The fact is that all old newspapers ever published in the United States are not online. Much less than you might think.
I recently did a webinar about using Chronicling America to its fullest and obtaining more articles. In so doing, it was an interesting comparison of the number of online newspapers on that site versus the number of newspapers ever published in America.
What is your guess of the percentage? 10%? 20%? 5%?
No, the answer (at least with respect to Chronicling America) is that there are approximately 3,400 online titles and there have been over 156,700 titles ever published in the U.S. That yields just a tad over 2.17%. That's less than 3% !
Of course, Chronicling America doesn't represent all of the online titles and digitized pages available. My research results in about 35,000 free online links for the U.S. (see the Newspaper Links page on this website for all the links). So 30,000 (online) in comparison to 156,000 (published) - that's about 19% of the titles.
What about some of the paid sites, such as GenealogyBank, Newspaper.com, etc.? GenealogyBank on their website claims over 13,000 titles and Newspapers dot com states 18,000. And that doesn't count My Heritage or FindMyPast's collections. And there is considerable overlap probably.
So if we are being generous, let's add another 15% for the paid sites. That says that 30% have been digitized. That's titles, NOT pages. A single title that has one page from one issue in our math example counts the same as a title published daily for every year for a hundred years.
The moral of the story is that with all the date gaps that we newspaper researchers run into - it is almost impossible to figure out how much indeed has been digitized.
So let's just say for now that 15 to 30% of all U.S. newspaper pages have been digitized. Personally I think that's a very high number.
That leaves about 70-85% that are NOT online! Now what the heck do we do? Offline research - that's what. And the Library of Congress helps us out with the US Newspaper Directory from 1690 - Present so we can do offline research.
This handy directory provides not just multiple ways to find newspapers published, but tons of facts about those newspapers. Just do your choice of searches from the main US Newspaper Directory from 1690 - Present page. Here's an example of a "fact" page". It is presented in two parts.
And here is the bottom "half" of that display:
See all the interesting information about the paper? If you had an ancestor from the area that you think might be mentioned in this paper - and the paper was not online - maybe you could find it at an archive or library in original form or microfilm.
From this "facts" page, you can actually find out where the newspaper is held. Just click on the "View complete holdings information" link at the bottom. Here are some of the results for this newspaper:
So, you can see that it is available for your browsing pleasure at several libraries and archives - both in original and in microfilm form.
Don't give up if your paper of interest is not online. Visit the US Newspaper Directory from 1690 - Present from the Library of Congress.