Historical – Online
Chronicling America provides free access to millions of American newspaper pages. Text is fully searchable and the newspapers may be downloaded. There are over 40 Tennessee titles available (variants counted as one), dating from the 1850s to the early 1900s. The US Newspaper Directory provides information on newspapers published in the US since 1690. Search the directory to locate extant copies (original, microfilm, digital) in repositories across the US.
Gale’s 19th Century Newspapers database is freely available to Tennessee residents through the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL). Connect via the Tennessee State Library and Archives, or via your local public library’s website. UT students and employees can also connect via UT Libraries’ Databases. Tennessee towns include Chattanooga, Jonesborough, Memphis, and Nashville.
ProQuest’s Historical Newspapers database provides access to the Nashville Tennessean, 1812-1922 (as well as several other US cities’ newspapers). Although listed as one title, the Tennessean was published under a variety of names throughout the years covered here. Users may search across all variants or filter the search to a specific publication title. This subscription database is available to UT students and employees through UT Libraries’ Databases.
America’s Historical Newspapers is a subscription database published by Readex/NewsBank. Tennessee titles include the Knoxville Journal, Memphis Daily Avalanche, and the Nashville Banner. A complete list of US titles can be found here. This list includes newspapers from Readex’s African American Newspapers database. Tennessee titles include Knoxville’s Negro World and Nashville’s Colored Tennessean. This subscription database is available to UT students and employees through UT Libraries’ Databases – look for the link called “America’s Historical Newspapers (1690-1993).” The Knoxville News and the Knoxville News-Sentinel (1922-1990) is available to Knox County Public Library cardholders and UT employees and students.
Part of the ancestry.com group, newspapers.com is a subscription database. Several Tennessee titles are available including the Kingsport Times. Subscribers can also access Chronicling America’s newspapers via this database.
Google stopped adding content to its Google News Archive in 2011. Newspapers that were digitized during the three-year project can still be found on the website, including selected issues from a few Tennessee titles: Knoxville Daily Chronicle, Kingsport Post, Elizabethton Star, Cleveland Banner.
Other Tennessee titles freely available elsewhere online:
Rogersville various titles Available via the Old Fulton NY Postcards website. Various Rogersville titles from the early 19th century to the 21st century can be found under the Rogersville TN Review folder.
Sewanee student-run newspapers Various student-run newspapers from Sewanee, the University of the South, dating from the 19th century to present.
Southern Worker “Launched in the Summer of 1930, the Southern Worker was a semi-legal, semi-clandestine regional publication of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) targeted primarily to the black impoverished farmers and urban workers of the region.” Published in Chattanooga, issues from 1931 t0 1937 are available via the Marxists Internet Archive.
Historical – Print
Due to the extremely fragile nature of older newspapers, most libraries and archives provide access only via microfilm copies or digital scans. However, some organizations do permit patrons to view the original newspapers. Originals may be in bound volumes or loose (stored in folders), and are usually located in Special Collections departments in academic or public libraries.
Use the US Newspaper Directory to search for specific Tennessee titles, then check the Libraries that Have It page for “Originals.” Researchers should contact the holding institution directly if they wish to inquire about accessing original print copies.
Many libraries have historical Tennessee newspapers on microfilm. If your library does not hold the microfilm you need, you may be able to request it via your interlibrary loan service. The Tennessee State Library and Archive has an extensive newspaper microfilm collection.
Public libraries often keep clippings files, usually filed by subject (topic or person). Although these are harder to search, they can often reveal material not saved elsewhere.
“Lost” Tennessee newspapers. Catalogs, databases, and directories usually provide information about an institution’s holdings. The ephemeral nature of newspapers meant that they were more likely to be discarded than other publications, and with little or no trace. Over the course of the Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project, we’ve made note of references to newspapers that we’ve found in various sources such as Rowell’s and Ayer’s directories, other newspapers of the time, and more recently compiled bibliographies. This is a list of newspapers that we’ve found references to, but there are no extant copies. Download a spreadsheet here.
African American Tennessee newspapers. Many of the titles listed here do not have any extant copies. This is not an exhaustive list, but a work-in-progress. We’re compiling it from several different sources, and will add to it from time to time. Download a spreadsheet here.
Current and recent past – Online
Most current Tennessee newspapers have a website, although not all provide free access to all news content. The Tennessee Press Association’s website has a searchable database of all current TPA members and their websites.
NewsBank’s Access World News provides access to approximately 35 Tennessee newspapers. The most current issues are available, and most newspapers’ back issues date to the mid-to-late 2000s, with some dating back to the mid-1990s. This subscription database is available to UT students and employees via UT Databases. Some public libraries also offer access to this database for library members (check your local library’s website).
Tennessee’s four largest cities publish a variety of free newspapers, which report on local issues as well as providing events calendars. For example, Knoxville Mercury, Memphis Flyer, Nashville Scene, and Chattanooga’s The Pulse.
Most public and academic libraries keep print copies of local newspapers, usually dating back several months. Some may carry newspapers from other towns across the state. Check with your local library for details.