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Grand Rapids Public Library local research newspapers collection

Identifier: Collection 259

Scope and Contents

Newspapers are available on microfilm or on paper. The dates and contents for these various formats vary. As a rule, most greater Grand Rapids area newspaper holdings are held on microfilm. Only selective titles or issues of original newspapers are kept in the archives, with the primary user collection being those on microfilm. Due to the fragile nature of the printed newspaper, these items are generally used only for exhibits or special projects.


  • 1840s-2013

Biographical / Historical

Generally, newspapers are serial publications issued in print on a daily or weekly basis. The intent of the publisher is generally the presentation of current news. As such, the physical form of the newspaper is ephemeral, not created by the publisher for long term durability or access. Newspapers published before the Civil War had rag content in the paper, potentially making the physical item more durable than later newspapers that were often printed on cheap newsprint paper.

For information on the history of newspapers in Grand Rapids, see:

The Chronology of Newspapers in the Grand Rapids Area, published on the Kent County Michigan GenWeb site ( Includes early information from the Michigan Pioneers Collection, Vol. 6, 1883; pg 82-3.

Chapter XIII: The County Press (pages 414-441) from The History of Kent County, Michigan ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships ... biographies of representative citizens. Chicago,: C. C. Chapman & co., 1881.

Chapter 30, The Press of Grand Rapids (pages 260-277) from Albert Baxter's History of the City of Grand Rapids. New York,, Grand Rapids, : Munsell & company, 1891.

Newspapers of Grand Rapids (pages 95-98) from A Citizen's History of Grand Rapid, Michigan. Compiled/edited by William J. Etten. A.P. Johnson Company for the Campau centennial committee, 1926.

For additional historical information on area newspapers see Coll. 289.


212.2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This is the general archival collection for newspapers from the greater Grand Rapids and Kent County areas, along with a few Michigan newspapers. The two major Grand Rapids, Michigan newspapers of the 20th century are the Grand Rapids Press, which continues today, and the Grand Rapids Herald, which ceased in 1959. Holdings of earlier Grand Rapids newspapers, beginning in the 1840s, are also available, although there are many missing issues. Additional newspaper holdings include neighborhood newspapers, special interest newspapers (such as Grand Valley Labor News) and ethnic newspapers (such as Grand River Times, La Voz).


Indexing is available for some newspaper titles, but not all titles or all holdings of all titles. However, the largest percentage of Grand Rapids newspapers have no indexing at this time. The more specific information that the researcher has concerning when an item was published, the more likely it may be found.

A list of indexes available online can be found on the library's website. Indexes for the Grand Rapids Press are available from 1982-2005 and 1893-1922 (through NewsBank, with full text articles for a fee).

In addition, limited newspaper indexing from 1957 to 1986 is available within the department in the form of a paper index. Few personal and corporate names are given in this indexing time period.

Some articles may also be found in the Grand Rapids Herald through searching the Robinson Studio collection. The Robinson Studio took pictures for use in the Grand Rapids Herald from the late 1930s through the late 1950s. Negatives for man of these images are indexed and the date provides the best date to start looking for the image within the newspaper.

Obituaries published in Grand Rapids newspapers from 1910-present are indexed on the Western Michigan Genealogical Society website.

Master Microfilm Sets

Master Microfilm are those versions of the microfilm of the greatest quality, preserved for use only to create usage microfilm.

The Grand Rapids Public Library Archives has some master microfilm for some titles, created when the Library has taken the initiative to microfilm the title, usually using a commercial vendor. Other master microfilm for Grand Rapids area titles is held at Central Michigan University or the Library of Michigan, if created through the U.S. Newspaper Microfilm Project, or by UMI Proquest, if created through that vendor, for example.

Please note that several of these master microfilm were created using pre-US-Newspaper project standards, and any master microfilm is likely to have missing issue, if those issues were unavailable at the time of microfilming.

Related Materials

Newspaper titles not listed in this finding aid may be treated as magazines or serials. Check the library catalog and/or the list of magazines/periodicals.

Older issues of the New York Times are kept on microfilm in the reference department on the lower level.

Related archival collections:

Collection 256, Underground newspapers

Collection 297, Grand Rapids Press collection

Collection 216, GRPL ephemera collection: contains Grand Rapids Press Voter's Guides special sections

Finding aid for the Grand Rapids Public Library local research newspapers collection
R. Mayne
April 2000-
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA