Learn how to find, format and print old newspapers to give as gifts or use in craft projects!
So, why am I interested in printing old newspapers? Well, recently one of my aunts had a milestone birthday and I was really struggling with what to get her. I wanted it to be creative and thoughtful…well, I guess that is the goal with any gift giving isn’t it? But I really wanted this one to be fun and unique.
Anyway, I was surfing around and happened across one of those services that will sell you a print of the newspaper from the day you were born. Great idea! But, oh my gosh, the price! We’re talking triple digits here! So I set out to see if I could DIY the process of printing old newspapers on my own!
The good news? You can!
Of course not every edition of every newspaper is available, but if you can find what you need, I’ll show you what to do next.
Please keep in mind that copyright rules do apply. The dates I was looking for are more than 50 years in the past so the content of these newspapers have entered the public domain. But be sure to look into copyright restrictions for whichever paper and date you choose before you start!
Another important note, some items in old newspaper are so out of date they’re funny, and we think, oh it was a different time, they didn’t know better. But please be aware that there can also occasionally be offensive things in old newspapers. We know better now so we can do better now. I chose to edit out a racial slur on the digital and printed front page of this paper. It was just one word and easy to remove, and since this isn’t a learning or research environment, it’s just for entertainment, I wasn’t comfortable leaving it there. So keep that in mind if you’re printing old newspapers for crafts.
How do I find old newspapers to print online?
Ok, this is probably the trickiest part. I’m going to show you how to do it with the Google News newspaper archive. But please keep in mind that that this is an old tool that Google does not update anymore and it could be retired at any point.
If you can’t find the newspaper that you’re looking for in the Google news archives, some other places to check include:
- The specific newspaper’s website – they may have an online archive you can browse
- Chronicling America
- Here are list of online newspaper archives by state
- Small Town Papers
- Visit your local library in person. This is the kind of thing librarians live for!
- Your local library will also have access to TONS of online databases included with your library card. Ask the librarian if any of those would have what you’re looking for. I found links to state based academic newspaper archives right on my local library’s website, all I had to do was enter my library card number to get in!
- Your local college or university library
- Your local historical society
Again, with all of these sources, PLEASE check any rules for printing and copyright before you start!
I found a digital copy of my old newspaper, now what?
If it’s an option, go ahead and download the full image files of your old newspaper pages, then process to my printing instructions below.
Because I am using Google News Archive, there is no download option. Instead, as a workaround, you have to screen capture and re-assemble the images. (One more time, check copyright restrictions on the edition you’re using first!!!) It’s best to use a regular computer and you will also need an image editing software like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Canva.
How do I download images from Google News Archive?
- Open your old newspaper and zoom until the width of one page fills the screen.
- Press your print screen button to copy your screen.
- Open your image editing software, open a new document, paste in the screen capture.
- Use the selection tool to select only the newspaper part of the image and copy or Ctrl+c to copy it.
- Make a new document that is 18” x 24”. This is a standard size engineering print available at print shops. You could also use 11” x 17” if you want to print on regular paper but you might need a magnifier to read some of the text.
- Paste the selection into the new document.
- Go back to the Google News page and do not adjust the zoom. Just scroll down one screen height and hit the print screen button again.
- Go back to your photo editing program and paste this new image in a new document.
- Use the selection tool to select only the newspaper and copy or Ctrl+c to copy that part of the image.
- Then paste this selection into the 18″ x 24″ document as a new layer and line up the second layer with the first to start to reassemble the entire newspaper page.
Repeat steps 7-10 until you have reassembled the entire page. I was able to do it with only 3 sections.
Flatten the image and save as a pdf or jpg file. Make sure the resolution is at least 200 PPU at the size you are printing.
Then go back to Google News Archive and move to the next page of the newspaper (if you want to) and repeat. I was able to put together the 9 most interesting pages (including the funny pages) from my newspaper edition!
How do I print old newspapers?
As I said, you can print these old newspapers on regular legal paper, but I think part of the fun is having the print be roughly the size of a real newspaper. Plus these old images can be pretty hard to read, so bigger is better. For these reasons, I went with engineering prints and it worked it great!
Engineering prints are meant for printing engineering drawings and architectural blueprints (aka are black and white line drawings). Some bloggers are using engineering prints these days to print photos for crafts and home decor.
Check out my post on The Truth about DIY Engineering Prints if you want my take on this trend and my tips and tricks for getting nice engineering prints.
Please note, the printed newspaper pages will be lower contrast than the original with an engineering print, which is to be expected, but they’re still perfectly readable.
For this project I went ahead and uploaded my newspaper images to the Engineering Prints section of the Staples website.
(Office Depot has gotten wise and when I tried to upload my newspaper images there, the upload software told me my images would use too much ink for engineering prints and were not allowed. Another option is Parabo Press, they will print anything as engineering prints. Theirs are huge but you could do more than one newspaper page per sheet and then cut them down.)
Make sure your images are portrait orientation and “scale to fit page”. Then go ahead and submit your engineering print order!
Mine were ready later that day and they came out great! You can decide if you want to trim them down or not. I folded mine up like a real newspaper to give as a gift.
Old newspapers make a great birthday gift because they really show what the world was like on the day someone was born. And they often contain hilarious stories. Like this front page gem about a monkey who saved a doll from a fire! Yes, apparently that was front page news in 1949!
You could also use printed old newspapers in all kinds of craft projects! One you know how to print old newspapers, the sky’s the limit for what you can do with them. Get creative!
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