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Is There Any Value to Old Newspapers?

I haven’t spent much time talking about newspapers from the Public Domain, but the topic has been on my mind for a week or two (after spending significant amounts of time digging through archives for family genealogy information). definitely wins the title as the company making the most money from Public Domain content. (Dover Publications is most likely second). What’s interesting to me is that a lot (certainly not all) of their content comes from newspapers, but also from books, journals, census records and more. What’s more, is using newspapers for just one niche…genealogy. What other uses of old newspapers could be a potential goldmine for you?

When most people think of newspapers, they think “old news,” meaning that the newspapers no longer have value. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I remember spending hours at the Atlantic County Historical Society searching through old newspaper records for references to my wife’s Great-Grandmother. To me (and my wife), old newspapers became extremely valuable, especially when we found information on the person I was searching for.

Newspapers chronicle the daily happenings of a town, city, region or nation. They provide a snapshot of where we’ve been and a glimpse toward where we may be headed. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that Bob Smith bagged an 8-point buck on the first day of deer season in 1957, unless Bob was your Father and he’s no longer with us. It doesn’t matter who won the title match of a boxing event 50 years ago unless you’re a fan of the sport. Who cares about some old advice column in a paper read by your Grandmother, unless YOU are facing the same problem today.

The truth is, the past is ALWAYS there to remind us of who we were and who we could become again unless things change. And it reminds us of the “good ‘ole days” that always seem fond to remember when we think back. Because of these reasons and others that are equally important, “old” newspapers will ALWAYS be a great source for products, limited only by the imagination of the individual creating them. If that creative individual is you, allow me to point you in the direction of a LOT of source material for your next newspaper-based project. Go have some fun!
Free Newspaper Archives
Chronicling America
Cyndi’s List Newspapers
Google News Archive Search
Historical Newspapers and Indexes
Small Town Papers
U.S. News Archives on the Web
Library of Congress Special Collections
LibriVox Historical Newspaper Archive

Paper of Record

Paid Newspaper Archives
News Library
Newspaper Archive

6 Responses to “Is There Any Value to Old Newspapers?”

  • Paul:


    I was wondering how can you make money with old newspapers or even a blog. I love doing research. How can I turn this into money for me?


  • Tony–
    Just to clear up a few factual matters and to make you aware of the world to come. Firstly, is a free site. Our founding entity Cold North Wind Inc was the first company in the world to digitize an entire newspapers collection in The Toronto Star. The Star is ranked in the top twenty newspapers in the world topping put at 700,000 circulation. At our peak we digitized over 20 million newspaper pages.

    Secondly, partnered our content with Google in 2006 to bring you a vast collection of newspapers that will span the planet in multiple languages throughout the past 500 years. This product will appear through the summer of 2008. We are very pleased to leave our pioneering newspaper digitization legacy in the stewardship of Google, and believe strongly that they are the perfect partner for the endeavour.


    Bob Huggins
    Cold North Wind Inc

  • support:


    Thanks for clarifying! I’ve updated the article to correctly reflect your content.


    Finding historic content related to a theme (like sports events) and collecting it together on CD or in print is one possibility. Creating an ebook using the listings from births, marriages and obits is another. On the darker side…people seemed obsessed with murder and crime…you could collect articles that report on various crimes…mass murders, serial killers, etc. or even unexplained phenomena.


  • Alison:

    So glad that Mr. Huggins put this info /somewhere/.
    It would be nice if it were on the Paper of Record’s home page.
    I have been trying to use the site for several weeks as I have committed to write something that I was hoping to use it for.
    At least now I know that I can hope to see it again sometime.
    Great product, for which I would be willing to pay. “Free” doesn’t help much if it’s not there.

  • Ky:

    Take a look at what is doing. It’s an archive of the Nambour Chronicle & North Coast Advertiser first published in 1903. Focus seems to work here, so there you go.

  • Deb:


    Would using old clippings before the 1920s on a website be ok to do in terms of legalities or are their copyrights on newspaper content? Also I had heard 1923 as the year when items are in public domain. Is that correct for newspapers?


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