Using Newspapers: When They Aren’t Online, What Do I Do?!?

What do you do when the newspapers you need are not online? Normally, I’d encourage you to take a trip to the local public library or archive that holds microfilm of those newspapers. However, there are other ways to get access to far-off newspapers.

  1. Ask a librarian. Often, local public libraries will do quick look-ups for you. So if you know the date that an event occurred, reach out to the public library and ask if they can send you a scan or copy of the page.
  2. Ask a local genealogical society. Some libraries are too busy or don’t offer look-up services. If that is the case, see if there is a local genealogical or historical society that does.
  3. Ask a volunteer. There are sites to find genealogical volunteers such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (raogk.org)
  4. Message Boards. These still exist! At Ancestry, look under the “Help” tab at the top and you will find Message Boards. (www.ancestry.com/boards/)
  5. Inter-library loan. Some repositories allow their microfilmed newspapers to be used via interlibrary loan. See if that option is available for your project.
  6. Hire a researcher. If you need someone to skim several weeks or months for a particular article, hiring a professional is worth it. And it will be cheaper than traveling. Use a directory such as that from BCG (bcgcertification.org) or APG (www.apgen.org) to find a qualified researcher.
  7. Take a trip. Of course, when we can travel and visit repositories again, this is the most fun option. But even then, it is not always the most efficient or cost-effective.
My daughter on a research trip with me a million years ago.

Do not think that just because the newspaper you need is not digitized and available online, that it is not accessible. It just takes more work. The above methods generally get me what I need. The biggest problem is that I have to practice patience!

3 thoughts on “Using Newspapers: When They Aren’t Online, What Do I Do?!?

  1. I have had success contacting both libraries and historical societies…sometimes there’s a cost involved, and sometimes not. It’s definitely worth asking, especially right now while travel isn’t possible.

  2. Our historical society archives has the local newspapers microfilm. We then went to the expense to transfer by issue to microfiche to make them easier to locate specific dates. Later we expanded to digital, but have NOT put them on line. We offer look ups for a nominal fee, but often people do not want to pay for a look up. We have over $10,000 invested in the preservation and need to charge in order to continue other preservation projects.

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