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More than two centuries worth of Lancaster newspaper archives are now online through Newspapers.com, and are free to LNP and Lancaster Online subscribers.

THE ISSUE

As LNP Media Group, publisher of this newspaper, celebrated its 225th anniversary earlier this summer, its management announced a partnership with Newspapers.com to make its local newspaper archives available to the public. Access is now free to everyone with a print or digital subscription to LNP or LancasterOnline.

“Obviously, a newspaper does several different things,” Caroline Muraro, president of LNP Media Group, told staff writer Mary Ellen Wright. “One of the things is it informs our community, on a daily basis, of what’s going on.

“But it also is a historical record of what’s happened, which is important.”

It is indeed important. The LNP archive now accessible on Newspapers.com is a treasure trove. It can connect us to our shared past, which we need to understand to navigate the future.

Within seconds, searchers have this kind of history at their fingertips:

— “U.S. declares war on Japan,” Dec. 8, 1941, Lancaster New Era.

— “Allies invade France,” June 6, 1944, Intelligencer Journal.

— “President Kennedy assassinated,” Nov. 23, 1963, Intelligencer Journal.

— “7 Lancastrians drown, 4 missing, flood causes millions in damage” (Hurricane Agnes), June 23, 1972, Lancaster New Era.

“Newspapers.com was thrilled to get this archive,” Muraro told Wright, “because there are probably diminishing numbers of newspapers that have 200-some years of content that can come their way.”

And LNP is just as excited to offer this to its print and digital subscribers.

Nearly everything that has been published in Lancaster newspapers is now fully searchable on Newspapers.com through LancasterOnline, Muraro said.

The digitization took place between May and July, allowing those who already paid for a subscription to Newspapers.com to see archived LNP content in their search results during the summer.

The local archives on Newspapers.com currently go back to the June 17, 1796, edition of the Lancaster Journal. One more volume of early newspapers is to be digitized, taking the record back to 1795.

(LNP doesn’t own copies of Lancaster’s earliest few newspapers from 1794; those are in historical archives.) Alexandra Henry, LNP Media Group’s branding and communications manager, told Wright that newspapers up to about 30 days ago have been digitized; there will always be about a month’s gap in getting the papers digitized through Newspapers.com.

Only LNP and LancasterOnline subscribers will have free access to the local archives through LancasterOnline, Muraro explained.

Brent Carter, senior director of content for Newspapers.com, told Wright that in addition to genealogical research, people use Newspapers.com “in kind of a nostalgia way, for old articles they appeared in — maybe football stories or something like that.”

And it’s extremely user-friendly. We tried looking up the 1966 All-Lancaster County boys basketball team by searching for a name (family relation) and it was super-easy.

“There’s a lot you can do” with Lancaster’s Newspapers.com archives, Kim Gomoll, librarian at LNP, said. “It really is a lot of fun.”

She’s right. In fact, it’s hard to step away from searching once you get engrossed.

Gomoll suggests starting out on the site with a broad search — for example, someone’s name in quotation marks — and then narrowing the search results by filtering by date.

She recommends using the tools on the right side to zoom in and out, or change the brightness of the page if you’re having trouble reading it.

Throughout the summer, history buff David Gelatt has been traveling through the centuries via local digital text, finding out who lived in his house back in the 1800s and learning the backstories of other historical structures and figures in Lancaster County.

“One thing that’s really cool to do,” Gelatt told Wright, “is researching your home. I went in and typed in my address in quotes” in the Newspapers. com search.

“I was actually able to find articles about people who lived in the house,” he said. “I was doing other research on them — who were they, where did they come from, where did they live after this?”

Gelatt discovered that a gunfight had happened in the kitchen of his home generations ago during a family spat.

“I really think there’s no limit” to what you can search for in these Lancaster archives, Muraro told LNP. “You might just go here out of curiosity and (read something else) and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t remember that happening 25 years ago here.’ You start spinning off into other topics.

“Anything that was part of our content for all of those years is searchable,” Muraro said, “from fires to elections to openings and closings and births.”

We encourage our subscribers to dive right in to the now-available archive. And for those who aren’t print or digital subscribers? Here’s another reason to subscribe, because nothing beats LNP’s current and historical coverage of Lancaster County, the nation and the world.

Community newspapers are becoming an endangered species. LNP is fortunate to be located in a community that’s committed to its newspaper — a community that is as excited about its future as it is about its past.

With LNP marking its 225th anniversary, Newspapers.com is “a gift back to the community,” Muraro said. We hope you thoroughly enjoy it.