Google Offers Historical Newspaper and Archive Searches

Google now offers timeline listings of Google News Archive Search. This is a great way of searching historical newspapers and documents for your mention of your ancestors.

Many of those search results currently come from

Your Portal to the Past,, is the single largest historical newspaper database online, containing more newspaper pages from 1759 to present than any other service.

Every newspaper in the archive is fully searchable by keyword and date, making it easier for you to quickly explore historical content. From Abraham Lincoln to UFOs – if it ever made the news, you can find it here. is adding newspaper pages faster than you can search them – with one newspaper page added every second – that’s over 80,000 images a day, or about 2.5 million pages per month! is a great way to search historical newspapers for mentions of your ancestors. While the archive is only open to registered members, public libraries and K-12 schools, searching through Google bypasses registration, though in a very limited way.

Click on a Google News Archive search results’ link and you are taken to and shown in an inline form of the newspaper text on the page. It’s hard to read and features a very rough OCR (Optical Character Recognition) version of the newspaper text, along with a thumbnail image of the page.

If you have trouble reading it, I recommend you click inside of the inline form, select all the text (Ctrl+A) and copy it (Ctrl+C) and paste it into your text editor or word processor and scale it to a readable font size.

The OCR isn’t always very good. This is one example I found:

CANDIDATE FOR OFFICE IS SPEAKER Man Loses Week’s J Wages On The Way J To Pay Landlady Fred Zimmerman Flays “Madison Ring” In Address Here DISCUSSES TAXES i-o provinces in which V “-tva’ion with a gov- a’.rer ;.ml engineer. The .j P 1 and appoints his r service rules. has an i-v’T iunise of Filipinos is appointed “cv of the United v ff-governor and sec- lilu- instruction also…

A lot of proofing and editing is still required of the OCR documents, so you may have to look closely at the graphic image of the newspaper to identify the missing words.

Google’s new News Archive Timeline search isn’t limited to newspapers. I found legal documents, and many other resources. The search results are arranged by year. Click on the year and you will see the search results within that time period.

I recommend grouping names together in quotes in the search box such as “Wayne Knapp” to limit the search to only those words and not every document with “wayne” and every document with “knapp”.

What I wish the Google News Archive Search would include in their search results is the location of the newspaper. The results indicate the title of the newspaper or document source, which gives clues as to location if you recognize the name of the town, region, or newspaper, but I’d like to see “Oakland Tribune in Oakland, California” as part of the search results.

This is a fascinating new method of searching online historical documents and may help with your ancestor research.

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About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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