Are you a fan of using newspapers in your genealogy research? If so, check out the Old Fulton NY Post Cards website, one of, if not the, largest free digital newspaper websites out there.
Old Fulton NY is a one-man-show run by Tom Tryniski, a retired engineer with a high school education and a passion for making digital, searchable newspapers available for free on the Internet.. Tryniski runs the site out of his home; the server lives in a gazebo on his front porch. The Old Fulton NY site is composed of frames (you may remember them as a programming device from the early days of the Internet) with random images of a court jester and a swimming fish, but behind the clunky interface is a gold mine of digitized, searchable newspapers.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards is living proof of the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or, as Tryniski himself says, “Forget the interface. Once you hit the search button, all that stuff disappears and you get to see the newspaper!” According to the website, Old Fulton NY offers 22 million pages of digitized newspapers, compared to the 5 million pages of Chronicling America run by the Library of Congress. Old Fulton NY tracks about 6 million page views per month and boasts 500 papers on its site. The newspapers on this site aren’t just from New York; you will find papers from all over, including Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Chicago, and Antioch, Illinois. The largest paper on the site Is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle with a run of 115 years (which Tryniski digitized and made searchable in 4 short months).
Here is some advice for getting the most out of the Old Fulton NY site. Click “Enter” on the main page; on the next page you will see the search box in the top left corner. Search by name, place, keywords, or any combination thereof. Keep in mind that the optical character recognition, which is what the search feature relies on, is not great, so whatever terms you search on will probably bring up lots of “misses.” This site is not for the faint of heart or those who are easily discouraged. Keep trying different combinations of names, places and keywords. More tips on searching the site can be found here.
If you prefer to browse through a paper, or if you want to see what papers are available, there is a set of 10 pages of thumbnails of the digitized images of all the papers arranged in a grid. The only way to find a specific paper or state of coverage is to download a Microsoft Excel file from the link (in hard-to-read-blue text) at the top of the first thumbnail page, and then use Excel’s Search and Find feature.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards is a site every genealogist should know about and be familiar with. Put on a pot of coffee and start searching!
(Just in case you’re wondering, there are old post cards and photos on part of the site, in addition to the newspapers, mostly of interest to Fulton, New York folk.)