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Genealogy Subscription Savings with Newspaper Research

I mentioned in last week's post that one way to save while doing more genealogy is drop a more expensive subscription in favor of a cheaper one (even if that is just a temporary option). This post is going to give you one specific example, newspaper subscriptions (paid AND free options!)

This post has been updated (into three separate posts). If you're looking for the digitization information or Evernote information, they are now their own posts.
Save on genealogy subscriptions while doing newspaper research on your ancestors | The Occasional Genealogist

This post contains affiliate links.

Alternative Subscriptions

Since I just suggested trying different subscriptions, I actually noticed I had emails from Family Tree Magazine with a newsletter-only deal to GenealogyBank. They are one of my top recommendations of a "cheaper" subscription to consider (I've been a subscriber for years so lucky you I even noticed this deal).

I could not find a way to share the offer so it appears to be available only to newsletter subscribers. They have this type of offer regularly so if you're interested, just sign-up for the free newsletter from Family Tree Magazine. But let's talk a bit more about newspaper research...


Newspaper records are a great "alternative" subscription. There are two main reasons for this.
  1. The subscriptions are often (not always) cheaper than you pay for a site with multiple types of records.
  2. Newspapers take a lot of time to use.
It's the combination of these two reasons that make a newspaper-only subscription a great choice for an Occasional Genealogist looking to save on subscriptions.

Why not have just a newspaper subscription for a little while? You'll be more motivated to use it if it's a short-term subscription and you won't have an alternative subscription distracting you.

You Must Do This if You Want to SAVE with a Newspaper Subscription

There's a very important factor you need to consider before paying for a newspaper subscription (any subscription). With all newspaper subscriptions, check for your top time and place choices. I don't think I've ever seen a subscription (excluding ones for a single paper) where the site offers a complete run of the paper.

Here's where you need to be careful...That means just seeing there is a paper for a town of interest isn't enough. It could be one day of that paper, a few years, or extremely spotty coverage. Spotty coverage is the most dangerous. It will be listed as xxxx-yyyy making it appear continuous. What is offered varies drastically from site to site so you have to check.

Free Newspapers Archives
Also, make sure you're checking for free newspaper sites including the Google News Archive and Chronicling America, too. My personal research gets more from those two free sites than all the paid sites combined. However, I have gotten better coverage for client projects from paid sites several times. It varies drastically depending on your research needs.

Many states now have some type of digital newspaper archive. These range from a few historically important images, to large collections you have to browse, to amazing collections that rival the paid sites.

To find free and paid options, I always Google both "[state name] digital newspaper archive" and location specific terms with "newspaper archive." Sometimes a location had one paper so use that name in the latter scenario, otherwise, go for the county and several towns around where your family was living. The county seat should have had a paper but it may not be the one your family appears in.

Top Paid Picks for Newspaper Archive Subscriptions

My two favorite paid sites are GenealogyBank and Newspapers.com (which is owned by Ancestry.com). GenealogyBank is launching a new website (still in beta) which I've really liked. Newspapers.com seems to have a better search function OR the scanning is consistently better for OCR than other sites. I don't know which but I often wish a paper from a different site was at Newspapers.com just for the search functionality.

There are a lot of subscription options out there for current newspapers if that's what you need (or more recent papers, such as through NewsBank, basically GenealogyBank for recent papers).

You may find NewspaperArchive.com has what you need. They are fairly expensive and a number of years ago got into trouble for some shady practices. Those have supposedly been remedied (including making it easier to cancel a subscription) but I still shy away from them unless they have exactly what I need (so far they haven't).

I love using newspapers but it's hard to find time. If you're looking to save some money, why not try a newspaper subscription instead of your more expensive genealogy subscription for awhile? You might even find what you need is available for free. You have to look before you'll know.


Give your regular genealogy subscription a break and try newspapers. You'll save some money and learn about your ancestors. | The Occasional Genealogist




Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com






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