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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

American Newspapers, 1800-1860

A guide to understanding and using antebellum American newspapers.

Digitized Antebellum Newspapers

Unfortunately, there is no single place where you can find digitized historical newspapers. Some newspapers have been digitized by libraries, museums, and historical societies, and made freely available on the Internet; others have been digitized by commercial publishers, and are available only through libraries or personal subscriptions. The History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library at the University of Illinois has an outstanding collection of digitized historical newspapers, some freely available, and others available only to patrons of the University of Illinois Library. Even if you aren't affiliated with the University of Illinois, you are welcome to visit us in Champaign. Visiting patrons have full access to our world-class collection--not only of digitized historical newspapers, but also newspapers on microfilm and our original print collections. It's a good idea to contact us first, to plan your visit.

For an overview of our digitized historical newspaper collections at University of Illinois, consult this guide:

The major commercial collections of digitized, antebellum American newspapers are:

Check with your local library for availability.

The single largest freely available collection of digitized, antebellum American newspapers is:

Many freely available collections, however, are published out of libraries, museums, and historical societies. Wikipedia maintains a list of digitized newspaper collections around the world, including a fairly extensive directory of U.S. newspapers.

Antebellum Newspapers in Print and on Microfilm

The number of newspapers that have been digitized, though large and growing larger every year, represents a small fraction of the total number of newspapers published during this period. To identify antebellum American newspapers, a good starting place is:

Two other important sources for identifying antebellum American newspapers are:

Both bibliographies are organized by state, and then city.

Some states have their own bibliographies, of varying quality, for example:

A good way to find these bibliographies is to browse in our Library's Online Catalog under the subject heading American newspapers --Illinois, or American newspapers --Missouri, or American newsapers subdivided by whatever state you are researching.

There are still other specialized bibliographies:

If you're looking for newspapers from a specific area, or published for a specific group, contact us and we'll find out if there's a bibliography available.