Review of Newspapers.com

Ancestry recently opened a new site, Newspapers.com.  It is similar to other newspaper sites like GenealogyBank and NewspaperArchive.  So do we gain anything from another newspaper archive site?

Newspapers.com has over 800 newspapers.  For comparison, GenealogyBank claims 6100+ newspapers and NewspaperArchive over 5,000 newspapers.  The free Chronicling America has 801 titles.  So if you are just choosing a service then Newspapers.com is at a disadvantage because of its weaker coverage.

Another source for comparison is Ancestry.com itself, which also has a newspaper archive, in this case with over 1,000 titles.  Looking at a few examples from Ancestry, they don’t have the same set of titles.  There are some overlapping ranges but other things that are just different.  So what’s the point of Newspapers.com?

My theory is that Ancestry is trying to get more subscription sources.  Just as Fold3 could have been pulled into the Ancestry.com database but is kept as a different service, Newspapers.com provides possible new subscriptions.  While Ancestry.com gains from having a huge database, after a while the financial benefits of adding more records diminish.  By putting content in separate web sites, Ancestry gets new revenue streams, both from people who don’t want to pay for Ancestry along with some who want the extra records.

Searching

Newspapers.com lets you search on the following criteria:

  • words
  • place
  • time range
  • when added to database

The word search appears to look for a page with some of the entered words.  Putting more than one word in quotes is supposed to limit the search to words that are next to each other, but in practice it also finds pages where the words are far from each other, if they are all on the page at all.    As an example, a search for “Frances McGovern” included hits for articles about George McGovern with no Frances highlighted at all.  This is annoying at it wastes time giving a lot of non-helpful pages.  For comparison, GenealogyBank does not have the ability to look for exact phrases, but NewspaperArchive does and it works well.  Both of the other services also let you exclude words as well.

A final comparison is cost.  Newspapers.com costs $79.95 a year.  GenealogyBank costs $69.95 a year.  Oddly, I can’t find an annual cost for NewspaperArchive.  I know what I paid but I can’t find the subscription price posted anywhere.

So overall Newspapers.com seems to be a weak way to make some extra money for Ancestry.  It doesn’t have many titles compared to other sites, the search tools are inadequate, and it is more expensive than GenealogyBank.  I can only think of one reason to subscribe, and that is if they are the only service with the newspapers you need.

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16 Responses to Review of Newspapers.com

  1. Mom says:

    Thanks for the tip. Im embarassed to admit that I had only heard of 2 of these. Has anyone run across the old Louisville Courier Journal ?
    Kassie aka “Mom”

  2. GenealogyBank has the Weekly Courier-Journal from 1879-1889. I checked the other four sites and none of them had it.

  3. Ancestry.com says:

    Pretty awesome looking site. Can’t see one Newspaper a result without registering though. At least give me a taste!

  4. Thank you for the great comparison. I was looking at adding them to my subscription ‘list’ but think I”ll hold off. Also, I believe worldvitalrecords.com uses the NewspaperArchives database. Not sure – but something I read awhile back eluded to that.
    Regards,
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  5. Pat Clauser says:

    I subscribed to genealogy bank for a year and got everything they had about my family. So I’m going to tell ancestry I’m not interested in their offer since you review indicates they won’t have anything that I haven’t already seen.

  6. Peggy says:

    Do any of these newspaper sites list the newspapers (and dates) that they hold before you purchase a subscription?

  7. Diana Clevenger-Stephens says:

    Thank you for this review. I’m an able researcher, but my week trial membership of Newspapers.com was a big disappointment (used it for three days and cancelled it today). As you mentioned, the search engine was weak and spotty and the newspaper selection was limited. I’m going to try Newspaper Archives for three months. It has a much more impressive list of newspapers.

  8. Samuel Robbins says:

    My experience with newspapers.com was similar to yours, Diana. I tried it and cancelled it the same day because of the limited information available. I was surprised today, then, when I received an email informing me that my credit card had been charged for a year’s subscription.
    I sent an email to the company asking them to reverse this charge and intend to dispute it with the credit card company if they don’t. A cautionary tale.

  9. Shirley D'Aloisio says:

    I upgraded my ancestry.com to the new level which includes both fold 3 website and newspaper.com website. But I can’t figure out how to log into both site without paying again. I can’t seem to get ahold of anyone with the answer. If ancestry.com is having these two websites as part of their package, then once ancestry.com starts taking our money out, then we should be able to log on fold3 and newspaper.com without having to call each company. I am about ready to cancel my upgrade.

  10. Joe Michalak says:

    What really matters is whether or not the database provider has the newspapers one needs. Newspapers.com is the only source for the central California coastal community in which I live. The trade off is a less than optimum search experience which is probably more a factor of the limitations of OCR technology than anything else. Yes, I would like to see boolean searching, using “and” “or” “not” capabilities. Is that ever going to happen? Probably not. What Newspapers.com needs to do is honestly inform users what years are actually covered by the newspapers they index. For example, they claim to cover from 1884-1964 for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, but when I look beneath the covers there are huge gaps. They knew this when the loaded the data, but deliberately buried this information. That’s not ethical. So, before you buy, check the actual dates of coverage by using the browse function, and scroll the actual dates for every newspaper you’re interested in. Caveat emptor!

  11. Jennyalogist says:

    How did you cancel your account? I am trying to cancel mine, but their site does not give me the option, that I can see. I tried contacting customer service, but the note there says it might take them two days to get back to me, which is after the next billing cycle starts . . .

  12. alarob says:

    I just started a trial today after finding that Newspapers.com had some early 19th-century newspapers I’m interested in. So far I have found that connections to the database have failed more often than they have succeeded, although my laptop has plenty of RAM available and other web services are quick. The “new viewer” they are working on fails to load.

    Quite aside from the self-serving business model, the poor performance is enough to force me to abandon the service. Ancestry.com obviously isn’t investing enough in infrastructure. I don’t enjoy paying greedy corporations. So I feel encouraged to avoid signing up for any Ancestry services, no matter how they are branded.

  13. Charles says:

    Great, honest and accurate review. I would just add that the Customer Support at newspapers.com (which I assume is the same as ancestry.com) leaves a lot to be desired.

  14. Karen says:

    You can find the pricing info for newspaperarchives.com by clicking on help at the top of the right hand side of the home page, find frequently asked question and click on answers and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on sign up today. The page it takes you to has the various plans and their prices. 6 months unlimited is $99.95 one month $29.95.

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