While I am not opposed to paying for a service that gets me the records I need, I am also all for saving some bucks when I can. And the good news is, there are a whole host of free newspaper sites available for genealogists. Most of the free sites tend to be state-based newspaper projects hosted by a state archive, library, historical society, university, or some other interested state entity. There is also the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America which holds digitized newspapers and a directory of newspapers from all over the United States. So here is a list of some of my favorite, free, sites for finding or accessing newspapers online.
Directories and Lists of Newspapers:
My Favorite Digitized Newspaper Sites (this is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s just a few of the sites I’ve used frequently and have found quite useful):
And I recently had the chance to do some research in New Zealand (online of course) and found this fantastic digitized newspaper site, Papers Past, that helped me find many answers and clues for the project I was working on.
Like I said, this is not an exhaustive list. When I find myself in a new area, I usually head over to one or more of the list sites mentioned first to find out what is available for that place in what time frames. There are so many small projects out there, small public libraries, universities small and large, museums, genealogical and historical societies, and so on that are digitizing their own collections as well. Be sure to do some looking around. You will be surprised by what you find!
This week, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite newspaper resources and websites. There are free and commercial sites. I’m not going to say I prefer one commercial site over another, because the truth is, the one YOU should subscribe to is the one that has newspapers that cover areas you are researching. If you do a lot of research, you might need more than one subscription. Check with your local public library to see if you can access any newspaper sites using your library card.
- Newspapers.com, with Publishers Extra. I see a lot of people complain about getting a hint from Ancestry that there is an obituary but when they click on it, “they” just want you to buy another subscription. Well, yes, Ancestry and Newspapers.com are businesses, so of course they are marketing and trying to find ways to get more subscriptions. That’s the nature of business. BUT, the Publishers Extra subscription is full of newspapers that are still under copyright, so they have had to pay for extra licensing to be able to put those digitized newspapers online. So, yes, there is more cost involved. Let me tell you, I use it ALL THE TIME. If you don’t use it because you are not researching in more modern newspapers, then you don’t need to subscribe, but I love it.
- GenealogyBank. There is not a lot of overlap between GenealogyBank and Newspapers.com. Often if I can’t find it on one site, I can find it on the other.
- NewspaperArchive. Same as above. I don’t find a lot of overlap between the sites.
Each of the “big three” commercial sites for newspapers have their pros and cons. I find some of their filters, search functions, and image viewers to be better than others. But for the value of being able to view so many newspapers from the comfort of my own home, I am more than willing to put up with a little bit of frustration. Each of these sites allow you to view their titles and year ranges before you subscribe, so be sure to do that. Do not subscribe and then complain that they don’t have what you need. Be sure to check first.
Next week I will share my favorite non-commercial FREE websites for finding newspapers. There are some great resources out there!
We moved to Texas about three and a half years ago now…my how time flies! Through learning the library systems in the state, which are very different to how they worked in Colorado, I discovered that as a Texas state resident, I am allowed a FREE library card to the Texas State Library, and in particular to their online digital collections! This means that I can access HeinOnline and other useful databases for FREE!
HeinOnline is quite expensive but so useful when doing any law research as it relates to your ancestors, which you should be doing! I also discovered on the Texas State Law Library website that all of the historical Texas statutes are nicely listed and available to anyone (library card or not).
If you live in Texas and would like to get your library card, it can be done online. Click here for instructions. If you live outside of Texas, ask your local librarian or do some online searching to see what offerings are available in your state. There are valuable resources available. Be sure not to miss them!