Stanford gains access to centuries of French periodicals with RetroNews

June 7, 2021
Sarah B Sussman

 New database alert! Stanford Libraries has just started a subscription to, a full text database of the French periodical press. It covers the time period 1631-1950, with contents spanning from the first French newspaper, La Gazette, through World War II and the beginning of the Fourth Republic. 

This resource contains primary source materials of interest not only to scholars and students of French history and literature, but also to researchers in the fields of political science, art and art history, musicology, African, Middle East, and Southeast Asian studies, European history, the history of science and technology, and media studies. Currently the platform, as well as the content, is only in French.  

RetroNews contains over 1400 individual titles, ranging from daily national, regional, and local newspapers, to specialized periodicals focused on political, cultural, scientific, cultural, and religious perspectives. The satirical and pictorial press is included, as are extensive holdings from France’s colonial empire. The long timespan and variety of perspectives contained in RetroNews means that users may encounter difficult, offensive, and violent ideas, images, and descriptions. Put in context, these materials are valuable sources for research that can be used to investigate the ways that ideas and representations have changed over time. 

While these titles are all in Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF), RetroNews offers a better interface with enhanced search, display, and save functions, as well as thematic essays, podcasts, and videos which showcase the diverse primary source content that the press offers, and demonstrate ways to incorporate this resource into research and teaching. 

Additional functions offered by RetroNews include easy filtering of search hits by date, historical period, title and type of press, including the ability to analyse the frequency of up to five different terms. Useful tutorials explain how to use the site to its full extent. To take advantage of the full range of functions, users need to create a personal account.

Access instructions: 

To log in, click “se connecter” at the top, first scroll down to “Se connecter avec son institution” and select Stanford University from the list. Users should next create a personal account to gain full access to this resource, including its advanced search functionalities and the ability to bookmarks, annotations, and save search results. 

Create your permanent personal account using the “s’abonner” link. In the future, you will first select Stanford University as your institution, and then use “se connecter” to log in with your personal account.