Free Online Historical Newspapers Through June 19

By Allison Dolan

The subscription genealogy database service is making its entire historical newspapers collection free through June 19 to mark the expansion of its newspaper database by 20 million images.

You need to register with and provide your e-mail address to access the collection, but you don’t have to give your credit card number.

This addition doubles the size of the newspaper collection with pages from large- and small-town papers, including The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.), Modesto Bee and Herald News (Modesto, Calif.), Raleigh Register (Raleigh, NC) Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio), and more. Coverage varies by title.

Search the collection by a name and a keyword. You can add a year range and place, but that didn’t seem to affect my search—even though I checked the Exact boxes, results came from everywhere and all years.

Matches are categorized by newspaper title; click a title to see results for that paper. You’ll see a snippet of the page containing your search term (some image links, including those in my El Paso Herald matches, seem to be broken), with the publication year on the right. It would be cool if the results were arranged by year, so you could scroll to the time your ancestor lived in that area, but you’ll have to evaluate each match.

The Refine Your Search options aren’t available for this collection, since the article content isn’t indexed by birth or death information, or family members’ names (makes sense, since not all newspaper articles would have that information).

If you’re looking for news of a specific event, try browsing individual papers by date. Go to the newspapers collection listings in the card catalog and enter your ancestors’ hometown in the “Filter by a keyword” box. Select a newspaper title, then scroll down to the Browse by Date option. You also can search the individual title from that page.