The Web disseminates up-to-the-minute happenings, but it’s also a good source of yesterday’s news. Many large papers, including The New York Times <www.nytimes.com>, offer archive searches on their Web sites. Typically, you’ll get an article abstract and a citation, and you can either download the article for a fee or view it on microfilm at the library. Though you might not think your Kansas ancestor did anything to justify a death notice in the Times, you never know.
Look, too, for smaller papers indexed, abstracted or digitized on library, genealogical society or volunteer Web sites. A few examples: Newspaper Abstracts <www.newspaperabstracts.com>, Small Town Papers <www.smalltownpapers.com> and Utah Digital Newspapers <www.digitalnewspapers.org>. Peruse sites for your ancestral state archives and area libraries and historical societies, and type your ancestor’s town or city plus newspaper into a search engine such as Google.
The following database sites, available through libraries or by subscription, offer access to newspapers big and small:
• Accessible Archives <www.accessible.com/about/aboutaa.htm>: Check for availability through a library, or you can subscribe for $59.95 per year. Among Accessible Archives’ offerings are The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Liberator, and The African-American Newspapers: The 19th Century collection.
• GenealogyBank <www.genealogybank.com>: A new player in online news, GenealogyBank offers individual subscriptions for $19.95 per month. You get access to 500,000-plus digitized issues from more than 1,300 US newspapers starting in 1690.
• Newspaper Archive <www.newspaperarchive.com>: This database claims more newspaper issues since 1759 than any other service. You can join for $71.40 per year, but check to see if the service is available free at your library.