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Extra! Extra! Free NY Newspapers!

Boy newspaper seller 1920's clothes

I stumbled across a site FREE historic New York newspapers! As many of you fellow Empire State researchers will attest, there is not much info online, especially not for free. This week I went back to check on my now too long neglected maternal line which is chock full of people from Erie and Sullivan Counties, to see what new hints might have cropped up.

Sure enough, a new member photo/screen shot in Ancestry citing "NYSHistoricalNewspapers." As I was reviewing the clipping, it dawned on me that I did not recognize this source. I immediately went to Google and typed it in, and was confused for a bit that Google wanted me to download a "translator" and discovered that this site was listed on DuckDuckGo? But once I got in to the site, it has been smooth sailing ever since.

Once I got there, I found that this is a free site, hosted by the Northern New York State Library System, supported by volunteers and donations. This site is NOT owned by Ancestry or any other mandatory subscription site!

screenshot NY State Historical Newspapers site

You can search the entire state, or by county, or by regions, and then by decade. I clicked on Sullivan County, and got a listing for available newspapers by city. When I added a surname I got over 306 hits! So much more information than I even imagined possible after more than 30 years of research. Births, deaths, out of town visitors, new jobs, parties, lawsuits, you name it, it was in the newspapers back in the 1870's - 1930's in Sullivan County.

Screenshot of page from 1875 Republican Watchman Sullivan County, NY

The pages have been scanned AND indexed by OCR (Optical Character Recognition)! Some of them are fragmented, like this one, but the name or term you enter in the Search box will come up highlighted!

You can clip an article as you would in, or it will download a PDF of the full page for you like this one here. HOWEVER, it is not set up to record the citation automatically and it will not save directly to a person in Ancestry. This PDF was downloaded with a document name of the date of the issue. You will need to add the publication name, etc. when you save it to your ancestor in your tree.

This particular clipping is the announcement of the probate of the estate of a Thomas Traynor of Sullivan County, listing the widow, Sarah, and twelve other relatives most of whom are still living in Crossmaglen, County Armagh, (now Northern)Ireland. I have been trying to find additional family in the same area, these are probably my people!

The site is free to use for non-commercial purposes (link and fine print are at the bottom of the page) and they are accepting donations of materials such as PDF's or microfilms as they endeavor to catalog every available issue of every county newspaper. If you become a registered user you can keep your own list there of your articles of interest, get regular updates from the site, and volunteer to help correct the OCR gobbledygook that often occurs.

Have you found other sites like this one? Please share! I was so excited by this discovery of Free Newspapers I could hardly wait to tell you. I've got to get back to it, I can feel a brick wall bust coming through!

Happy hunting!

Leslie Ryan

No compensation is received for any links or referrals herein. No copyright infringement is intended.

"The newspapers on the New York State Historic Newspapers website are either in the public domain (any papers published before January 1, 1924) or has been cleared for usage by the original copyright holder for members of the public for noncommercial, educational, and research purposes. The written permission of any copyright owners and/or other rights holders is required for reproduction, distribution, or other use of any protected items beyond those listed above and may be protected by United States Copyright Law. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

"New York State Historic Newspapers allows the download of items in the database for the above uses. Attempts to download entire newspaper runs or other unauthorized access could result in the revocation of the right to utilize this database. Please direct any questions or comments about this policy to"


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