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A Restarted Google Newspaper Archive?

This week Google started to give more prominence to its historic newspaper archive. After an absence of almost ten months, there is even the potential that Google may once again restart digitizing more historic newspapers. If it happens, this would be big news for the genealogy community. Even if it doesn’t happen, genealogists now have better access to one of the best free collections of historic newspapers on the internet.



Google runs one of the largest free newspaper archives in the world. It contains some 2,000 historic newspapers. It is a treasure trove for anyone looking for their ancestors. However, in May 2011, Google quietly stopped its historic newspaper archive project.

As discussed in our article The Death of Google News Archive, it was ironically complaints and threatened lawsuits from newspaper publishers that led to the shutting down of the project. The popularity of the Apple iPad as a publishing platform was also a contributing factor in killing the project. However, it appears that the playing field has changed in the last ten months and Google is once again giving prominence to its historic newspaper archive.

Alabama Citizen newspaper 1913
The Alabama Citizen newspaper 8 November 1913. From the Google Newspaper Archive.

One of the leading opponents of the Google archived newspaper project was the Murdoch news organization, which complained bitterly about it and tried to get it shut down. Events since then in the UK have shown the Murdoch organization has its own transparency and openness issues.

Another factor has been the recent change to Google’s privacy policy, as discussed in the article Five New Google Search Tricks. The standardization and sharing of user information across Google’s some 80 different products and platforms has caught the attention of European privacy commissions. European privacy advocates have expressed serious reservations over the new Google privacy policy.

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