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.
For an overview of digitized historical newspaper collections at University of Illinois, consult our guide to Historical Newspapers Online. To locate digitized versions of a specific newspaper title, consult the UIUC Newspaper Database.
The major collections of digitized, antebellum American newspapers are:
News in the US was of interest to many people in other parts of the world. Other important nineteenth-century English-language newspapers available in digitized form include:
In addition to these US and international newspapers, many freely available collections, 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.
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 the U.S. Newspaper Directory. You can search the directory by state, county, city, time period, as well as by language and ethnicity. The directory also supports keyword searches, but just remember that the database is a collection of records that describe newspapers, so a keyword search is searching these records, not the newspapers themselves. The U.S. Newspaper Directory identifies extand copies of newspapers, which means that the directory doesn't include newspapers for which no issues have survived to the present.
Two other important sources for identifying antebellum American newspapers are History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 by Clarence Brigham, and American Newspapers, 1821-1936 by Winifred Gregory. Both bibliographies are organized by state and then city. Some states have their own bibliographies, of varying quality, for example: Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879 by Franklin Scott, Missouri Newspapers: When and Where, 1808-1963 by William Howard Taft, or Guide to Wisconsin Newspapers, 1833-1957 by Donald Oehlerts. 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.