This is a comparison review of the three biggest subscription websites that provide access to thousands of historical newspapers across the United States:
Each newspaper archive has exclusive access to a lot of its content. This means that you need to figure out which site has the most amount of relevant content for your family tree.
Thankfully, they all have a free trial. This will let you decide if a subscription is worthwhile, and what length will be most cost-effective.
To help you out, I’ve created a guide to maximizing your trial. I’ve also got links to our separate in-depth reviews and search tips. But let’s start with a general overview and comparison.
Newspapers.com vs NewspaperArchive vs GenealogyBank
Here is a quick feature comparison of the three websites:
|Other Countries||5 countries||43 countries||No|
|Free Trial||7 days||7 days||7 days|
GenealogyBank is exclusively focused on American newspapers. You may find the international titles of the other two sites to be an added bonus for your family research.
All the companies continue to negotiate licenses and acquire more newspaper titles. The counts of titles in the table above are from 2021.
But the newspaper count doesn’t tell the full story. There may only be a month of issues available online. That’s why you’ll need to do a bit of digging to see if each site has what you need.
All three websites require payment details to access their free trial. If you don’t cancel before the trial is up, your card will be charged for a subscription.
People get understandably worried that they won’t be able to cancel the trial. I can confirm that I’ve tested all three i.e. I’ve had no issues canceling trials on each site.
|Basic Access||~$30 for 6 months||N/A||N/A|
|Full Access||~$60 for 6 months||~$75 for 6 months||~$35 for 6 months *|
|Full Access||N/A||~$140 for 12 months||~$60 for 12 months *|
The prices I quote here are approximate, and each website may run special offers from time to time.
You won’t see these GenealogyBank prices on their sales page. I’ve written more about how to get the best discounts in our in-depth GenealogyBank review. I’ll just say here that they give discounts if you don’t buy at the first price they offer!
How To Decide If A Subscription Will Help Your Research
I advise that you start with a basic review to answer this question:
Does the archive have newspapers that cover the areas and times in which my ancestors and relatives lived?
And then you use the free trial period to answer this question:
Can I find at least eight good articles, notices, or obituaries with my relatives?
Why is 8 the magic number? Because you’ll probably need more than the 7-day trial to follow all the leads and complete your research.
The next sections look at these questions with examples from the different sites. Then I’ll get into each site.
Which Archive Has Newspapers In The Right Areas And Times?
I was researching a branch of my family tree living in Westfield, New Jersey in the early 20th century.
Let’s say that I found an obituary that mentions a bereaved son who lives 20 miles away in Bernardsville and a daughter who lives in Rahway. I want to find out more about them and their families to add to my family tree.
Which archive has the local newspapers?
Each website has a way to browse its titles without having to sign up. I’ve covered how to view it in my detailed reviews:
- publication list on NewspaperArchive
- publication list on GenealogyBank
- this link goes straight to the Newspapers.com title list
I found a local title on each archive:
- NewspaperArchive has issues of the Westfield Leader from 1902-1922.
- Newspapers.com has the Bernardsville News from 1897 – 1987
- GenealogyBank has a short run of a local Rahway newspaper in 1816
GenealogyBank is a fantastic archive, but in this case it may not be great for my New Jersey family branch. It’s always important to check the years that are available in a publication. This particular title only has a few issues from 1816.
Did you notice that NewspaperArchive’s title runs up to 1922? That doesn’t mean that the newspaper folded that year. The Westfield Leader is still going strong!
1922 is about the cut-off point for copyright in the United States, and this archive hasn’t negotiated the publishing rights for the later content.
I know that the family was living in the area into the 1940s. The title on Newspapers.com runs for a century, right up to 1987. Won’t that be a great option?
But Newspapers.com has two levels of subscription, and I’ll bet that the most recent content requires the higher price.
So, now I want to figure out if I can actually find my relatives on either site. And I want to figure that out before I purchase a subscription.
Can You Find At Least 8 Good Articles For Your Research?
Each archive offers a free seven-day trial. If you can only find a handful of useful references on one of the sites, then you may not need more than the trial period for that site.
But any single article could lead to days or weeks of further research. I figure that if you find a mix of at least eight obituaries and articles, you’ll want to extend the free week with at least a month’s subscription.
For example, I found an account of an 18th birthday party with some guests from distant towns. Suddenly, I was on the hunt to establish if these names and places represented new branches for my family tree. And I knew I’d need at least a month on the trail.
You’d be very unlucky if you struck out on finding any relative across all three sites. However, it can happen if all your ancestors lived in very rural areas.
Which Site Has Extra Features For Genealogy Enthusiasts?
Each site has a similar set of features for browsing and searching newspaper content. As well as advanced searching options, you can save and download clippings and full pages to local copies.
But are there extra features for people researching their family trees?
GenealogyBank has some extra non-newspaper collections, like U.S. Census and military records. These are available for free elsewhere, but you may find using the same website to be a convenience.
Newspapers.com vs NewspaperArchive
Both Newspapers.com and NewspaperArchive.com have newspapers from outside the United States.
I took a look at their Irish newspapers as I’m most familiar with that country’s newspaper titles. I will say that neither site has the bigger newspaper titles. Each site has a small collection of some lesser-known publications.
But you may find the content an added bonus.
By the way, my go-to site for Ireland is IrishNewsArchives.com.
If you’re interested in newspapers within the United Kingdom, then check out my in-depth review of the BritishNewspaperArchive. It has a far bigger collection of UK titles than Newspapers.com or NewspaperArchive.
Using The Free Trial To Assess What Subscription You Need
My best advice is to draw up a list or spreadsheet of names, locations, and time periods from your family tree.
Then work quickly through the list by running searches for relevant content.
If you find a relevant obituary or article, don’t stop to research the new leads. Save it or take a clipping, and write a quick note in your list.
It’s very easy to fall down a rabbit hole and spend a full evening researching names mentioned in an obituary.
Do that six times, and you’ve used up your trial without getting a good idea as to whether there’s enough content to make the longer subscription worthwhile.
Instead, make a note of what you’ve found and move on to the next name/place/date combo on your list.
Brief Review Of Newspapers.com
Newspapers.com is a massive newspaper archive owned by genealogy giant Ancestry.com. They set up their separate newspaper site in 2012.
It has the largest collection of local and regional American publications of the big three subscription archives.
We have an in-depth review of Newspapers.com that guides you through using the archive for your genealogy research. Read on for a briefer summary.
Newspapers.com has by far the most confusing subscription model of the three websites.
The other two sites have a single access tier.
In contrast, Newspapers.com has two levels: Basic and Extra. If you pay for a Basic subscription, you don’t get access to a lot of the content.
To add to the complexity, you can choose to pay for access to the newspaper archive through a subscription with the genealogy site, Ancestry.com. This may be more cost-effective if you also want access to Ancestry’s other record archives.
If you need a further breakdown, you can check out our in-depth look at the subscription options for Newspapers.com.
Which Subscription Is Right For You?
The difference between Basic and Extra is that the Basic level generally has access to newspaper issues that are out of copyright. This means up to 1922.
Access to content in American newspapers after 1922 usually requires the Extra subscription tier.
If most of your research is focused on the 19th century, then Basic will be fine for you.
However, the Extra tier gives access to articles and obituaries through the 20th century and more recently. Is that a big deal?
Well, yes. The archive has over 5,600 newspaper titles with content after 1922.
So, if you need 20th-century obituaries, the Extra subscription could give you many months of research material for building out your family tree.
Using The Free Trial
The free trial is 7 days which allows a lot of searching time.
Keep in mind that the free trial is at the Extra level of access. You get full access to all the content in the archive, including 20th and 21st-century articles and obituaries.
So, if you find a treasure trove of 20th-century content then the Extra subscription level will be what you want.
However, if the only relevant content you find is before 1900, then the Basic level will be cost-effective.
- Number of titles: 18,700+ USA publications and another 300 worldwide
- Free trial period: 7 days
- Subscription levels: two different access levels
- International newspapers from Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, and Panama
- Ancestry.com is an accredited member of Better Business Bureau
NewspaperArchive was established in 1999 and is the oldest of the top newspaper archive sites. The archive has over ten thousand U.S. newspaper titles.
That’s maybe a thousand below GenealogyBank in the number of American titles.
However, if you’re interested in international titles, this archive covers by far the largest number of countries. There are a whopping 43 countries represented in mid-2021. I’ve put a list into the features section below.
Unlike the rather confusing dual-access tiers of Newspapers.com, the NewspaperArchive website only has one access tier. Your subscription gives access to all content.
You can choose between three different subscription terms: monthly, six months, or twelve months.
The six and twelve-month terms work out as significantly cheaper than a rolling monthly payment for the same period.
So, you just need to figure out if you can exhaust the content within one month. Or is there enough material years of research?
Using The Free Trial
The free trial gives you full access to browse and search the content for seven days.
In my full review of NewspaperArchive, I discussed some poor customer service in the history of this company. Customers found it difficult to cancel their free trial and were surprised to see charges on the credit card.
However, the company was purchased in 2020 by an investment firm and new management was put in place. You can read about the ownership here.
Since the purchase, the complaints around free trials have ceased. And I can confirm that I tested this in June 2021.
I took out a free trial with my credit card, and canceled it on the 6th day of use. I received an email within minutes confirming the cancellation was complete.
- Number of titles: 11,500+ USA publications and another 3000 worldwide
- Free trial period: 7 days
- 44 countries covered (at time of writing):
More About NewspaperArchive
If you want an in-depth look at this site with extra tips for getting the best out of it, you can check out our detailed NewspaperArchive review.
We also have a list of top tips for using the search features on NewspaperArchive.
And if you’re interested in learning about the company behind the website, we’ve got an article that looks at the ownership of NewspaperArchive.
The GenealogyBank website was launched in 2006. The parent company, NewsBank, has been indexing newspapers since 1972.
Unlike the other two sites, GenealogyBank is focused almost exclusively on U.S. newspaper titles.
I’m sure you’ve encountered sellers who offer you a lower price as you walk away from a purchase. And as you’re exiting the door, they’re yelling out an even lower price.
GenealogyBank is one of those companies. There is no reason to pay the headline price for their subscriptions. Of course, you’re not pushing a door handle. You’re hitting X on a pop-up screen!
I put a walkthrough in my full GenealogyBank review to show how to get these lower offers.
Do not pay $99 for a year! When I was “forcing” the website to give me better discounts, I got the price down to under $60 for a year, or under $35 for six months.
Wait, you don’t see a six-month option on the website? That came through on an email a few days after I had “walked away”.
I’m not a fan of these tactics. But the bottom line is that you can get a subscription for a very low price.
Using The Free Trial
GenealogyBank offers a seven-day free trial. This gives full access to the newspaper and obituary content.
When you’re doing an initial review of the newspaper coverage for an area or town, be sure to check the number of issues that are available.
Sometimes the archive only has a year or even just a month of content for a particular title. This will be clear when you check the listings page (you can follow my steps in the full review).
When you’re using the free trial to run searches, our article with search tips and tricks will help you.
- Number of titles: 13,000+ USA publications
- Free trial period: 7 days
- Accredited member of Better Business Bureau
More About GenealogyBank
We have an in-depth GenealogyBank review that has strategies for getting the most from the archive.
You can also check out our list of top tips for using the search features on GenealogyBank.
And if you want to know more about the company behind the archive, you’ll find more in our article on who owns GenealogyBank.
1 thought on “Best U.S. Newspaper Archives For Genealogy Research”
Very detailed helpful article & comparison. Thank you!