I have been an historic newspaper research addict for a long time. In the past several years I have decided to ratchet up my interest and share what I have learned through newspaper research-related blog articles, huge link lists, as well as video tutorials.
The link lists for each state in the U.S. can be found at Newspaper Research Links.
What I would like to relate now, however, is my list of what I consider to be the best free sites to find historical articles about your ancestors in U.S. newspapers. These are the first ones that I would use if I were starting out. They have been chosen not because of their interface – because some are better than others and some are not ideal. One of the important criteria, however is that they must be adding to their collection on a regular basis, and they must be sizable. These are presented in no particular order. And remember that these are free sites only and you do not have to go to a library to access them.
- Elephind – over 175 million items (newspaper pages/articles) from 3,500 titles. You can search multiple U.S. collections all at once.
- Chronicling America – over 12.2 million pages from 45 states. Easy interface and growing constantly, although the growth is quite slow.
- Old Fulton NY Post Cards – over 39.3 million pages of New York State and many other states historical newspapers. Rapidly growing and adding lots of non-NY content. Search interface is powerful but needs you to learn it to be successful.
- Advantage Preservation Collections – about 500 collections from 37 states. The latest list can be found at Search 45 Million Historic U.S. Newspaper Pages from Advantage Preservation for Free! New software interface being rolled out which makes it quite easy to use.
- NYS Historic Newspapers – over 7.3 million pages – all from New York. Rapidly growing. Similar user interface to that used by Chronicling America.
- Google News Archive – over 2,500 newspapers – gets an asterisk. You can still get to all of these newspapers, but the search function is pretty much restricted to newspapers since 1970. And although these are the rules, some pre-1970 pages might sneak in. This is really too bad, since this is quite a large collection of otherwise non-digitized smaller newspapers.
For all my articles about newspaper research, just navigate to the Newspapers! page of this web site and browse. And as mentioned previously, the link lists for each state in the U.S. can be found at Newspaper Research Links. There are also 20 special free online collections based on ethnicity and religion that are listed.