As the first draft of history, American newspapers have preserved essential records and detailed accounts of the people, issues and events that shaped the nation for hundreds of years. In the 1800s, American newspapers were often published by small-town printers and reflected the interests and values of the communities they served. But as the country grew and changed, so too did its newspapers. In the 19th century, the number of titles published rose dramatically, and newspapers were transformed by an increasing emphasis on society, industry, scientific advances, investigative journalism and human-interest stories. By the early 20th century, nearly every town in the United States had its own newspaper.
Thousands of titles from all 50 states
For searching and browsing American newspapers published in three centuries, America’s Historical Newspapers is the most comprehensive online resource available. Continually expanding, it offers searchable digital facsimiles of thousands of titles from all 50 states. With eyewitness reporting, editorials, letters, advertisements, obituaries and much more, this acclaimed collection uniquely chronicles the evolution of American culture and daily life from 1690 to the recent past.
Multiple series, many options, but a single interface
Easily tailored to meet the needs of every institution’s researchers, America’s Historical Newspapers features Early American Newspapers, Series 1-9; 20th-Century American Newspapers, Series 1-3; and American Ethnic Newspapers. The latter includes African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980; and Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection, 1799-1971.
In addition to its availability by series, America’s Historical Newspapers can be customized geographically by any one or more of 50 states or nine regions. And American Newspaper Archives offers more than 100 individually available titles, including many major long-running papers. Regardless of which series, states, regions or individual titles are selected, all are searchable via a common integrated interface through which researchers can read, print, save and share images.
From the leading newspaper repositories
America’s Historical Newspapers has been created through partnerships with the American Antiquarian Society, the Library of Congress, the Wisconsin Historical Society and more than 90 other institutions. A distinguished academic advisory board supervises the title selection process, considering the historical significance of each newspaper and the diverse political positions of the period.
Head, Collection Management Department
University of California, Los Angeles
Professor of History
University of New Hampshire
Newspaper and Periodicals Librarian
Wisconsin Historical Society
Digital Collections Curator
Brigham Young University
Folger Shakespeare Library
Curator of Newspapers
American Antiquarian Society
University of California, Berkeley
Professor of History
University of Missouri
Associate Professor of History
University of Maryland
Director of the Center for Bibliographic Research
University of California, Riverside
"I'm a big fan of America's Historical Newspapers. The collection has been extremely helpful in piecing together the early history of some important words, like 'Ms.' and 'jazz.'"
— Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, language columnist for The Boston Globe and former On Language columnist for The New York Times
“America’s Historical Newspapers enabled me to trace the different contemporary and then later uses of the ‘scalping’ hoax. By way of background, let me point out that Franklin was profoundly troubled that the British military was paying Native peoples to create devastation on British Americans’ homes and to kill the people. Franklin had spent much of his time while in Pennsylvania (decades earlier) figuring out how best to negotiate peacefully with Indians. So he was outraged when the Indians became (by necessity and in an effort to preserve their own sovereignty) involved in the fray between Britons in North America and those in England. The Readex database made it possible for me to discover the posthumous uses to which Franklin’s hoax had been put, and, with terrible irony, I discovered that it was used to promulgate a form of Indian-hating by Americans in North America. The original target, British peoples in England, was lost, and the Indians received the central, negative thrust of the hoax. I think Franklin would have found this appalling. So I traced the uses of the hoax and made a record of it, so that others might see how periodical circulation takes on a life of its own."
—Carla Mulford, Associate Professor of English at Penn State University and Founding President of the Society of Early Americanists
“For generations, biographers have used the same methods to conduct research: they waded through the paper trail left by their subject, piecing together a life from epistolary fragments. Based on what they found, they might troll through newspapers from specific dates in the hope of finding coverage of their subject. There were no new-fangled technologies that promised to transform their research, no way of harnessing machines to reveal new layers of historical truth.
“That’s all starting to change. Several campaigns to digitize newspapers — Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers available by subscription at research universities, or the free Chronicling America collection available at the Library of Congress — have the potential to revolutionize biographical research. Newspapers are often described as the “first draft of history,” and thanks to these new tools, biographers can tap them in ways that an earlier generation of scholars could only have dreamed of....
“With a few keystrokes, the aspiring biographer can resurrect the dead with far greater ease and speed than an army of research assistants. In the process, the fusty, antiquated art of researching and writing biographies may come to seem, of all things, cutting-edge.”
— The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2011 (The Biographer’s New Best Friend by Stephen Mihm)
"The genesis of Ms. lay buried in newspaper archives until earlier this year, when after much painstaking hunting through digitized databases I found The Sunday Republican article that started it all. ...After discovering that The Sunday Republican had recently been scanned and digitized by Readex, a publisher of digital historical materials, I was finally able to zero in on this forgotten document."
— Ben Zimmer, On Language column, New York Times Magazine (Oct. 25, 2009)
“Advertisements and notices from newspapers provide indispensable documentation of the map trade, and America’s Historical Newspapers, part of the Readex Archive of Americana, greatly facilitates the task of locating that evidence.”
—David Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps, Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, Massachusetts
“I continue to be fascinated with the way in which the Greenwich Tea Burning has been remembered in this South Jersey community. I want to explain, for example, why the tea burning did not become part of the region’s historical consciousness until 1839. America’s Historical Newspapers has already helped me trace the way this event re-emerged as part of the patriotic culture of the community. For example, regional newspapers offer extension coverage of the 1874 centennial of the event and the 1908 erection of a monument to remember those who participated. Without this digital resource, it would have been very difficult to tell the story of the Greenwich Tea Burning; and without the story, we would have missed out on a slice of local history that illuminates the way Americans have remembered and celebrated their revolutionary past.”
—John Fea, Associate Professor of American History, Messiah College
“America’s Historical Newspapers proved to be a treasure trove of informative for researchers seeking to document the history of the Frederick Muhlenberg house. Though physical evidence in the form of architectural and archaeological clues is paramount, newspaper records may also serve as a powerful tool when studying local historical buildings. Today, accessing those records is easier than Muhlenberg and his contemporaries could ever have imagined.”
—Lisa M. Minardi, Vice President, The Speaker’s House
“When I began work several years ago on my in-progress biography of William Fox (1879–1952), founder of Twentieth Century Fox, I knew I was in for trouble. Although Fox was arguably the most important of all the early movie moguls because of his foundational contributions to the art, technology and business of movies, he seemed to have largely disappeared from history....No wonder no one had ever written a William Fox biography....
“With digital technology revolutionizing the process of retrieving the past, information about Fox’s life promised to become far more accessible. Indeed, electronic research tools have made this project not only feasible but also endlessly interesting. Especially valuable—make that absolutely essential—have been newspaper databases such as America’s Historical Newspapers, which allow one to see directly how communities nationwide, both small and large, responded to the cultural lightning bolt of motion pictures. Here are ads aimed at the heartland, chatty newspaper articles about personalities both in front of and behind the camera and surprisingly rich coverage of industry trends. By the mid-1910s Americans had gone wild for the movies and their newspapers showed it.
“Data from America’s Historical Newspapers helped me solve one of my big challenges, which was to figure out how exactly William Fox became so successful so quickly as a movie producer.”
—Vanda Krefft, Biography Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the City University of New York
“My experiences have thus convinced me of the inestimable value of America’s Historical Newspapers. Indeed, without this database, it would have been impossible to recover and depict the dramatic impact the French Revolution had on popular American understandings of time. The raw evidence and search tools provided by Readex furthermore hold great promise for future scholarly inquiries. Whether it is comparing word usage across time, pinpointing the words of a particular newspaper or individual, or utilizing the database in another, as-yet-unknown mode, the opportunities appear limitless. In that sense, it might not be entirely foolish for the American historian today to assume a Wordsworthian pose and declare, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.”
— Matthew Rainbow Hale, Assistant Professor of History, Goucher College
“Readers of the Washington, D.C. newspaper The Daily National Intelligencer witnessed a strange and disturbing transformation in 1847, when the nation’s most popular literary character freely admitted that he had become a greedy, cynical killer. Soon enough this beloved American hero, whose name was synonymous with Yankee Doodle, would threaten to stage a military coup to seize the Capitol and overthrow Congress! Readers of the Early American Newspapers archive can follow along, gleaning important hints to decoding contemporary political rhetoric.”
— Aaron McLean Winter, National Tsing Hua University
“The most revolutionary change in biography writing is the advent of digitized newspapers. Unlike microfilm, which simply reproduced newspapers on film, these new electronic records provide what we biographers and historians have long dreamed for—a means of finding a needle in the haystack.... Digitized collections, such as America’s Historical Newspapers, have turned what was once a research nightmare into a writer’s dream. Now, with the stroke of a few keys, we can unearth valuable information.’
—James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power (HarperCollins, 2010)
“I first became attuned to the historical enigma of mince pie in the mid-1990s....I put the riddle of mince pie on a back shelf in my mental pantry, and there it sat for fifteen years. In that interim, digital newspaper archives came into the world. This was a bitter development to anyone who had done historical work with newspapers in the waning days of the old dispensation, but it more than compensated me by unlocking the mysteries of mince pie with just eight simple keystrokes. The America's Historical Newspapers database, for example, yielded 246 responses to headline searches of the term “mince pie” and 6,037 responses to “full text” searches.”
—Clifford J. Doerksen, author of American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005)
“Another insight came from discovery of how newspapers across the country reprinted original stories from a single source. I had known about these early wire services before but became fascinated by how reports of Ruggles’ activities were repeated in media chains across the Northeast and Midwest. Some even cropped up in the South. Long before Frederick Douglass had become a household name, readers in Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Maine could follow, applaud, or condemn Ruggles’ exploits. As my personal life became wonderfully complicated with the birth of my sons, my intellectual odyssey into David Ruggles’ life broadened without leaving the library. While such searches can never replace the friendships gained at the American Antiquarian Society and other archives, they offer invaluable assistance to time-pressed authors. Thanks in large part to America’s Historical Newspapers the biography of David Ruggles is now at hand.”
— Graham Russell Gao Hodges, George Dorland Langdon Jr. Professor of History and Africana & Latin American Studies, Colgate University
“I have been a media historian for several decades, with expertise in the history of broadcasting. For years, I did my research the traditional way, using old magazines, old newspapers, and lots of old microfilm....But as I did my research, I accumulated a long list of unanswered questions. Sometimes I would find an article that mentioned a person or an event well-known in a given city, but not well-known enough to be explained in any resources available to me. I hoped that at some future time I might solve some of those mysteries, so that I could write a more accurate piece and tell the full story.
“When database research came along, it proved to be a welcome boost to my work, giving me instant access to publications that I previously could only obtain via Interlibrary Loan, a process that could take weeks. America’s Historical Newspapers has been especially useful, since it includes many newspapers from small and medium-sized cities. That’s important for me because many of the people I could not completely identify came from places like Trenton, Cleveland, New Orleans, Portland and Seattle.”
— Donna L. Halper, Assistant Professor of Communication, Lesley University
“Motorcycle board track racing was the deadliest form of racing in the history of motorsports. Hundreds of lives were lost, both racers and spectators, during the relatively short-lived era of the boards. Yet in spite of, or perhaps partly because of, the dangers, motorcycle board track racing in the 1910s was one of the most popular spectator sports in America. Races attracted crowds of up to 10,000 fans. Young riders knew of the dangers, but chose to ignore them because the payoffs were so lucrative. Top racers could make $20,000 per year racing the board tracks, nearly a half-million dollars in today’s currency....America's Historical Newspapers made it relatively easy to research the rise and fall of the board track era.”
— Larry Lawrence, creator of “The Rider Files: Life and Times in Motorcycle Racing”
“...there is an immeasurable thrill at being able to find the exact newspaper article referenced in a letter to Jefferson, or the confirming biographical detail revealed in a death notice of an obscure individual who corresponded with Jefferson but who would otherwise have been lost to history. The ability to streamline a search helps us to be responsible stewards of the materials and provides time for other aspects of editing.
“One recent example of such targeted searching in online collections by Readex (especially America’s Historical Newspapers and Early American Imprints: Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819) is evident in the research we conducted for Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, the documents of which were published in Volume 33 of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson.”
— Martha King, Associate Editor, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson
"Searching for old-style, obesity-cure advertisements for my work on media coverage of 'anti-fat pills,' I found invaluable resources in America's Historical Newspapers. I have used many archival databases before, but America's Historical Newspapers is by far the best.”
— Dr Michael Taylor, Research Officer, Health Sciences, La Trobe University (Australia)
“Readex publishes respected subscription databases of full-text historical newspapers. Its America's Historical Newspapers collects and digitizes American newspapers; offerings include Early American Newspapers, which has recently released four additional series—series 6 (1741-1922), series 7 (1773-1922), series 8 (1844-1922), and series 9 (1832-1922). This collective addition adds 290 newspaper titles and over 4,300,000 pages to Early American Newspapers (series 1, CH, Apr'06, 43-4401; series 4 and 5, CH, Dec'12, 50-1798), bringing the complete collection to a substantial compilation of 2,000-plus newspaper titles from all 50 states, published between 1690 and 1922. Titles include valuable sources such as some 8,000 additional issues from New Orleans's Times-Picayune and some 15,000 issues from The Oregonian, now Oregon's largest newspaper. Other remarkable titles are Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and New York's The Daily Graphic--both heavily illustrated with hand-drawn graphics, making them a researcher's treasure. The complete list of additions is rich with titles of national and local importance.
“Libraries may purchase the entire collection or choose series, decades, or eras, in order to reflect a library's research needs. Readex's newspaper searching has a number of features that encourage precision and better results. The single search line can be expanded into a multiple-line search engine to better focus a complex research topic. Users may also narrow results by date, article type, language, state, and individual newspaper titles. The results present a small window of select information, with search terms in boldface for quick reading. Though other newspaper databases are available, the America's Historical Newspapers project is unique in the numbers of newspaper titles included, the number of individual issues included, and the inclusion of small local newspapers. Early American Newspapers is a real research gem for historians, all levels of college students, and genealogists. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers.”
— C. W. Bruns, California State University-Fullerton, reviewing Early American Newspapers, Series 6-9, in Choice (July 2014)
"Readex has launched a new subscription-based Web site, America’s Historical Newspapers, that enables users to travel through time and call up issues of various newspapers to conduct, for example, a thorough study of the Civil War in the 1860s, analyze the stock market as it soared in the 1920s, or track the slugger Mickey Mantle’s baseball career throughout the 1950s. Using a simple search function, users can bring to life on their monitors the pages of an old newspaper from any major American city—and some small towns—and read about whatever person or event they choose.
"For example, one can call up any number of colonial-era newspapers to track the beginnings of the American Revolution in 1775 or search twentieth-century publications to investigate the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The newspapers provide graphic accounts of history’s disasters and joyous stories of its triumphs. Do you want to know what the American people thought about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” declaration? Look it up and read how ten different newspapers covered his first inaugural address in 1933. How electrifying was the 1927 baseball World Series? Call it up and read about it, game by game and inning by inning.
"The site allows users to race back in time, seeing how newspapers covered real drama. I went to the October 27, 1881, edition of the Tombstone Epitaph to read its account of the fabled gunfight at the O.K. Corral involving the legendary marshal Wyatt Earp. The lengthy, colorful story about the high noon shoot-out in Tombstone was just as melodramatic and colorful as the movies that depicted the battle. Happily, the story included a historical note not presented on film: that hundreds of men working in the Tombstone silver mines piled out of the mine shafts, 'like an invading army,' as the reporter wrote, when they heard news of the gun battle. Users can also access a national list of newspapers—organized by state—and compare how a paper in San Francisco covered the story with its treatment in a Boston publication....
"Overall, America’s Historical Newspapers is a fabulous tool for research. The new world of electronics and gadgetry may infuriate us (turn those cell phones off!) but here, in this Internet collection of historical newspapers, it is a wonder. I am researching a book on the Civil War and was able to call up dozens of 1860s newspapers. Full of vivid and stark accounts of the conflict, the newspapers provide the first draft of history, as they say—and a colorful one.
"The site will be extraordinarily helpful to scholars doing historical research, and it will also be rewarding for college and high school history teachers and students who want to use old newspapers as part of their study of the American story. Anyone with an Internet connection and wanderlust who wants to do a little journalistic time traveling can go to this site and come face to face with presidents, Oscar winners, Wall Street titans, and leaders of the women’s movement.
"And, as the American newspaper industry continues to shrink, it is always nice to go back in time and see it in its hearty majesty."
—Bruce Chadwick, Professor of History, Rutgers University in Journal of American History (September 2010)
“Composite Score: 4.75 Stars (out of 5)....The initial search screen makes it very clear which searching options are available. One can immediately start searching using the Google-like search box and the drop-down menu of searching options, including Headline, Standard Title (i.e., publication title), and Title as published....The results list includes a wealth of information for each item, including title of publication; publication date; published as; location; headline, and article type....The results list also includes a thumbnail image (actually larger than a thumbnail) of a portion of the article. This facilitates research by making it easy to browse through and eliminate irrelevant items....
“Compared to other databases that sometimes make it difficult to find a list of titles included, this one gives you a list that is straightforward, easy to find, and includes useful details such as language, number of issues included, and start/end dates. The ability to sort the list by various categories is useful....The list of titles included is impressive. The publications list indicates details of what is included in each title, including name changes, etc. The fact that all titles are full-image enhances the use of the database for research.”
—Janice G. Schuster, Phillips Memorial Library, Providence College inThe Charleston Advisor (April 2010)
"A truly expansive archive of nearly 2,000 newspaper titles culled from all fifty states. At the time of this review, the fully searchable collection consists of three primary divisions, which together canvass the course of American history from 1690 to 1998. The first and largest of the three divisions, Early American Newspapers, is organized into seven series ranging from 1690–1922. Each series covers a range of years and geographic regions, which roughly expand in scope in conjunction with the geographic growth of the United States. A second division,African American Newspapers, 1827–1998, offers coverage of more than 170 years of African American history as recorded in 270 newspapers representing thirty-five states. The collection includes numerous historically significant titles, such as Freedom’s Journal, the first African American newspaper in American history, which was published in New York City from 1827–29. The third and final division, Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808–1980, is a by-product of the ‘Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project,’ a national program to locate, collect, and make available the written contributions of Hispanic Americans from the colonial period to the present. The collection includes hundreds of Hispanic American newspapers, including Spanish language and English titles printed in the United States."
—Daniel P. Barr, Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies (Winter 2010)
"Scholars and students of journalism history will find a rich resource of primary sources in Early American Newspapers, 1690-1922. The extensive database provides Web access to an expanding compilation of digitized newspapers published during 200-plus years….With the 2007 edition of series 4 and 5, the database numbers nearly 2,000 titles of full-text newspapers representing all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The collection contains an extensive array of papers, ranging from early colonial publications to regional weekly and metropolitan daily newspapers to the specialized press."
—Aleen Ratzalaff, Tabor College in Journalism History (Spring 2008)
"Best of Reference 2007... 'You want a primary source from when?' One-stop shopping for full-text digital images from more than a thousand U.S. newspapers published from 1690 to 1922. Zoom in and out of particular time periods with a score of handy limit options."
—Branch Libraries, The New York Public Library (May 2007)
"Most Improved Product....exploding with new content, a much improved user interface..."
—The Charleston Advisor (October 2006)
“Readex has long been the name associated with collecting and preserving documents that define and describe the country’s early heritage. Early American Newspapers (EAN), with bibliographic and full-image access to nearly two centuries’ worth of local papers (from 23 East Coast and Midwestern states and the District of Columbia), represents one of the major components of its ‘Archive of Americana’ suite of digital collections….
“It’s as if the contents of hundreds of historical societies all across America were put on display, and a glance at the list of titles-from the Cahawba Press and Alabama Intelligencer (Cahawba, AL) to The Bee (Hudson, NY) to the lone issue of People’s Friend (Danville, KY)-should be enough to give scholars and historians a serious case of goose bumps….
“Institutions acquiring multiple Archive collections receive a discount; those that own the microform receive an additional discount-an approach we warmly applaud….
“EAN's content possesses a local flavor that the other resources reviewed here cannot come close to matching.”
—Gail Golderman and Bruce Connolly, Union College in Library Journal-supplement Net Connect (Fall 2005)
"...Rapid access to newspapers spanning centuries. ... Researchers in academic, public and historical libraries will save time with this resource. … Early American Newspapers, Series I is the researcher's choice to complement Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 and Early American Imprint Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819."
—Jetta Carol Culpepper, Special Programs Librarian, Murray State University Libraries and the College of Education in Reference Reviews(November 2005)
"Early American Newspapers is a digitized, full image, completely searchable electronic database of newspapers that chronicle the rich and intriguing history of the United States' early years. The collection focuses on titles published in the 18th century but includes material from 1690 through 1876. This substantial database includes 617 newspaper titles, though many of the titles are far from complete. It features 1,344,099 pages as of 2005, with more to be added. The newspapers are primarily from a collection owned by the American Antiquarian Society. Series I includes newspapers from 23 eastern states and the District of Columbia. Series 2 and Series 3, covering other parts of the country, have recently been released.
“Researchers who remember working with clunky microfilm, with all its limitations, will be ecstatic about this product's ease of use and dynamic search capabilities. The search engine is highly intuitive.
“It is possible to combine Boolean operators in both simple and advanced searches and to limit to categories as varied as elections, legislation, poetry, letters, shipping news, and advertisements. Genealogical researchers will enjoy being able to limit searches to death or matrimony notices. Especially valuable with this type of database is the capability of dealing with the variant spellings so common in early American primary materials. The digitized images vary in quality but tend to be amazingly good, given that they are copies of deteriorating newsprint. This unique source of primary materials will be of great interest to larger public libraries and to academic libraries within the geographic areas covered. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers.”
—C. W. Bruns, California State University-Fullerton in Choice (April 2006)