Anyone who knows me, knows that I love using old newspapers to discover the lives of my ancestors. I absolutely love finding the name of one of my family members in the pages of newspapers that were current to their lives. I have found blurbs that announce visits to a sister, aunt, or other relatives and friends. Other times, it's been a marriage announcement that pin-pointed an actual date for which I had only the month. And, of course, who doesn't like finding an obituary or birth announcement that contains a clue to a brick wall? I just love the unexpectedness and surprise element of using those old newspapers!
Now, there are subscription sites that you can join. I subscribe to GenealogyBank, Newspaper Archives, and Ancestry which all give access to old newspapers. There is a lot of overlap in what each site offers, and I will soon be needing to decide which ones to keep at the end of my subscriptions. But...if you are looking for free sites, I have one that I use all the time.
Chronicling America is sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program. At this time, the newspapers cover the years 1860 through 1922 and are only from the states of Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The goal is to eventually have every state and US Territory represented.
Even if you are not one of the lucky ones who have ancestors in the currently represented states, you shouldn't ignore this site. You would be surprised at how many newspapers published news from states other than their own. I have found Ohio news regarding my ancestors in newspapers in West Virginia and beyond.
The same applies to hometown newspapers. Check for towns that are in close proximity to one another. A lot of my ancestors were from the small Ohio River town of Ripley. Unfortunately, the Ripley Bee and other local newspapers are not a part of Chronicling America. However, there are several newspapers from another small Ohio River town in Kentucky called Maysville. I have found numerous articles and blurbs with interesting news about those Ripley family members in the Maysville papers.
So, if you are like me and you like to use old newspapers to round out your family history, try Chronicling America. I think you will enjoy the experience!