Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Newspapers.comPeter Drinkwater addressed the topic, “The Scoop on” Drinkwater is with who owns and operates

Drinkwater learned the hard way that a presenter should show up early to check out the room before presenting. I know. I know. I’ve been there too and lived to regret it. He certainly did.

There was no Internet signal in the room. He’d prepared slides as a backup, but the slide deck was incompatible with the software on his Mac. He didn’t have a dongle that connected his Mac to the projector. Once he got a dongle, his backup Internet source was too slow to do much.

But Drinkwater is a great presenter and forged ahead with great information.

About two years ago realized that their newspapers on were not being found. OCR doesn’t work very well on newspapers, so results weren’t surfacing well. The website works best with fielded record collections. So they started with about 20 million pages, about half of them from Those who built the site came from Fold3.

They have over 68 million today. They add about 2 to 3 million more pages a month. Over time they will add all the newspapers that has online.

They are often asked how their content differs from other newspaper websites. There are three ways to find out.

One way to see is the browse page. At the top, click on Browse. Click country, then state, and then city and it will list all the papers in that city. Click on the paper and it shows the years. Then click month and date. Browse page

Another way is the papers page. At the top, click on Papers. Sort or narrow by typing words for the title, by dragging date sliders, or by clicking on the map. Note that coverage can vary greatly between papers, some having as little as a couple of pages. Papers page

A third method is a map that shows pins for each newspaper location. From the previous page, click on Map next to the title, All Newspapers. map page

Q. Can you save something to Yes. Click on the bright green button.

Q. Can you save it to your hard drive? Yes.

Registering on the site for free will give you better results. It takes just an email address and a password. The Save/notify feature can be used to notify you by email when new matches show up.

Q. Do you have international papers? Just a few. Some in London. A couple elsewhere.

The OCR search process compares just a bunch of words. You’re not searching for names, per se, but for words. The search system is smart enough to list at the top the pages whereon the words occurred the most.

For names that are also common words, like Fair Milton, try putting quotes around the name, with and without middle name or initial.

The search results can be narrowed in the same way as the newspaper list. The map is a “heat map” and the darkness indicates the number of matches for that state. The date range graph has bars for each year range; the height indicates the number of matches. The search results show snippets. You can narrow by the date the newspaper was added to the site, which is nice for searching newspapers that have been added since the last time you checked.

You can specify a plus/minus range around a date.

Q. Can you limit searches to African American papers? No. We only have a couple. We also have a few foreign language papers, but can’t limit the search to just them.

A little known hint about the viewer page: Double-click zooms in. Shift-double-click zooms back out. The viewer was started from the Fold3 viewer, so it works very similarly.

Q. When you add major features to the site, do you notify people? We are terrible at notifying users. They notify using their blog, Facebook, Twitter, and monthly emails. (And I thought he was serious about not notifying people.)

An annual subscription is $79.95 for a year. It is half price for Fold3 or subscribers. Use the same email address and the discount will be given automatically. The new all-inclusive World Explorer Plus subscription includes, but is only available monthly. It may be cheaper to buy an annual subscription with the half-price discount.

From the viewer you can print or download, whole or a portion of the image, and in JPEG or PDF format. PDF format includes a source citation. You can also publish a clipping that anyone can view for free.

You can mix browsing and searching. So if you browse to a state, when you perform a search it searches just that state.

While a death certificate is located in just the one jurisdiction, a news story about a death might be reported in many places, depending on how interesting the circumstances were.

Your profile page is public. You can follow other people and get notices when they clip new things. You can make initial contact with them without knowing their email address, but they will be given yours.

Given all the technical hurdles, Drinkwater made a good go of a bad situation.


  1. Huh. I've been debating a sub to for quite a while. Nowhere did I see any mention that it's owned by Ancestry, and NOWHERE is it noted that "It is half price for Fold3 or subscribers." That's a pretty serious omission, given Ancestry's top-flight marketing machine.

    They've made the sale... but only thanks to Ancestry Insider. I'd ask for a commission. ;)

  2. I am an ancestry subscriber, I'm a little confused why I would need to pay anything extra for information that should be on ancestry, instead of them owning many other companies all tied with ancestry that they forward you to all that I get to pay to get information.

  3. when I first joined ancestry years ago, ALL information was available. Then, bit by bit information was unavailable except through additional paid services, ie: fold3 and by this, I did not renew my subscription. I may renew periodically, just to update info , but it certainly is irritating that all the sites are "owned" by ancestry. Its just another way to nickel and dime their subscribers.

  4. I agree with the last two comments. I've been an Ancestry subscriber for well over a decade. I've participated in helping to build its databases by correcting misinformation and by posting a family tree. Every year I've been somewhat annoyed that non-subscribers are seduced with various marketing ploys such as reduced rates or limited free access, etc, while long term subscribers are never offered a gift for their loyalty. Now, as we see, elements of the company's previous services are being peeled off one by one to become optional fee based add-ons. I, for one, am very distressed by the practices that appear to be taking hold and I do not intend to renew my annual subscription as a direct result. My research needs that suggest ancestry can be fully accomplished on a short-term as needed basis. While has broad available resources and is simple to use, there are many excellent genealogical research avenues available online.

  5. I've been an ancestry subscriber for several years, and a subscriber of for a couple of years. I've never had an automatic discount, and when I emailed Ancestry to see if they offered discounts for Ancestry subscribers to their other sites like,, or fold3 - The first time there was no response at all. The second time I was told no. Maybe it's because I use and not .com? I was recently told of a all access type subscription for Ancestry/ - but it doesn't actually work out to a discount. As an avide newspaper archive site user, I'm pretty sure if Ancestry would give discounts - and advertise a discount - for their newspaper sites, with one little taste to their standard Ancestry users of just how much you can discover in newspapers, and they'd have them hooked for the long term. But I don't run their business, so I'd assume they do what they need to do to make the company viable and solid for the long term.

  6. - I like it and I hate it! I take this space to remind myself it is not nice to hate and I remind it is also not nice to take advantage of people. The services provides are very useful.They were built to help folks research their family history. And, the research that's customers do helps to make more valuable to its current and future customers. That generous spirit of mutual benefit is being broken by ever increasing, unvarnished greed on the part of

  7. I added the and fold 3 to my yearly subscription. I won't be fooled into getting that "discount" again. It is NOT full access. Full access would cost me ANOTHER $59 a year! Very deceptive on the part of Ancestry.

    1. Agree 100%, I will not be getting "full access" from again. I really feel ripped off after being an customer for 15+ years.

  8. Rates are up to $150 a year. But they been getting larger newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times and Detroit Free Press.