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Genealogy at the State Library of Pennsylvania

A guide to resources available to genealogy and family history researchers through the State Library of Pennsylvania.

State Library Newspaper Collection


The State Library collects newspapers from all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Out-of-state newspapers include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today. Our newspaper holdings can be searched using our online catalog. Newspapers can be searched 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.

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.


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.

Too Far Away to come to the State Library?

Ask your library to borrow them for you

  • the State Library loans to libraries and other institutions all over the U.S.
  • make sure that your library has a machine to read the microfilm
  • a request may be up to a maximum of 5 reels of microfilm each reel is approximately one month depending on the newspaper
  • one reel is approximately a month of a newspaper depending on size and frequency of the newspaper

Digital Newspaper Collections