How Do I Find My Picture in an Old Newspaper?

1948 July Scott Brady, and newspaper front page about prison break

Scott Brady, and newspaper front page about prison break
“My picture was in the paper when I was a kid and I’d like to get a copy of it; is that something I can do here?”
We get asked this question here in the Western History and Genealogy Department, and the good new is yes, we can usually help you find pictures that appeared in Denver newspapers. Here are a some tips to help with your search: 
Getting Started
If you’re looking for a picture that appeared in the paper during your childhood in Denver, you’re probably going to want to focus your search on the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. WHG has a complete run of both papers on microfilm and microfilm readers to view them on.
Keep in mind that microfilm copies are not like digital copies and the quality of the film can vary greatly. While you can make a printed copy, or save a digital copy of an older newspaper, these are not archival quality reprints.
WHG has a smattering of other local and regional papers, but our main focus is the Denver-Metro area. If you’re looking for small town Colorado newspapers, you might want to give our friends at History Colorado a visit. They have a large collection of Colorado newspapers that greatly fills in the gaps in DPL’s collection. (Their research hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.).
I Can’t Remember What Day it Ran
Here’s a problem our customers run into all the time. They had a clipping of the article or picture they wanted but not the date, so they don’t know when it appeared in the paper. This can be addressed using our Western History Subject Index. 
The Western History Subject Index began as a Works Project Administration (WPA) project to index names and various topics in the early issues of the Rocky Mountain News. Once that project wrapped up, DPL volunteers carried on the task until the mid-1990s. While the Subject Index isn’t all comprehensive, it’s very thorough and can frequently be a big help. The Western History Subject Index is available for online searching. 
We also have a Denver Post Index that covers 1979-2010 and an index of Westword Table of Contents that covers 1977-2000. Denver Public Library also offers a database that covers the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News from 1989 to the present (for the Post) and 1989-2009 for the Rocky Mountain News. The catch here is that these are text-only databases. So while they’re useful for tracking down when and where an article may have appeared, you’ll still need to come by the 5th Floor of the Central Library to pull the pictures off of the microfilm. (If you live out of state and you’ve found the date and page you’re looking for, send us a message using our Contact Form. Please know that due to the volume of research inquiries we receive, it normally takes two to three weeks to fulfill these requests.)
A Word About Memories
We’d like to offer a gentle word of caution about memories and their overall accuracy. Oftentimes, our customers will come in with the certainty that their picture was on the front page of the newspaper and that simply looking at the front pages from the period they think they were featured will be enough to reconnect them with their past glories. 
Time has a way of distorting memories and that’s often when it comes to remembering where, exactly, your picture appeared in the paper. Even if you’re really certain that you were on the front page, it’s always worth spending some time using these resources to help you make the most of your time at the Western History Department. 
Whether you’re looking for a picture or an article that ran in a Denver newspaper anytime between 1859 and the present, there’s a really good chance we’ll be able to point you in the right direction. That said, please know that sometimes, even an exhaustive search can fail to turn up a long-lost memory. 

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