Have you ever wanted to read a newspaper from 1860, or needed to find an obituary about an ancestor from a century ago?
The Washington State Library can help. The State Library has digital collections of historic newspapers that can be accessed in just a few clicks. The service is free.
One path to these newspapers of the past is through the National Digital Newspaper Program, which is the largest digital newspaper project in U.S. history, sponsored by the Library of Congress and National Endowment of the Humanities. The NDNP’s goal is to digitize pre-1923 issues of newspapers from around the U.S. Two-thirds of the country has already contributed more than 6 million pages to the LOC’s Chronicling America website. Our state has contributed about 200,000 pages so far.
The State Library has participated since 2008 and will continue to work on the program through next year. So far, Washington has contributed 23 newspaper titles from its large microfilm collection, and continues to add more. These issues are full-text searchable and downloadable online at the Library of Congress by looking here.
The State Library has created an online collection of newspapers beginning in 1852 (one year before Washington became a territory), which covers Washington’s territorial and early statehood years. These digitized pages from our microfilm collection have been indexed and are keyword searchable thanks to the efforts of volunteers.
If your historic newspaper search needs to go beyond Washington to the rest of the Northwest, the State Library provides a link to the Pacific Northwest Regional Newspaper and Periodical Index, maintained by the University of Washington. It contains citations from hundreds of newspapers and periodicals as well as monographs, theses, dissertations, scrapbooks, pamphlets and other items dealing with all aspects of life in Seattle, our state and the Northwest dating back to the mid-19th century.
And if you still need more, our State Library is linked to the Oregon State Library’s Oregon Index, which covers Oregon newspapers. In addition, the University of Oregon Library provides a website for Oregon’s historic newspapers.
This is the fourth in a series of blog posts, called “Falling for the State Library” in honor of autumn’s arrival, that we’re doing about the State Library’s many online services and features. The Library is a proud division of the Office of Secretary of State.