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The largest newspaper websites like Newspapers.com and GenealogyBank let you cover a lot of ground in a single search. But even those massive databases might not have publications from your ancestors’ hometowns.
We scoured the ‘net for the best smaller-scale newspaper archives that might just have the publications you’re looking for. The first part of this list inventories headline-worthy collections that aren’t necessarily focused on a place. And the second section includes important state-specific collections—plus a sampling of local ones—that are available for you to search for free.
General Resources for Finding Local Newspapers
This collection includes newspapers from the United States and other countries dating from 1738 to 2009. Click on a title to browse the newspaper.
Note that the search box at the top of the page does not technically keyword-search the archived newspapers; it performs a site: search. Instead, use Google Books Advanced Book Search and select Content > Newspapers.
Learn about more Google’s tools for genealogists.
Search over 300 small-town newspapers, some dating back to the 19th century, for free. As of early 2023, you could search just one newspaper at a time, but the site plans to release a tool to search across all titles.
The company’s ArchiveInABox service works with historical and genealogical societies and publishers to digitize newspapers and other collections, then create searchable online archives from them.
This tool lets you cover multiple newspaper collections at once. It searches more than 4,000 newspaper titles, including papers in the California Digital Newspaper Collection, the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, and Digital Michigan Newspapers. Family Tree Magazine published an Elephind tutorial in 2015.
Advantage Archives, based in Iowa, specializes in converting newspaper microfilm to a searchable digital archive. So far, the company has digitized over 100 million newspaper pages from all over the United States, plus a few from Canada. Many public libraries use the service to digitize their newspapers on microfilm and make them available to search for free on the libraries’ websites. (Advantage Archives created several of our state-specific entries, for example.) See a map of past projects.
To find smaller newspaper archives yourself, you can turn to dedicated directories that catalog and link to online newspaper collections. Some prominent directories include:
- The Ancestor Hunt: “Newspaper Links”
- Cyndi’s List: Newspapers
- FamilySearch Research Wiki: “United States Newspapers” (separate pages for each state)
- LDS Genealogy: “U.S. Newspapers and Obituaries Directory”
- Wikipedia: “List of Online Newspaper Archives”
Of course, Chronicling America hosts the U.S. Newspaper Directory. Entries may include links to known digital collections, either hosted at Chronicling America or other sites. Watch a video tour of Chronicling America.
You can also simply Google a newspaper’s name. For example, I learned from Chronicling America’s directory that the Dickey County Leader and Ellendale Commercial was published from 1897 to 1931. A Google search on dickey county leader archives turns up the Newspaper Archive of Dickey County Leader, which has digitized issues from 1911 to 1913.
To find historical newspapers, you could also Google a place name plus newspaper archive and, optionally, a range of years. For example, a search on houlton maine newspaper archive 1840..1920 turns up copies of The Aroostook Times from 1905 to 1916 in the Digital Maine Repository.
State-by-State Websites for Historical Newspapers
Here are our picks for the top websites for finding state and local newspapers. You can see short tutorials for each in the free, downloadable version of this article:
- Alabama: Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Alaska: The Petersburg Public Library Digital Archives, Tundra Times Indexing Project
- Arizona: Arizona Memory Project, Casa Grande Public Library
- Arkansas: The Arkansas City Traveler Newspaper Archives
- California: California Digital Newspaper Collection, The City of Monterrey: Historical Newspapers
- Colorado: Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection
- Connecticut: Connecticut Digital Archive
- Delaware: New Castle Public Library
- Florida: Florida Digital Newspaper Library
- Georgia: Georgia Historic Newspapers
- Hawaii: Papakilo Database
- Idaho: Marshall Public Library
- Illinois: Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections
- Indiana: Hoosier State Chronicles
- Iowa: Cedar Rapids Public Library
- Kansas: Kansas Memory
- Kentucky: Kentucky Digital Newspapers and Microfilm, Kentucky Digital Newspapers
- Louisiana: Louisiana Digital Library
- Maine: Maine Newspaper Project
- Maryland: Worcester County Library
- Massachusetts: Boston College Newspapers, Cambridge Public Library, Sturgis Library
- Michigan: Digital Michigan Newspapers
- Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society
- Mississippi: Carnegie Public Library of Clarksdale, Newspaper Archive of The Woodville Republican
- Missouri: Missouri Digital Newspaper Project
- Montana: Montana Newspapers
- Nebraska: Nebraska Newspapers, NebraskAccess
- Nevada: Nevada Library Cooperative
- New Hampshire: NH History
- New Jersey: New Brunswick Free Public Library
- New Mexico: New Mexico Historical Newspapers
- New York: Brooklyn Newsstand, HRVH Historical Newspapers, NYS Historic Newspapers
- North Carolina: North Carolina Newspapers
- North Dakota: Leach Public Library, NDArchive
- Ohio: Ohio Memory
- Oklahoma: The Gateway to Oklahoma History
- Oregon: Historic Oregon Newspapers
- Pennsylvania: Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library, Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive
- Puerto Rico and the Caribbean: Digital Library of the Caribbean: Caribbean Newspapers
- Rhode Island: Pawtucket Public Library
- South Carolina: Historical Newspapers of South Carolina
- South Dakota: Grant County Public Library
- Tennessee: Chattanooga Newspapers
- Texas: The Portal to Texas History, Texas Tech University DSpace Repository
- Utah: Utah Digital Newspapers
- Vermont: Arvin A. Brown Public Library Community History Archive
- Virginia: Virginia Chronicle
- Washington: Washington Digital Newspapers
- West Virginia: Potomac State College West Virginia Newspapers
- Wisconsin: Irvin L. Young Memorial Library
- Wyoming: Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection
A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Family Tree Magazine.