At the library we often have patrons coming in looking for a local newspaper article from many years ago. Frequently people are looking for an article about a member of their family, such as parents or grandparents. Some articles are easier to find than others. If they are looking for an obituary it is usually quite easy, because we have indexes to obituaries published in the Holland Sentinel from 1912 through 2021. We also have indexes of the Holland City News from 1872-1909 for births, deaths, marriages, and obituaries. Also, if they have the exact date it is usually quite simple, because we can just to go to the correct paper on microfilm. It gets a bit harder when it is not an obituary and they don’t know the date. A patron might say they are looking for an article published sometime in the spring of 1954, or sometimes it is even a longer time frame. Questions like this are a little bit trickier.
Fortunately, we have a couple of ways to look for articles. While there is not a complete index of all of the articles in the Holland Sentinel and the Holland City News, there is a partial index which was done by a local historian who worked at the library. His name was Donald Van Reken, so it is appropriately called the Van Reken Index. It is available in book form in ten year increments in the genealogy area, and it is also available online. This index covers the years 1880-1990, but Mr. Van Reken indexed more of the earlier years than the later ones. Also, not everything in the newspapers was indexed, so there is no guarantee that you will find the article you want. Unfortunately, from 1990-1996 there is no index, except for obituaries. The Holland Sentinel began indexing articles in 1997 and this index can be found on their website. You can put in a search term and limit the dates, and if you find what you are searching for you can either order the article through the Holland Sentinel with a credit card, or write down the date and come to the library to look at the article on microfilm. Additionally, the staff at Herrick District Library has compiled a printed index of both people and subjects for the years 2002-2007, so if your article happens to be in that time frame you can check the Herrick District Library Index to the Holland Sentinel and then use the microfilm. The index is located in the genealogy area. The library charges 15 cents per page for copies of newspaper articles.
We have both the Holland City News 1872-1977 and the Holland Sentinel 1912-present on microfilm at the library, and the Holland City News is now also available online, so if your article happens to be in the Holland City News you are able to view it at home with internet access. Another newspaper that has been partially indexed by Donald Van Reken is the Ottawa County Times, which is available on microfilm and online. This was a weekly Democratic paper published in Holland, Michigan from 1892-1905.
So, if you are looking for a newspaper article from the Holland City News, Holland Sentinel, or the Ottawa County Times and have not had any luck finding it, let us know, or try the options listed above. We offer no guarantees, but we will try to help!