Good news for history teachers: NY Times drops fees

The New York Times announced it will stop charging for access to much of its archives, from 1987 to the present, and from the paper’s inception through 1922.

Other articles from 1922 to 1987 will be available for a reduced fee, or free.

Access opens to much of the archived material at midnight tonight, September 18, 2007 (probably Eastern Time).

History, economics and science teachers especially now can get news stories of key events that were previously difficult to find and often expensive. Now-free periods of history include the periods covering the Spanish-American War, the entire administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, World War I, the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the current administration, the end of the Cold War, nullification and destruction of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany, breakup of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, and much more.

Still behind a proprietary shield will be World War II, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the rise of the Cold War, the Korean War, the development of atomic bombs and nuclear reactors, the discovery of the structure of DNA, the trial of John Scopes, the trial of the Rosenbergs, the McCarthy era, and the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

The Times said the policy change makes sense because of links from other internet sources that drive people to the Times’ site. The newspaper can make more money from advertising to those referral clicks than from charging an access fee.

This makes a great deal of high quality information about events in history available to teachers and students. One danger for the light-hearted: It may confuse students about the meaning of “free press.”

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