Top Websites for Finding State and Local Historical Newspapers

By Rick Crume

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The largest newspaper websites like 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

Google News

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

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.

Newspaper directories

To find smaller newspaper archives yourself, you can turn to dedicated directories that catalog and link to online newspaper collections. Some prominent directories include:

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:

Use this download to locate the newspapers of your ancestor’s small town or to zero in on a specific state.

A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Related Reads

Learn the best way to search for your ancestors at the top websites for online newspapers.
Extra! Extra! Read all about your ancestors in these free, online historical newspapers. We’ll show you the best resources for finding free digital newspapers, and how to use them.
Take the time to explore every one of these websites that covers a state (or territory) where your ancestors lived.