Newspapers are an amazing source of genealogical information. Plus, they’re just cool. It’s fun to see what was going on at specific historical moments. So how can we get old newspapers?
Old newspapers, whether the copy is an original print, a digital version, or a reprint, can be found online and in person. They can be found at websites focused on collectibles, history, genealogy, and others. Old papers can cost $0-$30,000+. Old newspapers should be stored appropriately.
As you’re digging into newspapers, here’s a cool tip: don’t get so focused on finding the information in one city that you forget to look at nearby or bigger cities nearby. Stories that didn’t make it into the local town’s paper may have made it into a nearby city’s paper. Or if the event was deemed newsworthy enough, it may have been covered in multiple papers.
Ready to dive into old newspapers and get even more cool research tips? Let’s do this!
How to Get Physical Copies of Old Newspapers
To get physical copies of old newspapers, you’ll need to find a collector who has them available. We scoured the internet and found the four easiest places to buy old newspapers directly. Each of these four sites sells physical newspapers – both originals and reprints.
|Where to Buy Old Newspapers||Important Notes|
|eBay.com||Has mostly random copies of newspapers with historical significance. Usually sold by collectors or folks who have newspapers. Prices vary widely.|
|AnyDate.com||Has a wide variety of newspapers by date, historical significance, or gift box ideas. Also has maps. Prices vary but expect to pay upwards of $30 (or more) per paper.|
|Historic-Newspapers.com||Has a wide selection of historic newspapers, books, and newspaper books. Prices vary widely, from a single page reprint for $10 to original papers for $50+.|
|CollectorsWeekly.com||Has a wide selection of options for newspapers, magazines, and more. Many of their available listings look to be curated listings from eBay.com. Prices vary widely.|
Now, it’s not always easy to go to a link from a table from every mobile device. So for everyone’s convenience, we’ve put the links below in a list. That way, none of us have to worry about fat-fingering the wrong link. All links open in new windows for convenience as well.
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- eBay.com – click here to go check out their collectible newspapers.
- AnyDate.com – click here to see their available options.
- Historic-Newspaper.com – click here to see 100+ years’ worth of original newspapers.
- CollectorsWeekly.com – click here to see their old newspapers and vintage clippings collection.
The best part about each of these places is that they’re very easy to search – meaning you can find what you want with relative ease. And you don’t have to go scouring through things to find that needle in the newspaper haystack.
How Much Do Physical Copies of Old Newspapers Cost?
To get an original copy of an old newspaper, be prepared to pay upwards of $50 or more, depending on the issue, rarity, and quality. Reprints of single pages (usually the front page) can be bought for much less – usually around $10. Highly in-demand physical copies of newspapers may cost thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars.
Newspaper book reprints are another option for physical copies of old newspapers. They’re much cheaper, though they can still cost $30 or more.
How to Get Digital Versions of Old Newspapers
Getting a digital version of a newspaper may be more realistic, especially if you’d rather not store a fragile and difficult-to-preserve historical artifact. They’re also generally much cheaper and easier to store. Here are 13 places to find, get, or buy digital versions of newspapers.
|Where to Find Old Newspapers||Cost||Important Notes|
(7-day free trial)
|Ancestry’s all-access subscription includes access to a basic newspapers.com account.|
(7-day free trial)
|Covers 19K+ different newspapers across the US and some other countries.|
|Chronicling America||Free||A service of the Library of Congress – includes many US newspapers from 1690-present.|
|Google Search||Free||When in doubt, start with a Google search. This can help you know where to look (though we’ve got you covered, too).|
|Local University’s Archives||Varies||Your local university may keep an archive of old newspapers.|
|State Archives||Varies||If your local university doesn’t have the newspaper archives, then your state will have the archives.|
|Google News||Free, Varies||Another extensive online collection of newspapers.|
|Newspaper Archive||From $15/month|
(7-day free trial)
|This collection isn’t as big as others, but it is growing.|
|Elephind.com||Free||At the time of publication, they have more than 200 million items from 4,345 newspapers.|
(7-day free trial)
|Provides more records than newspapers, has a very large, exclusive collection.|
|International Coalition of Newspapers||Free via Libraries||Has more than 47 million issues from 171 thousand publications.|
|Wikipedia||Free (with site-wide fundraising requests)||Has a lot of options but not the easiest database to search.|
|FamilySearch Research Wiki||Free||Search for your state plus newspapers (example: “Utah newspapers”)|
Again, because links in tables can be tricky, here is the list of links to the above-mentioned places to get digital versions of newspapers.
- Ancestry.com – click here to access their site. They’re one of our top overall picks as a genealogy resource.
- Newspapers.com – access their site by clicking here.
- ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov – click here to open that site in a new window.
- Google Search – Search Google. You may want to use an incognito window—no link provided in this case because it’s Google.
- Your local university’s archives – Use a google search for your local university plus the word “archives.” That will help you see what’s available online. It should also give you information on a contact person should you need help.
- Your state’s archives – Do a Google search for your state (or country) plus the word “archives.” That should give you a location, a website, and/or a contact person. Start there.
- Google News – click here to access Google’s online newspaper repository.
- NewspaperArchive.com – click here to access their site. That link opens in a new window.
- Elephind.com – click here to open their site in a new window.
- GenealogyBank.com – click here to see their site. Gift memberships are a cool option and are available in 6-month increments.
- ICON.crl.edu (International Coalition on Newspapers) – click here to visit their site.
- Wikipedia.org – check their list of publications and newspaper archives at this link here.
- FamilySearch.org/wiki – click here to go to the main page research section of the wiki.
Don’t forget to do a general Google search (or Yahoo or whatever search engine you prefer to use). A lot of small-town publications aren’t online, but you can usually find those by going to state archives or local university archives.
Important note: if you’re a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there’s a way to get a free subscription to Ancestry.com AND several of our other top genealogy picks. Details here – scroll to the section about best genealogy websites for members of the church.
How Much Do Digital Copies of Old Newspapers Cost?
A digital newspaper can cost anywhere from free to $25, in the cost of the monthly subscription fee to the service in question.
Digital versions of newspapers are considerably more affordable than buying the original paper. The most expensive digital versions are less than half of the cheapest print version of a paper. And even then, most digital versions can be gotten for free. The rarer papers and editions may require a subscription to one of the more exclusive newspaper services.
However, even that cost isn’t 100% accurate, as it does include access to other papers or genealogy features. But it’s at least a way to gauge the price.
Are Old Newspapers of Any Value?
Old newspapers can be worth anywhere from a few dollars on up to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the issue and its condition.
According to data we’ve collected from several websites, here’s what some of the most valuable old newspapers are worth.
|Boston Daily Globe||16 April 1912||Titanic’s sinking||up to $499|
|Call-Chronicle-Examiner||19 April 1906||San Francisco Earthquake||around $700|
|New York Herald||15 April 1865||Lincoln’s assassination||around $1,000|
|Honolulu Star-Bulletin||7 December 1941||Pearl Harbor||around $2,000|
|The Virginia Gazette||17 February 1775||Commentary on pre-Revolutionary America||$4,900+|
|Chicago Sunday Tribune||2 October 1932||Babe Ruth calls a home run||$8,500+|
|The London Gazette||3 September 1666||London fire||$8,500+|
|The London Gazette||22-26 May 1701||Execution of Captain Kidd the pirate story||$16,000+|
|The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser||18 September 1787||Announcement that the Constitution was ratified||$30,000+|
This data was collected from several sites about how much newspapers are worth. Here they are with links to them.
- JustCollecting.com’s article about 5 of the most valuable newspapers in the world (click here to go to that article).
- RareNewspaper.com’s list of really expensive newspapers. Click here to read about newspapers that cost up to 5 digits.
Of those two, the second site is probably my favorite. It’s really cool to see that newspapers from centuries ago are still viewable – even if they are crazy expensive. In these cases, I’d suggest we all look up the digital versions. Unless you’ve got the budget for a print version – then that’s a whole other ball game, and you may really want a cool print edition of an historic moment.
Now, if you’ve got old copies of newspapers you’re probably wondering if they’re worth anything. There are several sites and agencies that will buy old newspapers. You can also donate them to any of various agencies, libraries, or universities.
But if you aren’t looking to donate an old newspaper to a local university’s library, then here are a couple of good places to look at for selling to.
- eBay.com – eBay is a great way to directly sell your old newspapers to collectors. The only downside to it is that you have to do all the work and waiting. But that means you may get the best price possible for your newspaper.
- Go Back to the Past (click here to open their site in a new window, but be warned they are only an HTTP site, so there may be a security warning pop up when you click it) buys all sorts of old memorabilia, including newspapers.
- Neat Stuff Collectibles (click here to open their website in a new window) buys all sorts of collectibles. Their site is very simple – it looks to be just a chat window to connect you to an agent.
- Anywhere that specializes in collectibles should have an agent you can talk to about buying and selling old newspapers.
- Sometimes smaller bookstores may also buy and sell newspapers. So it may not hurt to ask there, either.
The price you’ll get for your older newspaper copy varies widely depending on its age, quality, and connection to important historical moments.
For example, I didn’t see much value in the way of newspapers covering the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, in my research. But if the price on the San Francisco Earthquake and the Titanic’s sinking is any indicator, then those stories from big-name papers may be worth some money in a few more decades. Or it might not. We won’t know until enough time has passed.
How to Store Old Newspapers Safely
Once you’ve found or obtained an old newspaper, it’s important that you store it safely.
Storing old newspapers safely and properly involves storing individual issues (or better yet, pages) flat and in a polyethylene bag inside of a rigid, archival-quality and acid-free box with a desiccant cannister to keep things dry. You may also want to layer the pages of a newspaper with alkaline buffered tissue (sometimes called acid-free buffering tissue) to slow degradation.
Want our recommendations on supplies? You can’t go wrong with these.
- Newspaper preservation box – you can’t go wrong with this brand! It’s one of our favorites – and it’s on Amazon, which is hugely convenient.
- Buffered, archival-quality tissue doesn’t look like Kleen-ex. See what actually looks like on Amazon.
Why do newspapers need to be stored so carefully? It has to do with how the paper in newspapers is made.
Newspapers are made of a poor-quality, lignin-rich paper. Lignin contains an acid that breaks down the paper fiber over time. This means that, on average, a newspaper completely degrades within 50 years of printing unless it’s preserved and stored right.
And while there have been huge advances in paper over the centuries, newspapers have always been made the same way – and with the same results. Newspapers are fragile, easily-destroyed documents.
This makes the fact that we’ve still got some newspapers from the 1600s an astronomical feat. It’s amazing! But if you’ve got an old newspaper, it also means you have to go to special lengths to store it.
Now, if you’ve got a full issue, go ahead and store it in stages. Stick issues (or individual pages) into archival polyethylene bags. Stack the bags into an archival-quality, acid-free box. Throw in a desiccant cannister – it’s sort of like an oxygen absorber used in food storage, but for water (and not oxygen).
For newspaper clippings, you can store those in polyethylene bags or in an acid-free file folder or envelope. Then, add those file folders (or envelopes) full of newspaper clippings to an archival-quality box. Don’t forget the water-absorber!
Don’t ever store your important documents and newspapers in an attic or a garage.
Then, store your archival-quality boxes in a safe, secure, and regulated location. By “regulated,” we mean that the area should be both temperature, humidity, and light controlled. Big fluctuations in temperature, light, and humidity will cause important documents (and newspaper) to degrade faster – even if they’re in storage-quality containers.
Instead, keep them in a closet on a shelf. That way, they’re safe even if there’s some minor flooding. Or if you live in an area where major flooding is a concern, find a better place to store those documents – like maybe in a closet on the second floor.
If you want to display the paper, consider making a copy for the display. Newspapers will quickly yellow in a display case, thanks to the light and air exposure. This means the paper will degrade faster – probably faster than you’d like. So go ahead and display a copy of the newspaper. Then, you can store the original safely.
Here are some more resources on storing newspapers.
For more reading on storing newspapers, Archives.gov is a great resource to bookmark. You can check out their recommendations at this link here. Spoiler: they’re going to tell you exactly what we did, although they do mention that the ideal storage temperature is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity level of 40-50%.
Another source you may want to check out is ArchivalMethods.com – with their article on papers here. Again, we’ve covered everything they do – they just have some really cool pictures of old newspapers and how to store them. So they may be worth referencing just for the pictures.
Do I need a professional to prepare my newspapers for storage for me?
Most people can store their old newspapers, using the steps outlined in this article, by themselves just fine. Just make sure you have a newspaper preservation kit (like this one from Gaylord on their site or on Amazon here) to make things easier. The kit is nice – it even has the gloves you’ll want to wear to help prevent further degradation.
However, if you really want a professional opinion or for someone to treat the paper (to prevent further deterioration), then you may want to contact a professional conservator. They will be able to tell you exactly what services they offer.
Now, we want to make sure you’ve got everything you want and need to know about newspapers. So let’s cover a few more questions, because they get asked an awful lot. And if we missed your question, please let us know – we’d love to answer it (and get it added here for other readers). Use our contact us page and let’s chat about your questions!
In any case, let’s dive into the questions now.
What newspapers are available in the area I’m looking at?
If you aren’t familiar with the publications available in your area, that’s okay. You can ask around, ask Google via a search, check out 50States.com, or check the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Any of these options will help you figure out the publications and newspapers printed in your area.
What can I find in a newspaper that can help me with my family history?
Obituaries are a genealogical goldmine. They have information about the person, their life, family members (spouses, children, siblings, parents, etc.). An obituary is the single-best source about a person and multiple generations of their family.
Newspapers also have information about big family events, like birthdays, anniversaries, legal notices, marriages, and other newsworthy events. Just remember that a big town may define “newsworthy” differently than will a smaller town’s paper.
And don’t forget to check several papers – even from surrounding towns. Your family may have submitted obituary or other news to another paper than just their own.
Can you view old newspapers online?
Definitely. All of the digital collections we listed earlier in this article will allow you to search and view digital copies of original newspapers. Scroll back up to check those out now.
Can I buy copies of old newspapers in bulk?
If you’re wanting bulk copies of old newspapers to display around the house (or to give out), then there’s a couple of options for you.
- Buy old newspapers in bulk from Alibaba.com. Alibaba is sort of like eBay. You can see their available, bulk newspaper options at this link here. Just know that by bulk, we mean bulk-bulk. The lowest quantity of newspapers I saw on there was a full ton. And you’ll really have to search to find a specific edition.
- Get a digital version of the old newspaper and print copies. Or just send the digital file to your family members, as long as you’re operating within the stated terms of service of where you got the digital file.
So if you aren’t feeling like doing a lot of searching through bulk options, remember to find the digital version of your desired edition. Then print or share that. Again, please make sure you’re complying with the stated terms of where you found that paper. You don’t want to lose access to a valued membership over a shared file.
Where can I view old newspapers (online or in-person) for free?
FamilySearch.org is our favorite, go-to resource for all free genealogical research – including old newspapers. You can go check it out here and type in “newspaper” in the search bar. However, its available newspaper collection isn’t super huge. That’s why we also compiled our list of sources for digital newspapers.
Make sure you go check that out – just scroll up. Many of those options are free – and we’ve listed them as such.
But to recap our top choices after FamilySearch, start by checking out The Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection and Elphind.com‘s free collection of international newspapers. These are definitely the places I’d start looking – but seriously go review the full list of suggestions earlier in the article. Across those suggestions, you’ll have free access to millions of newspapers worldwide.
Or, if you’re willing to invest in a subscription to get access to specialty newspapers, then Genealogy Bank is worth considering, too.
Do Schools Keep Old Yearbooks? Many schools keep old yearbooks, though they may also be kept at the local high school or the local archives. Libraries, eBay, or websites may also have old yearbooks. Read our article on where to find old yearbooks for all of the details.
How Can I Preserve Old Family Recipes? Old family recipes can be preserved in plastic sheets, via digitization, in plastic sheets, or in other creative ways. Make sure you read our article on preserving family recipes for more ideas!
What is the Safest Way to Store Family Documents? Family documents should be stored in archival-quality plastic covers or acid-free folders and boxes. These should be stored in a light, temperature, and humidity-controlled location. For more information and specifics, make sure you read our article on storing family documents.
Cite this article as: “How to Get Old Newspapers: 17 Places to Look.” Genealogy Pals, 14 December 2020, genealogypals.com/how-to-get-old-newspapers-17-places-to-look/.