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Newspaper Research Guide

Pennsylvania Newspapers

One of the gems of the State Library is the Pennsylvania newspaper collection. The library collects newspapers from all 67 counties of Pennsylvania. Out-of-state newspapers include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today. All newspapers are organized and can be searched on the online catalog by the city and county of publication.

The library does not have room to keep all the newspapers in a paper form, so many of the papers are on microfilm. If the library is not able to purchase microfilm for the newspaper we keep the original paper. The State Library's collection of historic and current newspapers is comprised of more than 100,000 microfilm reels and over 3,000 bound volumes. Currently, the State Library receives approximately 126 newspapers, including all the major dailies published in Pennsylvania and at least one newspaper from each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. 

The State Library's earliest Pennsylvania newspaper is a December 22, 1719 issue of the American Weekly Mercury. This newspaper is reputed to be the first newspaper published in the middle colonies, and the fourth in order of time, published in America. 

To search for a specific newspaper in catalog, please follow the instructions below. Access to historic newspapers from the Rare Collections Library may be restricted due to their condition. Please contact the Main reference number (717) 783-5950 for contact information.

Pennsylvania Historic Newspapers

The State Library of Pennsylvania's digitized copies of historical Pennsylvania newspapers can be found in the AccessPA DigitalRepository.
Currently you can browse issues of the following newspapers, among others: http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/search/collection/sstlp-newsp
  • Christian Observer (Philadelphia) 1846-1844
  • Lancaster Intelligencer 1833-1852
  • Lewistown Republican 1840-1844
  • Mansfield Advertiser 1911-1929
  • Marietta Register 1883-1890
  • Mariettian - 1858-1860
  • Marietta Advocate and Farmers' and Mechanic's intelligencer, 1833-1835
  • Marietta Pioneer, and the Pioneer (Marietta) 9/1827-9/1828, 9/26/1828-1/8/1830
  • Mount Pleasant Journal: 4/26/1882 - 12/31/1893, 2/18/1898 - 12/27/1922
  • Pioneer and County Advertiser (Marietta) 9/27/1826 - 2/2/1827
  • Potter County Journal (Coudersport) 1897-1898
  • State's Advocate (Milton) 1826-1829
  • Sun (Philadelphia) 9/11/1844, 6/1847 - 8/1847
  • Whig State Journal (Harrisburg) 5/20/1851
In cooperation with the Pennsylvania State University Libraries and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State Library of Pennsylvania also participated in the various Pennsylvania Newspaper projects that have been organized over the last several decades. The digital products of those projects can be found in the Chronicling America project.
 

Pennsylvania Digitized Newspaper Directory

The State Library will begin hosting an informal guide to historical Pennsylvania newspapers that have been digitized at the Directory of Digitized Pennsylvania Historical Newspapers. (Excel)
 
This information represents Pennsylvania newspapers known to exist in a digital format; however there may be more newspaper titles and dates that were not identified in the preparation of this list. The State Library invites libraries and historical societies to contribute to this directory by contacting us with additional information which will be used for periodic updates.
 
This listing is not meant to be the definitive source but rather an evolving document that will be updated periodically when new information becomes available.
 
The first page of this guide contains digitized Pennsylvania newspapers that are freely accessible on the web and provides a link to the source of the newspaper images.
 
The second page contains titles that are available through paid subscriptions to databases and also indicates whether those databases are available in the State Library in Harrisburg.
 
Note: This guide is not intended to cover contemporary Pennsylvania newspapers that are made available through electronic feeds to various database companies or to the internet.

Searching for Newspapers in the State Library of Pennsylvania Catalog

How do I find out what the State Library has?

After you click on this phrase you will get a search screen with three lines.

  • Type in the word “newspapers” in the first space (make sure it is plural).
  • Place your cursor in the second section and type in the name of the city
  • Type the name of the newspaper in the third space 
  • Make sure that the radio button at the top is set to "State Library catalog"
  • Scroll down and click on the search button.
If you want to search the whole county follow the above directions, except on the second section put in the name of the county (i.e. Lancaster County) be sure to type in the word county and put quotation marks around the phrase so the computer searches for it as a phrase. 
 
I have the list now how do I find what I want?
 
On the next page that comes up, there will be an area on the right-hand side of page that says Sort by, click on the drop down arrow and click on Date-oldest or Date-newest.  This will put the results in chronological order. 
 
Remember that newspapers are messy in that they change titles, owners, places they are published and who publishes them. Every time something has changed the library creates a new record. You may have to check through a couple of titles to find what you want. Once you find a newspaper you want to discover about click on the title of the newspaper. This will give you further information about the newspaper and what the State Library has.
  • Volume holdings – this tells exactly what the library owns, what format and the years we have 
  • Checked out – this tells if the newspaper is currently available for viewing or out on Interlibrary loan

Too Far Away to come to the State Library?

Many of our titles held on microfilm are available through interlibrary loan.  The exception to this is the current two years of the following titles: Allentown Morning Call, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
 
You may go to your local library and have them ask the State Library for the microfilm through interlibrary loan. The State Library will lend up to five reels of microfilm to a patron at one time. A reel may cover any time between parts of a month to a whole year depending on how often the paper was published. Check with your local library on the availability of the microfilm you want. While the State Library does not charge for this service, you should check with your local library about their interlibrary loan policy and availability of a microform reader.