There are quite a few possiblities when it comes time to begin searching for newspapers in the area's where your ancestors lived. A really good place to begin is in that city itself - especially if you live in the area or live nearby. Check with the main branch of the local library. Usually they have the older issues on microfilm.
Nothing really compares to just sitting down and reading the newspapers of your ancestor. Pick the time around a wedding or important occassion to start your search, that gives you something to focus on. Then start reading. Birthday's, weddings, baby births are all good reasons to start reading as well. The social pages are a really good place to start. This is not the time for scanning quickly thru the pages, you want to take your time and just read thru. You'll be glad you did.
If you do not live nearby and can not get to the area where your ancestor lived, then perhaps an interlibrary loan could be arranged. This is usually done thru YOUR library, where a form is filled out and sometimes a small fee is to be paid. They bring in the time frame or issues you want to look at on microfilm and you have a window of time in which to read the film and then it gets returned. You will have to check with your local library to get the details on that.
Another option if visiting the area of your ancestor is not an option there's always the internet.
The websites I am going to mention here are for "Pay" sites. It will cost you to use these sites, however if you can not get to the area where your ancestor lived, this may be your best option. I am not advocating that you run out & buy yourself subscriptions to these sites, most do offer trial subscriptions - read the policy very well before you commit, know the rules on how to cancel and make sure you are well within the bounds when you do cancel.
Besides knowing the rules for canceling your subscription (trial or otherwise) also make sure you know what the holdings of the site are. Why pay for a site that doesn't have the papers you need for the time frames you want? Make sure you do your homework so that you don't sign up for a site that has nothing you need. Also check to see if they have different plans, maybe you don't need a years subscription, maybe six months would be better. Do your homework before you plop down the plastic or write the check.
- Ancestry.com - has both newspapers & a very big obituary collection
- Newspaperarchive.com - allows you to view a portion of the obit and then if you want the rest you pay to get it.
- Footnote.com - site also has lots of military records as well.
- Genealogybank.com - biggest advantage this site has is that the collection is extensive and goes back into the 1700's. Something that not all of these sites can boast.
All of these sites have search engines on them allowing you to search by surname. However, my past experience shows that you can NOT depend on these search engines for everything. If you are searching for information on a wedding or other event, take the time to manually search the papers for information - I usually go as much as two weeks after the event in my searches. Keep in mind that if you ask for a Mary Smith in the search engine and her obituary or whatever has her as Mrs. John Smith you may not find her. So a manual search may be in order.
There are other sites that have newspapers on them, I have given you the top four in my opinion.
As with your software and other issues in genealogy I encourage you to explore ALL your options, find the one that works best FOR YOU, and then work it! You'll be amazed at what you can find when you take off the blinders and find the good stuff!