Montana Historical Society

Big Sky. Big Land. Big History.

Newspaper Digitization FAQs

More than 810,000 pages from over 110 newspapers available on two, freely accessible web sites. MONTANA NEWSPAPERS contains full-text searchable newspapers from 1883 to 2015. Chronicling America contains a different set of digitized newspapers dated 1865-1922.
MONTANA NEWSPAPERS contains a discrete set of newspapers dated 1883-2015. There is no overlap between the two sites.
The National Digital Newspaper Program funded this digitization work. Until 2016, their guidelines restricted content to pre-1923 papers because this content is in the public domain and can be freely reproduced. In 2016, the program opened to newspapers published in 1923 and later.

From 2009 to 2015, the grant-funded Montana Digital Newspaper Project was directed by an advisory board of historians, educators, and journalists. The board completed three rounds of a detailed selection process, factoring in geographic representation, temporal coverage, and research value. These digitized newspapers were submitted to the Library of Congress web site, Chronicling America.

In 2016, the Montana Historical Society launched a new, for-fee newspaper digitization service for libraries and other organizations around the state. For more information on having a newspaper digitized and added to the site, please visit MONTANA NEWSPAPERS.

The most efficient way to digitize a newspaper is to start with the microfilm copy of the paper. These rolls of 35mm film are run through a special scanner, which digitally captures every page at a rate of more than 200 pages per minute. This is much faster than digitally photographing the printed original page by page, and it produces more consistent results.
We wish we could. Based on our experience, we estimate that digitizing all of the Society's newspaper holdings would keep our staff busy for several decades! Having said that, we are committed to improving access to Montana's rich newspaper history and we will continue to grow the content at MONTANA NEWSPAPERS
There are two ways to find this information. (1) The Library of Congress maintains a comprehensive and continually updated web resource, called the U.S. Newspaper Directory. To search, click "Select State" and choose Montana. Select other criteria, such as county or city, then click Search at bottom right. (2) You may find an older resource, A Union List of Montana Newspapers in Montana Repositories (PDF), easier to use, however, it is not comprehensive for 1970-present. To search, wait for the PDF to open fully, then press CTRL+F. Note that these resources list newspapers that have been catalogued by a library; there were published in Montana a few titles that did not survive long enough to be catalogued and therefore will not be found in these resources.
Yes. The National Digital Newspaper Program supports newspaper digitization in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. See a list of participating states.