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August 8, 2016               Researching Newspapers Using Free Resources

I mourn the loss of small town newspapers! They were the Facebook of their day. They didn’t just publish birth, death, marriage, and anniversary notices. In the small town newspaper where my husband’s paternal grandparents lived there was a section called “Town and Country Notes”. Here they published stories of when residents had family from out of town visit, even if it was just for dinner or even when residents left to visit family in other places. There were articles about the "Home Demonstration" clubs, 4H clubs, the farm community committeemen and even a paragraph about the Sheriff having business in the county seat - I would have thought that was just a part of his job!

I located over 35 articles mentioning Lee's family. There were articles about just getting together for Sunday dinner, winners of events at the county fair and 4H contests to jury duty notices. The most interesting article of all was how Lee’s grandparents financed the family farm. They were among three families that had been selected by a committee to purchase farms under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act in 1939. That was a history education itself!

Researching newspapers can be quite expensive if you don’t know about all of the free resources available. Pay sites are quite good, don’t get me wrong. I have found a lot of information through them. But I have also run out of time and money to keep the subscription long enough to research all the names I want to.

There are two free resources I like to research newspaper articles. One is the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America Historic Newspapers website. The url is: They have partnered with the National Endowment of the Humanities to make newspapers from 1836-1922 available to search and view digitized newspaper pages. This is an ongoing project but to-date there are over 11,086,524 pages available for viewing. They also have a link to search the US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present. This directory can be searched by newspaper title, by state, county, and city. This directory currently has 153,913 titles.

The second free resource is The url is: This is the site where I found the small county newspaper where Lee’s family was mentioned so often. They state that they are like a search engine that is focused on only historical, digitized newspapers. They do not host the newspaper articles but links you to the newspaper site that hosts the story. They are continually adding more newspapers but they currently have 2,745,271 newspapers with 2,779 newspaper titles. Dates covered are from 1800-2016, with links to newspapers from the United States various other countries.

I am sure there are many more, just look on But these two are at the top of my list for researching and ones that I continually go back to to see what has been added.


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