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 Ancestry.com archives for family genealogy information). Ancestry.com 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, Ancestry.com 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
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