Associated Press has quietly launched a beta of the AP News Archive, a free searchable database of AP news stories that goes back as far as 1974. The archive comprises at least 1.5 million articles at present, based on the approximate number of results returned in a Google search of the domain apnewsarchive.com.

The AP touts the archive as being more accurate than that dodgy, not-to-be-trusted Internet:

If you've tried to do historical research online, you know that there's a lot of misinformation floating around the Internet. It can be time-consuming, to say the least, to comb through dozens of sites and search results to find the information you're looking for.

Imagine that instead, you could find accurate, reliable historical information quickly and easily, all on one site, and all up to the highest standards of journalism.

Though the archive stretches back decades, I had trouble finding subjects I'd expect to be there -- such as the Drudge Retort's fair use copyright dispute with AP five years ago. I'm not in the database at all, which hurts.

I did find a few stories that my wife Mary Moewe or I covered while we were Fort Worth Star-Telegram stringers going to the University of North Texas in Denton from 1988 to 1991:

A story I was hoping to find was one that Mary broke about a youth soccer player from Lewisville, Texas. The girl was so good in a playoff game that two dads from the opposing team demanded that referees conduct a "panty check" to confirm that she wasn't a boy. (Thankfully, this did not happen.)

The story, which went all over the planet, turns up on the Baltimore Sun. Mary got great quotes from the 10-year-old girl:

Natasha Dennis, a 4-foot-5-inch fourth-grader with short brown hair, admits to being boyish. "I hate dresses," she said.

Still, Natasha, who has changed her hairstyle, said she did not appreciate the men's accusations.

"I think they should go somewhere and check and see if they have anything between their ears," she said.

-- Rogers Cadenhead