Detroit Free Press, 1831-1999

Alternative Titles
Freep, DFP
ProQuest Historical Newspapers, PQHN
Democratic Free Press & Michigan Intelligencer, Daily Free Press, Semi Weekly Free Press, Detroit Daily Free Press

Searchable access to the backfile of the Detroit Free Press newspaper, from the first issue on May 5, 1831 through December 31, 1999.  Reproduces the complete full text of every issue in its original printed form, in full page images digitized from microfilm. 

Note:  This backfile is comprised of 2 parts that are indexed and presented differently:  

  • The earlier part (1831-1922) provides PDFs of individual articles, and permits searches limited to article title and article author fields, as well as searches across the entire full text and by the original section and page numbers.  
  • The later part (1923-1999) provides PDFs only of whole pages, and permits searching only across the entire full text and by simplified page numbers (where each issue is paginated from the first page of the first section to the last page of the last section in a single numeric sequence starting with 1, regardless of what the original section and page numbers were).  To make it easier to see on the whole pages where the articles matching your search appear, the entered search terms are suppose to appear highlighted on the whole page PDFs; however, this highlighting feature does not yet work on the Chrome web browser, nor on any Apple device.

Searching across both parts combined (the default) is limited to searching across the entire full text and by simplified page numbers.  If preferred, each part can be searched separately using the links above.

Technical note:  Highlighting of search terms on whole page PDFs provided in the later part (1923-1999) currently works only on Windows devices with the Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer web browsers.

Background:  The Detroit Free Press published its first edition before Michigan entered statehood and when wild animals outnumbered the people living in the city. Its editor assigned a writer to walk the waterfront and record the shipping news each day, creating the first news “beat.” The Free Press also was the first U.S. newspaper to print a regular Sunday edition and the first to publish court testimony. It sent reporters to Civil War battlefields to describe the action, set up a Washington bureau to report on politics, and was the first American newspaper published in Europe when it began a London edition in 1881.

The Detroit Free Press witnessed the arrival of former slaves and the influx of Polish, German, Irish, and Italian immigrants to Michigan. It watched the mining and timber industries bring industry and wealth to the state. The publication witnessed the birth of the automotive industry and products such as Vernors Ginger Ale and Faygo pop. And, it followed Detroit Tiger’s baseball player Ty Cobb as he set record after record.

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