Locating Offline Newspapers

Tips for locating historical newspapers in the U.S. that haven't yet been digitized online


Though there are many U.S. newspapers that have been digitized and are searchable online, there were thousands of newspapers printed over time and many of them are not yet digitized. Here are some methods you can use to locate offline newspapers.

1. Check for digitized newspapers first.

Using digitized newspapers is superior to going through old newspapers on microfilm because you can search by name and view the images at a glance. So before looking for offline newspapers you'll want to make sure there are not online newspapers available.

One way to locate online digitized newspapers is through our U.S. records directory. Look for the state and county that you need and then look for sources that apply.

Due to the fast rate at which newspapers are coming online, our directory may not have some newspapers listed yet. An additional way to locate online digitized newspapers it to do a Google search on the name of the city or county where your ancestor died along with the words "digitized newspapers."

2. Try the local public library for the area where your ancestor lived.

Public libraries often have microfilm or paper copies of old newspapers. Try a Google search for the public library by searching for the county and/or town where your ancestor lived, along with the words "public library." Then once you find the local public library, look on their website to see if they have a section about local history or genealogy. Usually if the library has copies of newspapers it will mention it on the library website. If the library is small, the website may not have much information, so in that case, call or email the library and ask them. If the public library doesn't have copies of the newspapers, they will usually know where copies of old newspapers for the area are currently located.

If the public library has copies of the newspapers, they may be willing to search them for you for free or for a small fee. Or it may be possible to borrow a copy of the microfilm with the newspapers through interlibrary loan. If the newspapers are not indexed or digitized, then a page by page search will be required and this type of search is time consuming. So if you are looking for an obituary in a newspaper that's not yet digitized, an exact date of death will be needed.

3. Use the U.S. Newspaper Directory from the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress has organized information on all the historical newspapers published in the United States. You can search for a particular location and find out what newspapers were printed. The directory also includes information about archives where copies of the newspapers may be located. Once you have a specific newspaper title and an archive location, find the archive website to see what newspapers are available.

Keep in mind that just because a newspaper was printed many years ago it doesn't mean that copies of that newspaper still exist today. Also, sometimes the information in the directory is outdated so an archive or library may not have the newspapers that the directory says it has. However, knowing the names of possible archives where the newspapers are located can help point you in the right direction in order to find out where the newspapers might be located.

Though it can sometimes take persistence if you keep searching there's a good chance you can find the newspapers you are looking for.

Need help finding more records? Try our genealogical records directory which has more than 1.3 million sources to help you more easily locate the available records.

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