a Syracuse, NY newspaper, and the third from the Eagle for 1931. This third hit included chess (a Helms column featuring Capablanca) but seemed to have nothing on Pillsbury.

[In C.N. 8688 Larry Crawford (Milford, CT, USA) pointed out that the above-mentioned on-line archive for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle was being replaced by a new site with the full run of the newspaper, i.e. from 1841 to 1955.]

A related website, at least in terms of newspaper coverage, is Northern New York Historical Newspapers: Many, if not most or all, of these may appear in the Fulton site above, but it is a more manageable site for research.

Library of Congress, Chronicling America (Historic American Newspapers): Hundreds of newspapers from 1836 to 1922.’

From Graham Clayton (South Windsor, NSW, Australia):

The National Library of Australia Newspaper Archive: The site allows users to correct an electronically generated version of the article, which can then be exported in a variety of formats. These corrected articles can also have comments and search tags added.

Past Papers (National Library of New Zealand):’

Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) writes:

‘Some subscription-based databases are useful. at is a rich resource. In addition to other digitized documentation, among its 320 years of nearly 5,900 fully-searchable newspapers from all over the United States, a couple of important chess columns are available: the New York Herald (New York), New York Ledger (New York), Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), St Louis Republic (Missouri), and Times-Picayune (Louisiana). Also available are some little explored columns outside the traditional US chess centres: the Anaconda Standard (Montana), Dallas Morning News (Texas), Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota), Jackson Citizen Patriot (Michigan), Macon Weekly Telegraph (Georgia), Minneapolis Journal (Minnesota), Plain Dealer (Ohio), Providence Evening Press (Rhode Island), Sioux City Journal (Iowa), Sun (Maryland), and several others. A complete list of newspapers available can be consulted at A monthly subscription of $20 allows access to all these publications and many more.

Other US newspapers chess columns are available via ProQuest Historical Newspapers at http://www. (the New York Times, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant, New York Tribune, Washington Post, etc.), but this subscription-based database is available only through a third party (e.g. an institution such as a university library or community library).

Another extremely useful subscription-based database is the British Newspaper Archive at http: (in partnership with the British Library), with thousands of pages added every day to the total of 5,000,000 currently available. As is the case with the above-mentioned database, this growing collection, covering newspapers published in the United Kingdom from 1800 to 1949, can be searched by keyword, name, location, date or title. Several important London-based chess columns are available (Era, Morning Post, Standard, Western Times, Daily News, etc.), but some provincial ones may also prove of much interest. For example, the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, Belfast News-Letter, Birmingham Journal, Bradford Observer, Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, Derby Mercury, Edinburgh Evening News, Evening Telegraph, Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Falkirk Herald, Glasgow Herald, Liverpool Mercury, Manchester Evening News, Nottinghamshire Guardian, and Sheffield Independent. For those interested in UK-based research, easy access to provincial chess columns in all parts of the country is provided. A 12-month subscription with full access costs £80.

It is worth noting that through a free trial or an associated library subscription, it is possible via Gale Digital Collections at to have full access to the complete runs of chess columns in the Illustrated London News, Times Literary Supplement and London Times, as well as some other nineteenth-century newspapers published in the United Kingdom.

All search and managing functions in the above databases are excellent. The material is professionally organized, allowing various saving options and advanced searching. Searches are narrowed down very efficiently.’

Michael McDowell (Westcliff-on-sea, England) has found that the New York Clipper can be viewed on-line, using the site’s ‘Browse Archive’ function. He comments that the chess column was usually published on page 6 of the Saturday edition and that there were also occasional chess features elsewhere.

Morphy’s only authenticated problem, composed some seven years previously, is on page 78 of the 28 June 1856 edition. (For further information, see pages 18-19 of David Lawson’s biography of Morphy.)


From Patsy A. D’Eramo (North East, MD, USA):

‘C.N. 7615 invited readers to suggest the best websites at which old chess magazines and newspaper columns can be consulted. One such subscription database is, and I have clipped some 12,000 chess columns and articles from that site. A rudimentary index of links to most of those articles appears on my personal website, D’Eramo Chess Project.’


On 2 June 2023 Mr D’Eramo informed us that his project was no longer available on-line.

Latest update: 2 June 2023.

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Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.