While many local papers are disappearing across the country, only to be replaced by national syndicates, or in some cases nothing at all, it’s undeniable that local reporting and access to it are integral in uncovering answers in cold cases—particularly those that predate the internet.
Newspaper stories, photographs, and even access to published public records in these formats can go a long way to find leads and even answers. Not only that, but newspapers can provide context historically, key in local cases in smaller towns, help in clarifying timelines, and most importantly they span locations which can help in connecting facts and cases.
Below is a starting point to aid in research. There are both digital and analog newspaper resources to utilize in your Citizen Detective work. Don’t forget to use Boolean operators when searching through these databases.
NewsBank is a news database resource that provides archives of media publications as reference materials to libraries. This is free to access with a library card.
A series is research databases covering a variety of subjects for students, researchers, and librarians. It is an aggregate of online periodical content, many databases are free, but might require a library card.
Google News Archive
Perfect for finding older clipping and news articles, this is an archive of newspapers from all over the world. Google News Archive Search allows you to search through news articles that date back longer than the 30 days that are typically covered by regular Google News.
There are also subscription-based services, including Newspapers.com and ProQuest.com. You should also consider individual newspaper archives, most articles are accessible for free online.
Your local library will be a great partner in newspaper research. Here you can access microfilmed newspapers—most of the time for free—and even interlibrary loans. Sometimes there are also clipping files available at local libraries. Or in the case of small towns that still have a local paper, newspaper offices may provide access to these archives.

>> Pro-tip: Get to know your local librarian working in public archives—they are often Citizen Detectives too!