There are numerous newspapers sites that could be useful for your genealogy research. Many of them would gladly have you as a paid subscriber. But how do you know which one is worth spending your money on? Here's how to find the newspaper site that's best for you.
Note that I said "best for you." There is no single "best" newspaper site. The site that's best for me may not be the best for you. Here's why:
No newspaper website has all of the newspapers. There is some overlap between the sites, but their coverage does vary. Newspapers.com has different papers than NewspaperArchive which has different newspapers than GenealogyBank.
The best newspaper site for your genealogy is the one that has the newspapers that you need.
(If you don't know what newspapers existed for your ancestor's hometown, check out my post on how to identify those.)
Before You Pay for a Newspaper Website Subscription
If you're thinking about subscribing to a newspaper site and you're interested in U.S. newspapers, check out Chronicling America at the Library of Congress. This free website has more than 12 million pages of digitized, full-text searchable U.S. newspapers. You might find what you need right there (and can leave your credit card in your wallet).
Check out Kenneth Marks' incredible list of available digitized newspapers. Some are free and some are part of a subscription site. The newspaper you need might be free on a library or university website.
If the newspaper you need isn't free somewhere, check with your local public library to see what subscriptions they have. You might have to use a particular subscription at the library (rather than connecting from home), but it can save you some money.
Check the Titles and Years Included
If Chronicling America or other free sites don't have what you're looking for and you're thinking about paying for a subscription somewhere, check what titles the site has and what years it includes. No sense paying for a subscription site if it doesn't have newspapers that will help you!
On Newspapers.com, click on the "Papers" tab near the top of the page. On the new page, you should see a map on the left-hand side of the page. Click on the state you're interested in and you'll get a list of all of the newspapers they have for that state.
NOTE: They may not have all of the newspapers for all of the years listed. Look at the number of pages that title includes. For example, they have the Cass County (Michigan) Republican from 1858-1880. However, there are only 1,248 pages. Even if it's a weekly paper, that isn't very many pages to cover 22 years; there are likely issues that are missing.
On GenealogyBank, scroll down the page to find the map of the U.S. Click on the state you're interested in and you'll get a list of the titles they have and the years they cover.
NOTE: On GenealogyBank, some titles are "Recent Obituaries," which means that it is not the full newspaper; it is only the obituaries. Also, note that any given title could have missing issues from the years listed. Unfortunately, GenealogyBank doesn't list the page count for a specific title, so it is difficult to see how complete their coverage is.
NewspaperArchive is the most cumbersome to determine what titles are available. First, you need to scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click on the link to the state you want. Then you have to click on the city. They also do not indicate the page count for specific titles. However, when you are on a specific newspaper's page, you can use the calendar function under "Browse by Date" to see what is available. For example, even though they say they have the Granville (Ohio) Times from 1880-1987, I can use the year dropdown and see that they do not have any issues between 1955 and 1987.
Newspapers are a "must" in genealogy research. Check what's available for free first. Before you dig into your wallet for a subscription site, dig into what newspapers that site has. No use paying for something that doesn't have what you need.