OldNews USA – an Online Search of Old Newspapers

OldNews USA is the app that won the RootsTech 2017 Innovator Showdown. It makes it easy to find interesting stories and articles in historical US newspapers, using the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection of over 11 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1943. Quoting from the OldNews web site:

Designed for both genealogists and history enthusiasts, OldNews USA makes getting started with historical newspaper research easier than ever. With OldNews USA, you can quickly discover interesting stories and articles in historical US newspapers, using the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection of over 12 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1963.

With OldNews USA, you begin by entering who or what you are looking for. If you want to find articles about a person, all you need to enter is a name, a date range, and a location.

OldNews USA uses this information to automatically suggest the newspapers that are most likely to contain articles about your person. Furthermore, it automatically creates search suggestions that you can use to populate the advanced search screens, without any additional data entry. The list of search suggestions contains variations of the person’s name, since you never know how the name may appear in the newspaper. All you need to do is select a search suggestion and go!

When you view a newspaper page, you can view each highlighted search term by tapping the screen. The app will automatically zoom in to the next matching term each time you tap the screen. When you review the last search term, the app tells you that you reviewed all matches. When you compare this experience to using a web browser, you will never want to use a web browser for newspaper research again!

Genealogists and historians will love these advanced research features:

  • Enable automatic reseach logging for a Goal, which saves every search, page view, and action to a research log, which can be exported as a csv file for easy import into your favorite spreadsheet app
  • Automatically generated source citation for every page that you save
  • Save your discoveries and citations to DropBox, Google Drive, Evernote, or any other app of your choosing
  • Research dashboard that preserves the context of your research, making it easy to pick up where you last left off

OldNews USA includes a database of all the newspaper titles available on the Chronicling America site. Searching this data is fast, since it is part of the app and always available on your device.

OldNews USA is free to try, including all research features. After a successful search and file save, a one time in-app purchase is required to continue using the app.

I am guessing that about 99% of the results found will be in U.S. newspapers. It normally doesn’t find newspapers outside the U.S.

OldNews USA is a cloud-based application that runs on Android and Chromebook computers. A new version for Apple iOS (iPads, iPhones, and iPod touch systems) is promised but is not yet available. You can save your discoveries and citations to DropBox, Google Drive, Evernote, or any other app of your choosing.

OldNews USA is free to try, including all research features. After a successful search and article save, a one time in-app purchase of $3.99 is required to continue using the app. Details may be found at https://revgenea.com/.

Find your family in old newspapers using OldNews USA, and discover stories that have been lost to history!

10 Comments

Does this only work on phones, and not on a computer?

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    Correct. It is an Android and Chromebook app with an iPhone version still under development. However, the data it uses is available on any kind of computer; Macintosh, Linux, Chromebook, Android, or most anything else. This OldNews USA app is strictly a method of searching the same data on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America collection while using a small screen and also using software made for the task.

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When I tried to download this to my computer, I got this message: Other than some Chromebooks which run the Google Play Store, apps from Google Play can’t be installed on most computers. Try visiting the recommended app store for your device instead:

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Will we be advised when it becomes availabe in other systems such as iphones or desktops? Any estimated timeframe?

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    The iOS version of OldNews USA is nearly complete. Beta testing will start in August, with launch planned for September. I will publish announcements on my website https://revgenea.com and social media, and I will definitely send Dick Eastman complete details. Thank you for your interest in OldNews USA!
    Bill Nelson

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If it only searches Chronicling America, why pay them when I can search for free on a computer? Is $ for the saving and sharing parts, the ease of use on a phone? I do find it hard to narrow my search at Chronicling … does it improve search ability.

Liked by 1 person

The features of the app can save you a lot time, and help you to be successful in your searching. As you note, it is difficult to search on Chronicling America, and you’ll need to narrow your search if you are going to be successful.

Before I developed OldNew USA, I spent hours trying to find articles about my Nelson ancestors, and wasted a lot of time with general searches that returned 1000s of results, but none for my ancestors. I needed to learn how to use all of the advanced search options to narrow the results. OldNews USA automatically generates searches that use the advanced options that I’ve found to be most successful. You can try these search suggestions to learn by example, and easily modify them without reentering all of the search terms each time.

You also will want to figure out which newspapers were published closest to where your ancestors lived and had issues available during the time they lived there. These local newspapers are the most likely to contain articles about your family. This is not an easy task on Chronicling America, but OldNews USA will tell you in seconds. The app will also generate advanced search suggestions using these local papers, which makes it very easy to find what you are looking for.

If you are researching a person, and you enter a name, date range, and the location where your person lived, you may very well find an article about your person using the very first search suggestion that OldNews USA generates for you. Compare that experience to Chronicling America, and I hope you’ll agree that the app is worth a few dollars.

Thanks for the interest!
Bill

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OldNewsUSA not available as MAC app.

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