04 February 2008 by Published in: Research and Writing 15 comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time combing through old newspapers for material pertinent to our Monocacy, Fort Stevens, and Johnson-Gilmor Raid project. As I mentioned here the other day, I found a lot of good material at the Ohio Historical Society going through reels of microfilm.

Today, I spent a fair amount of this morning digging through on-line archives of Civil War-era newspapers, and I wanted to share those sites with you. There is a tremendous amount of material available for free, and anyone interested in doing this sort of research should be aware of what’s available.

First is the granddaddy of them all, the New York Times. Until last year, the Times charged for access to its archives. However, those archives are now available for free here. Every article back to 1851 is available for free here, in full text format, and fully searchable. Needless to say, there is quite literally a ton of great material available here.

Another very useful source is the Brooklyn Eagle. The Brooklyn Public Library has digitized every issue from 1841 through 1902, all of which are fully searchable and available for free here. The Eagle often contains very useful information, and I found a number of good articles there today.

Penn State University has digitized a number of Pennsylvania’s Civil War-era newspapers here. They include The Philadelphia Press, the Bellefonte Democratic Watchman, the Columbia Spy, the Franklin Repository of Chambersburg, the Erie Observer, the Gettysburg Compiler, the Huntingdon Globe, the Waynesboro Village Record, and the Wellsboro Agitator. I found a ton of really useful material in these papers today, none of which has ever been used in any other treatment of these events.

The Library of Congress has also begun a program to digitize American newspapers. These are less useful, though, because only those articles after 1900 are available, and only the newspapers from a handful of states are presently available. The Library of Congress intends to further expand the program, and then it will become a really useful tool.

NewspaperArchive.com is another very useful site, but it’s not one that I’ve used previously. It appears to be a pay-to-play site, so I’m going to have to determine whether it’s worth the expenditure. However, it has a very large collection of available obscure newspapers, and it looks very promising. I will have to spend some more time there, familiarizing myself with the online collection there before deciding whether to subscribe.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 04th Feb 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Both the Richmond Daily Dispatch

    and the Jacksonville Republican

    are online as well. Truly the last unexplored information resource, but too bad they don’t yet have all the issues to include postwar reminiscences.

  2. Mon 04th Feb 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks, Fred. I had meant to include the Richmond Daily Dispatch, and flat out forgot about it.

    I wasn’t aware of the Jacksonville paper. Thanks for the tip.


  3. Mike Peters
    Tue 05th Feb 2008 at 1:13 am


    Thanks for the Brookyn Eagle & NY Times URLs. Should help with my Zouave research.


  4. Tue 05th Feb 2008 at 10:34 am

    Eric – I’ve used the newspaperarchive.com site for two or three years now. I find it very useful.


  5. Tue 05th Feb 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Also, the GAR Museum’Library in Philadelphia has digitized the *Philadelphia Sunday Transcript* for 1860-1865:

    http://www.garmuslib.org/ (scroll down for links to individual years)

    Jim Schmidt

  6. Dave Morehouse
    Tue 05th Feb 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Do you have a URL for the Penn State website?

  7. Tue 05th Feb 2008 at 5:00 pm


    There’s a link to it in the body of the post. Just click on the link.


  8. Rob Wick
    Tue 05th Feb 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I was on NewspaperArchive myself for a year and it wasn’t as useful to me, but that was more because I have dial-up and not broadband. I did find some articles on Conger’s father from the 1820s and some on Conger when he was in Montana, but for me to say I’ve gone through the relevant papers of each era will mean hours of sitting in front of microfilm (which fortunately, I enjoy).


  9. Wed 06th Feb 2008 at 11:56 am

    Dear Sir ,
    February 6th is E.B. Stuart’s birthday ! “I would rather
    die than be whipped !”
    all for the the old flag ,
    David Corbett

  10. Wed 06th Feb 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Wish someone would do National Tribune and Philadelphia Weekly Times. Both were veteran’s newspapers that published a great deal of useful material.

    BTW, Eric, The Defenses of Washington is now available on Google books.

  11. Sam Elliott
    Wed 06th Feb 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Newspaper Archive is sort of hit and miss, although they add new material often. Lots of newspapers from the North during the Civil War era, not as many from the South.

    Other services that many can access at their university library is Proquest, and another is something entitled Historical Newspaper Database, or something like that.

    I agree with you, CW era newspapers (and actually later ones, with reminiscences, etc) are quite rich.

  12. Wed 06th Feb 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Rob and Sam,

    Thanks for your comments to Eric’s post…I’m a big fan of Newspaper ARchive myself, but it definitely takes some patience, flexibility, and browsing.

    I don’t think their OCR is top notch, so many simple search terms are entirely missed, even though I *know* they are there. For instance, a search of “Monocacy” in 1864 gives NO hits(!) but a look at any July 1864 paper will show that it’s there…I think sometimes you just have to browse as if it was microfilm…at least it’s at your fingertips instead of the library.

    Jim Schmidt

  13. Lee White
    Thu 07th Feb 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I have about five articles from the Macon (GA) Weekly Telegraph about Monocacy, email me your address and Ill send them your way.


  14. Billy Markland
    Wed 12th Mar 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Eric, The Colorado Digitalization Project has scanned many frontier-era Colorado newspapers. This likely will not be of use for your current project but you or others may find it handy in the future.


    After hunting up the URL, I see the name has been changed but you still have the Colorado newspapers. Also, check out the links at the bottom of the page.


  15. Wed 20th Aug 2008 at 10:16 am

    Dear Eric…

    Please get in touch because I’d like to get you set up with a complimentary membership. Plus beg you to occasionally write something and we’ll put a link to your site in the article..

    Thanks, Paul

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