If you are not familiar with the Chronicling America website, it is a joint project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, and is an attempt to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of United States newspapers. The project began in 2005 and the initial phase covered the years 1900-1910. Currently you can search newspapers from 1836-1922. Right now there are over 6.5 million pages on the site! There are several reasons that this site is exciting to those interested in house history. First of all, reading stories that were written around the time that your house was built will give you a feel for what was going on in your town and the country at that time. The advertisements can give you an idea of what things cost, and how your homeowners may have been dressed. And finally, your homeowners or ancestors may be mentioned in the newspaper.
Once on the Chronicling America site, you can first select the state that your home, or that of an ancestor, is located in. Next you can enter a date range so that you can narrow down the results to the time period that you are interested in. Finally you can enter the appropriate search terms, for example the name of one of your homeowners, the name of the town the house is located in, and even the street or subdivision name. You may need to try variations on the information you enter. When I put the state of Missouri and John Murdoch in the search bar, I got 0 results. However, leaving off the first name and only entering Murdoch resulted in 19 hits. The items are displayed on the computer screen and you can select the ones you wish to look at. Since my Murdoch was in St. Louis, I knew that I did not need to initially look at any of the results from papers outside of the St. Louis area. The search term that you entered will be highlighted on the page, making it easy for you to see if the article refers to the person or place you are interested in. If you find something that you want to keep, you can download a PDF of the article or do a screen capture that you can open in Evernote, Photoshop or another program.