Old newspapers and magazines offer a wealth of insight into history and critical events as they were unfolding at that time. In the past, the only way to get hold of this treasure trove of information was your local library where the back issues of certain newspapers and magazines may have been preserved.
Fortunately, the Internet and digitization of content has made everything just a click away and now you can access previous issues of old newspapers almost as easily as today’s newspaper that’s lying on your coffee table.
Here are some of the best places on the web where you can find and read old newspapers and magazines online.
1. Google News - Google News indexes thousands of newspaper websites from around the world and organizes news in clusters for easy reading. In addition to current news, Google News also offers access to stories published in old newspapers that you can search for free.
Although many of these newspaper issues are scanned images of the original printed version, you can use Google search to find stories inside the papers through the magic of OCR. The actual content is hosted on other sites and Google will show if it cost any money to read that issue /news story.
2. Google Books - If you’re looking for an older issue of a magazine, Google Books might be the best place to find it.
These magazines are scanned and searchable and can be read online using the standard Google Book interface. Decades worth of material are available, and the magazines are laid out just as they were when they were originally printed. You can read archived magazines cover to cover, including the original articles, index, cover, and advertisements.
3. Trove - The National Library of Australia has a large selection of newspapers from across Australia archived online that anyone may read for free. All the newspapers are completely scanned and can be viewed online in any modern browser, or you may download them as a PDF for offline reading.
4. Library of Congress - The Library of Congress has a large repository of historic newspapers published in America between 1880 and 1922, available as PDFs.
Though the library has made available newspapers from 14 states and Washington, DC., these states contain some of the largest newspapers and thus the archives are still a very valuable resource. Additionally, the site has a database of records of all newspapers printed in America from 1690 to the present, including newspapers that are currently not published.
5. Newseum – Here you can find and download front pages of 800+ newspapers from around the world and the newspaper gallery is updated every day. The collection includes small-town and local newspapers as well as globally-distributed big papers. They also maintain an archive of newspaper front pages belonging to dates of significant importance (for example, see the September 11 archive).
6. The Olden Times - If you’re looking for a popular article about a major historical event, the Olden Times may be a good place to look for it. Although they do not contain entire newspapers, they do have snippets including popular news articles, print advertisements, and personal information sections such as births and obituaries. All content is free, and the content ranges from between 1788 and 1920.
7. OMA – Like The Olden Times but for past magazine issues. Old Magazine Articles contains magazine pages covering from famous historical events. The articles can be downloaded as PDF files for free though they have been mildly edited to remove advertisements from the original magazines.
8. Wayback Machine – Simply enter a news website address into the search box (nytimes.com for example), and the Wayback machine will show you a list of snapshots of that site. You can then read the news as it appeared on that day. It also includes collections of news articles from major events like the Asian Tsunami of 2004.
9. NewspaperARCHIVE – This is the world’s largest online archive of historical newspapers published from 1753 onwards. You can browse newspaper issues by date or find articles that match a particular phrase. NewspaperARCHIVE costs $9.99 a month if you subscribe for an year.
10. Ancestry.com - Although Ancestry.com is designed for building family trees or for finding information about your ancestors, its archives also includes thousands of newspapers and periodicals dating back to the 1700’s. Subscriptions start at $19.95/month or $12.95/month if paid per year.
1. Times Machine – This has archived editions of The New York Times from 1851 through 1922. The issues are identical to the original newspapers, and include all pages including the advertisements.
2. Times Archive - The Times. the daily paper from the UK, offers digital archives of issues from 1785 to 1985 on their website. All pages of the papers are completely scanned, and are additionally organized with an index of topics. You can read the articles highlighted on their front page for free while specific papers and articles are available for £4.95/day.
3. British Library - The British Library has scanned and digitized millions of pages of historic newspapers printed in the UK and Ireland during the 1700s and 1800s and have put them all online. Anyone can search through these newspaper archives but you’ll have to pay a £6.95 fee for 48 hour access to the online library. The newspapers can be downloaded in PDF format.
4. BBC – The On This Day section of BBC offers an online archive of some of the most significant stories broadcast by BBC News since 1950. You can select any date from the menu at the top of the page, and view the news from that date as well as today’s historical news.
5. Press Display – This is like online newspaper kiosk where you can find current and past issues of hundreds of newspapers and magazines in full-color, full-page format. Individual issues cost 99 ¢ each and you may also download them on your Windows PC, Mac or mobile devices for offline reading.
6. Boston Globe – All issues of The Boston Globe newspaper printed since 1924 are available online. You can access all news articles printed since 1979 for free while the older articles are available at $2.95 for a single article.