The number of options you have for genealogy resources sites is growing every year, and unless you’re a millionaire, you have to pick and choose where to spend your subscription money.
When newspaper research is what you’re after, most people turn to Newspapers.com and GenealogyBank.com.
Side by Side
Take a quick look at how the two websites stack up side by side, and then we’ll get into more specifics.
|Biggest claim to fame||More than 250 million obituaries||More than 400 million pages of newsprint|
|Newspapers||Obituaries, articles, and scanned pages from 9,600 different newspapers||Scanned pages from more than 8,700 different newspapers|
|Other records||Social Security Death Index, government publications, and historical books||None|
|Areas covered||United States only||United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Panama|
|Subscription plans||Monthly or annual. See pricing.||Monthly or semi-annual. See pricing.|
|Trial period||Half off first month||7-day free trial|
The main attraction for both Newspapers.com and GenalogyBank.com is newspapers. Both sites house amazing collections that can help anyone with their family history research.
But each site has its own core collection that is distinctly different from the other. Knowing the differences is important in picking the right site for you.
So why is having access to newspapers so important in the first place?
Newspapers are an incredible source of information when it comes to genealogy and family history. They are first-hand accounts written at the time, not legends passed down through the generations. And they go beyond the mere places and dates of many other records to bring your ancestors’ lives into focus.
Just some of the kinds of articles you’ll find in newspapers include:
- Obituaries and in memoriams
- Birth and Christening notices
- School enrollment, honor rolls, graduation lists, and other news
- Engagements, bridal showers, weddings, and even honeymoon arrangements
- Travel plans or reviews of returning from travel
- Legal notices, court appearances, and property sales
- Membership in and news from social clubs and fraternal organizations
- Enlistments into or mustering out of the Armed Forces
- Anything and everything else that people do in their lives
In some cases, you might even dig up a photo or illustration of your ancestor that you never imagined existed.
Read our full guide to newspapers for genealogy.
Newspapers at Newspapers.com
As you might guess just from the name, Newspapers.com is all about newspapers. Their collection includes digital scans of more than 400 million pages of newsprint from more than 8,700 different newspapers, and it is growing daily. They add millions more pages every month.
There are two collections at Newspapers.com. Their Basic package includes more than 100 million pages of historical newsprint. It covers primarily from 1700 to about the 1960s. It includes some more recent newspapers, but overall offers limited options when it comes to recent publications.
The Publisher Extra package provides access to all 400 million pages, including a vast treasure trove of more recent newspapers. Very often, you can find complete print runs of many major (and minor) newspapers extending from the 1960s all the way up into 2018. This is perfect for research on your more recently ancestors.
In every case, Newspapers.com includes complete digital images of the newspaper page, not single articles.
Newspapers at GenealogyBank.com
The primary focus of GenealogyBank is obituaries, and this is reflected in their collection. In general, their scans of full newspaper pages are from older newspapers, while their more recent collection focuses on just obituaries and other selected articles.
GenealogyBank’s collection covers more than 9,600 newspapers, with an incredible 95 percent of them not available anywhere else online.
While GenealogyBank has scanned pages from more newspapers than Newspapers.com, they have fewer articles overall. Why? Many of the newspapers in GenealogyBank.com’s collection are older papers from the 18th and 19th centuries. That means two things.
First, many older newspaper pages have been lost forever, destroyed either right away or at some point over the last couple hundred years.
Second, many newspapers did not last very long. During the 1800s especially, new newspapers were popping up all over the place. For example, in the year 1887, Kansas alone had about 700 different newspapers in print. Most of these papers did not last long, many of them less than a year. GenealogyBank includes a number of these very short run newspapers, which means lots of newspapers covered, but not as many total pages.
Because of their focus on obituaries, many modern newspapers are not complete runs, either. Only obituaries are available through GenealogyBank.com for these newspapers, not the rest of the articles.
Newspapers.com has one focus, newspapers, which they do amazingly well. But that is their only collection.
GenealogyBank.com has a massive newspaper collection as well, but that is not your only option when using them. They also provide access to government publications, historical books, and the Social Security Death Index.
This is a general term for anything produced by the government, so it includes a range of different types of information.
Among other things, you can find:
- Military records, including casualty lists
- Pension requests from Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers or their widows
- Adoption and other orphan petitions
- Grants of land or other property
Each record is different when it comes to the kinds of genealogical information they contain, but every one of them has something useful to offer.
People and communities are proud of their history, proud enough to want that history never to be forgotten. How do they do that? They write books.
There are thousands of genealogies and family histories already written, just waiting for you to discover how you are connected to them. While you can’t take everything in them at face value, they provide a framework that can save you countless hours on your research.
Many towns, cities, and counties have produced books about themselves, too. This was an especially popular thing to do in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These books not only talk about the area and how it came to be, but provide lists of names and even whole sections of biographies of prominent citizens.
You can also find historic maps, biographies, city directories, and even sermons and eulogies in the GenealogyBank collection.
Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
If you live in the United States, chances are you have a Social Security Number, and will apply for benefits someday (maybe you already have). This has been the case since the system was enacted in the 1930s.
While earlier decades are spotty, most people who have died since about 1971 can be found in the SSDI, especially if they were over 65 at the time of death.
While the SSDI is more impersonal than the other resources available at GenealogyBank, it can still be a great resource for finding out important facts about your ancestors.
Both websites provide easy to use basic searches, with enough powerful advanced search options to help you track down the information you need.
GenealogyBank lets you search each of their collections separately, or you can search on all of them at once. Because their obituaries are separated out from the rest of their newspaper archive, that means you have the power to find just obituaries on the names you search, rather than having to dig through a lot of other articles.
Advanced search options at GenealogyBank include limiting your search by a specific date or range of dates, and by adding keywords to your search.
Like most websites, you can also search a single location or a single newspaper, but GenealogyBank goes one better. The site makes it easy to search two or more states at once, two or more cities within a single state, or two or more specific newspapers. That extra power can save you a lot of duplicated effort.
Another great feature is the option to remove keywords from your search. In other words, you can search for articles that don’t contain a specific word. This is very helpful when you keep finding articles or obituaries from Philadelphia when you know your ancestors lived somewhere in western Pennsylvania.
Newspapers.com offers a variety of different search options as well. In addition to searching by name, location, dates, and keywords, you can also browse newspapers by paper and date, or find specific newspapers based on location and date.
While both sites have good search features, GenealogyBank has a cleaner, more intuitive advanced search page that makes it a little easier to use.
Places and Dates Covered
Every newspaper in the GenealogyBank collection was published in the United States, and their obituaries and other resources are collected from the U.S. as well. They provide excellent coverage within the U.S., but nothing from anywhere else.
Newspapers.com not only includes the entire United States (including the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico), but it also provides access to other English-language newspapers as well. Their collection includes newspapers from Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Panama.
Both sites provide extensive coverage from about 1800 to about the 1960s. They have more limited options from the 1700s, with the oldest paper in either collection dating from 1690.
While some of GenealogyBank’s titles provide full page scans from more recent years, in many cases only obituaries and selected articles are available from the 1960s up to the present.
Newspapers.com does have full article coverage all the way up to 2018 for a wide range of newspapers. However, you need to subscribe to their more expensive Publishers Extra package to have access to most of these modern newspapers.
GenealogyBank only has one real option when it comes to subscribing, by the month or by the year. Their monthly subscription is pretty pricey, but you get a huge discount (about 70% off) when you opt for the annual subscription.
GenealogyBank, unfortunately, does not offer any sort of free trial period, but you can get a 30-day trial subscription for half off of their regular monthly rate so you can check out what they have to offer without spending too much.
Newspapers.com offers both monthly and six-month subscriptions. In addition, they have two different subscription levels.
Their Basic package includes more than 100 million digitized pages from thousands of newspapers. While some modern issues are included, in general, the Basic package is better for historic newspapers prior to the 1960s.
Their Publishers Extra package gives you access to all 400 million pages from 8,700 newspapers all the way up to today.
Newspapers.com does offer a free 7-day trial to their Basic package so you can take a look for free.
Ancestry.com users: if you currently subscribe to Ancestry.com’s All Access subscription package, that package includes full access to Newspapers.com’s Basic package already built in. But if you want the Publishers Extra package, you’ll still have to pay full price for it.
And the Winner Is
In a perfect world, you should subscribe to both websites. While there is some overlap between them, they both host enormous unique collections as well.
If you want full access to modern newspapers, Newspapers.com is the clear winner, though you’ll have to buy their more expensive Publishers Extra package.
For newspapers from the United Kingdom and Canada, you also have to go with Newspapers.com.
For rare older newspapers that you won’t find anywhere else, GenealogyBank.com has an impressive collection. They’re also your better choice if you want access to their other resource collections, including the Social Security Death Index, historical books, and government publications.
While both sites provide access to obituaries through newspapers searches, GenealogyBank.com is your better choice if obituaries are your main focus. The site lets you search for obituaries faster and more accurately, and has an ongoing feed to make sure you are always up to date.
So which site you pick is up to you, but you won’t go wrong with either. Give them a try today.