Obituaries were first seen published in ancient Rome around 59 B.C.E. Though these instances were historical outliers, socially we would not normalize the practice of writing death notices or obituaries for a little bit longer. From the history of the printing press, it was unlikely that any of the first publishers would ever think that their works would end up being sought after by weekend warrior genealogists.
Newspapers are one of the best sources in which we, from a time entirely different from those of our ancestors, can reference what life was like for our long-dead family members. From advertisements to the price of produce at the local market, and to the announcements of birth, marriages, and deaths, newspapers are truly some of the most insightful references for our genealogical research.
Related: Newspaper Research in Genealogy
As genealogists, we are always on the hunt for hidden gems of information across all kinds of different online databases. There are a plethora of online databases that get overlooked in favor of the bigger companies like Ancestry or MyHeritage. One of those lesser-known sites is NewspaperArchive.com.
What is NewspaperArchive?
NewspaperArchive is a subscription-based site that provides its users access to online digital images of their many exclusive collections. These collections range from many U.S. based documents but it also has international newspapers. These collections are searchable and offer their subscribers the option to save images of their collection.
Is NewspaperArchive.com legit?
Yes, NewspaperArchive is a legitimate website and has thousands of consumer reviews. The company was founded by Christopher Gill in 1999. Gill’s background is quite extensive within the digitization of historical records. In 1976 Gill purchased the microfilm division of the company, Crest Information Technologies, which operated in microfilming documents and newspapers. Gill changed the name to Heritage Microfilm and specialized in software that digitized microfilms and microfiche.
As the digitization began, GIll slowly realized that people were not consulting newspaper archives to read about old news but, instead, he saw that the majority of curious researchers were coming to look for mentions of their family members. With this in mind, the 1999 launch of NewspaperArchive was a big hit!
Who owns NewspaperArchive?
In 2020 the company was purchased by Charles Thayne Capital, an equity firm established in 2019 by Brian Gornick, of Chicago and Matt Marsh, of Utah.
Christopher Gill did not give up his entire role with the company’s operations when the equity company made its purchase though. In fact, Gill plans to improve the company’s customer experience over the coming years. Over the company’s founding, Gill has worked to establish connections with newspaper archives across the US and, slowly but surely, networked extensively to improve the database and expanded into international newspaper archives.
How much does NewspaperArchive cost?
NewspaperArchive offers their potential subscribers many different options upon their registering to the company’s database. You can open an account with monthly payments of $19.95, a six-month subscription for $74.95 ($12.50/month), or a twelve-month subscription for $139.80 ($11.65/month). With the six and twelve-month subscriptions, new subscribers are able to utilize a seven-day free trial which allows you to figure out if the database is worth your time for whatever research they’re conducting. There is no seven-day free trial for the monthly subscribers. If your subscription does not get canceled promptly before the seven days of the free trial is up, you will be charged for the entire amount.
NewspaperArchive has continued to expand its online content over recent years. From 2009, the company had under three thousand titles only from North America in their database. In 2018, they have just under ten thousand titles from the US and other countries. By 2021, they have nearly doubled the size of their database.
It is vital to understand that NewspaperArchive has specific locations within its database that might not be useful to potential new subscribers. If you’re wanting to research newspapers within a specific location and you cannot find them on any other competition websites such as Newspapers.com or GenealogyBank.com, it may be worth checking NewspaperArchive. However, it is no secret that Newspapers.com (acquired by Ancestry) and GenealogyBank.com have much more widespread databases.
How do you know what newspaper archives they have? Before beginning a free trial or a full-on subscription, potential consumers can reference the ‘Publications’ link in the homepage’s toolbar. Here, the list of newspapers within the collection is listed inform most recently updated. However, you can browse through NewspaperArchives’s collection by the search bar and search by the name of the newspaper, the city, state, county, and time frame. Here is where you can get a better understanding of what they have to offer and reference whether or not their collection is helpful with your research.
If you’re looking to not spend money but still access the archives, it could be useful to check your local library as sometimes, but not many, NewspaperArchives has contracts with public facilities. If this is not the case in your area, do note that there are limited free corners of the NewspaperArchives database. Though these corners are generally just a couple pages of free unblocked content, most of them are just newspaper articles of famous persons or events. When trying to filter through surrounding pages, you will receive a “This feature is locked” pop-up with a link to begin a free trial.
You can search through the archives for free as well. However, you won’t have any luck opening the images if you are not subscribed and running your free trial. This has been known to frustrate many users. You may be able to retrieve pixelated abstracts of the article but they are not nearly clear enough to make out.
NewspaperArchives vs Newspapers.com and GenealogyBank
As we briefly discussed above, it is possible that NewspaperArchives will be beneficial to you in your genealogical research. With that said, use the “Publications” tool to search for the areas you’re interested in before beginning a free trial and subscribing.
The main competitors GenealogyBank.com and Newspapers.com offer incredible databases but all three of these websites have different corners of the world within their collections. It is important to reference what locations and time frame that all of these different subscription-based company’s have before throwing money at them. However, if you have the money to spend, being a subscriber to all three would only increase your odds of locating specific newspaper articles.
As NewspapersArchives is a smaller company, their customer service support has been known to be very limited. Their number, still listed in some areas of the website, was actually discontinued. I do believe that through the acquisition from Charles Thayne Capital, Gill will likely improve these faults.
It is no doubt that, in a matter of decades, it will be very rare to not be able to locate a newspaper publication from an online collection. With that said, there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of patience to be had by us genealogists. In the meantime, referencing multiple company collections is something that will likely benefit your research but, don’t forget about the smaller guys like NewspaperArchive. They may have just what you’re looking for.
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