America’s local newspapers are a unique historical resource, providing a window into the daily doings, attitudes and prejudices of ordinary people across the decades, in some cases as far back as the mid-19th century. However this archival resource typically haven’t been available to most people outside the newspapers’ own offices and a few select libraries -- until now.
Gannett is joining forces with Ancestry, a service that allows users to trace their genealogy back in some cases for centuries, to digitize the archives for over 80 daily newspapers owned by Gannett across the U.S. The digital archives, consisting of over 100 million pages, will be available for viewing on Newspapers.com, another Web site owned by Ancestry.
The digital archives will offer a range of functionality for browsing and sifting newspaper content, including full text search, clipping and sharing features. Newspapers included in the archives will be The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit Free Press, The Arizona Republic, The Indianapolis Star, and The Tennessean, among others.
Gannett subscribers will have access to the most recent two years of content, and the complete archives will be available through a special monthly or annual subscription.
In addition to containing basic genealogical information in the form of birth and death announcements, daily newspapers archives may provide additional information of interest to people researching their ancestors in areas like business, education, local politics, and civic organizations (not to mention the police blotter).
For historians, one of the most interesting features of local newspapers is the advertising, which often reflected cultural and social attitudes of the times regarding everything from childrearing and gender relations to science and healthcare. They also provide a fascinating perspective on the popular reaction to new technologies like telephone, automobiles, radio and TV over time.