7 Newspaper Resources for Family History

Those of you who have done some family history research will agree that newspapers are some of our best family history resources. They provide more than the just the date, they add colour to the story and sometimes you may even get more than you bargained for (a scandalous marriage from the social pages perhaps?)

The best thing is that many of our historical newspapers have been digitised and are available online. This means you can search for a relative’s name without having to scroll through seemingly endless microfilm until you stumble on something interesting.

Here in Australia we are blessed with a comprehensive and free database filled with thousands of newspapers dating back to Australia’s colonisation, all the way to 1954. I am of course talking about Trove.


Image of front page of the "North Australian and Queensland General Advertiser" 10 May 1862

The Trove digitised newspapers service allows free online access to historic Australian newspapers digitised as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program. This is a collaborative program between the National Library of Australia, and the State and Territory libraries to digitise out of copyright newspapers. The service includes newspapers published in each state and territory from the 1800s until the mid 1950s. It is an evolving service with new content added progressively. The service provides full text searching of newspaper articles, which have been scanned from microfilm. Enhancement of the content by users is allowed through correction of text and tagging of articles.

Papers Past – New Zealand National Archives

Front page of "Huia Tangata Kotahi", 22 July 1893, a Maori newspaper started in 1890.

This is a website of the National Library of New Zealand containing digitised pages from New Zealand newspapers and periodicals published between 1839 and 1948. It covers over 100 titles from throughout New Zealand, providing a good source of information about the social and political events of the times and a valuable source of information on life outside the main centres.

Papers Past and Trove are freely available online and accessible to anyone anywhere. The next few newspaper offerings are those we provide to our State Library members under our subscription.

Sydney Morning Herald Archives

Image from the Sydney Morning Herald Archives database

The Sydney Morning Herald Archives contains 820,000 pages in almost 13,000 issues of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, spanning 1 January 1955 to 2 February 1995. All articles, captions and advertisements are fully keyword searchable, and full-text results are returned in an exact digital reproduction of the printed pages as they were originally published. Search birth, death and marriage notices. Explore Australia's history through the big stories of the day.

Irish Newspaper Archive

Image of the front page of the "Irish Independent", 2 January 1905.

Irish Newspaper Archives is the largest online database of Irish newspapers in the world. The archive dates from 1763 to the present. It includes a mix of out of print titles and current titles, providing word-searchable access to articles or full pages. Titles include the Irish Independent (1905 - current), The Freeman's Journal (1763-1924), the Connacht Tribune (1909-2007), the Leitrim Observer (1924-January 1976), the Meath Chronicle (1897-April 2005) and the Southern Star (1892-2006).

British Library Newspapers

Image of front page of the "Poor Man's Guardian", 30 January 1835.

British Library Newspapers is a joint effort between the British Library and Gale to make available searchable, full-text digitised versions of key 19th Century British newspapers. The aim was to select a number of London and regional titles, covering as much of the UK as possible. Titles include the Morning Chronicle, The Examiner and Illustrated Police News and Chartism newspapers. Regional newspapers include: The Northern Echo, The Western Mail, The Newcastle Courant, The Ipswich Journal, and The Bristol Mercury. In all, 48 titles from the nineteenth century are included.

The Illustrated London News

Image of front page of the "Illustrated London News", 30 April 1932.

The Illustrated London News (ILN) Historical Archive gives students and researchers unprecedented online access to the entire run of the ILN from its first publication on 14 May 1842 to its last in 2003. Each page has been digitally reproduced in full colour. Every article and caption is full-text searchable with hit-term highlighting and links to corresponding illustrations.

The Times (London)

Image of front page of "The Times" (London), 22 November 1824.

The Times Digital Archive contains over 200 years’ worth of news from The Times (London), the world’s oldest continuously published newspaper. The entire newspaper is scanned, with all articles, advertisements and illustrations available to be searched in a variety ways. It covers from 1785 up to 2012.

Newspapers are a great gateway into history and family history research. Read our Family history research guide : Newspapers and family history and discover how newspapers can help with family history. Why not pick one of these databases courtesy of us here at State Library and see what stories you can uncover.


Leela Wittmer, Librarian
Visitor & Information Services, State Library of Queensland

More information

Newspapers - /research-collections/information-collections/newspapers

Family history - /research-collections/family-history

Family history research guides - /research-collections/family-history/family-history-research-guides

Membership - /get-involved/become-member

Ask Us - /plan-my-visit/services/ask-us

Upcoming events

Births, deaths and marriages outside Registry dates, Thursday 22 August 2019, 11am-12pm – /whats-on/births-deaths-and-marriages-outside-registry-dates

Facebook ASK US family history hour
Tuesday 27 August 2019, 11am-12pm –https://www.facebook.com/events/680993645697240/

German family history, Monday 16 September 2019, 10-11am (Tickets available from 26 August 2019) - /whats-on/german-family-history


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