Historical African American Newspapers Online

Just like newspapers of all types and sources, many of these African-American newspapers have been digitized and are available for research – some for free, some only available at a library or archive, and some via subscription. And of course, most are still in paper form or microfilm, and have not been digitized, so must be searched offline. See below to find out where non-digitized publications may be found.
I wish to acknowledge the help and counsel of Tim Pinnick of the Afrigeneas website, a site dedicated to African-American genealogy.
The sites below include newspaper publications from a variety of sources.  The others are available via state-based newspaper collections; and the remainder via individual sites, including those of historically African-American colleges and universities.  There also collections only available at libraries. They are sorted by state. 
Please note that I have not always entered the dates that are included in the collections, as I suspect they will change as more items are digitized. Also I suspect that some of these links may change over time – so if there is a dead link – please use your favorite search engine to find their new location.

(Updated June 2021; recently added links are in BOLD)

Free Sites:

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

New Jersey

New York

​North Carolina

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Washington

​West Virginia

Wisconsin

Black Abolitionist Newspapers (clippings)

Subscription and Free Library Sites:

If you have access to a library that has a ProQuest or ReadEx (or any other online newspaper site) subscription, then there may be additional historic newspapers available to you for free. Below is a list of some of those, as well as a summary from newspaper collection websites that require a paid subscription.

Accessible Archives – There are 11 publications in the collection (per their website): The Christian Recorder, The Colored American, Weekly Advocate, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, Freedom’s Journal, The National Era, The North Star, Provincial Freeman, Frederick Douglass Monthly, The Freedmen’s Record, and The Negro Business League Herald.

ProQuest – There are 10 publications in the collection (per their website): Atlanta Daily World, Baltimore Afro-American, Chicago Defender, Cleveland Call and Post, Los Angeles Sentinel, Michigan Chronicle, New York Amsterdam News, Norfolk Journal and Guide, Philadelphia Tribune, and Pittsburgh Courier.

Ancestry.com – According to their website there are over 200 African-American newspapers in their collection.

Newspapers,com – there is no breakdown on their website (that I could find) that divides their collection by topic as opposed to location. But I did check and some of the titles of African-American newspapers are indeed in their collection.

Genealogy Bank – About 270 newspapers from 39 states are available through this subscription site. Here is a link to the GenealogyBank African-American Newspaper Collection.

Newspaper Archive – There is no breakdown (that I could find) of their 6,000 titles that provide information as to what number of African-American newspapers exist in their collection.

Readex – Their website states that they have 350 publications covering over 35 states.

Paper and Microfilm Collections:

If you want to know where non-digitized collections of African-American newspapers may be held, either in paper or in microfilm, follow these instructions:

  • Go to the Chronicling America Newspaper Directory.
  • Under “Ethnicity” in the lower left hand corner of “More Search Options” select “African American”; then press “Search” in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Up will come the list of over 2,000 titles.
  • To find where the titles are held –  select a title; the next screen will display information about the publication; then select the “View complete holdings information” link at the very bottom and the locations of all the institutions that have that publication will be displayed for you.

If you wish more information about newspaper research for genealogy, including access to tutorials and dozens of articles about becoming a proficient researcher as well as lists of links to 1000’s of other free U.S. online newspaper titles, please visit the Newspapers page on this website.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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3 Comments

  1. I am searching for an article about MLK visiting North Philadelphia in mid August 1965. The publication is called Philadelphia Afro American. The date of the article is August 14, 1965. The article says he was joined by George Wood and Cecil Moore, NAACP president.

  2. Ebony, MLK was there in early August 1965 and I found a few articles in other papers about his visit. Maybe because it was a weekly paper, the Philadelphia Afro-American didn’t publish its article until mid-August. I don’t see where it’s been digitized but this link will show you what libraries have it. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045816/holdings/
    Perhaps you could request microfilm through interlibrary loan?
    Good luck!

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