Press enter after choosing selection

Research Tips: Learn how to search AADL's Archives

 Many types of local historical materials are freely available and searchable online using the Local History search box above:

  • Newspaper articles
  • Photographs
  • City directories
  • Yearbooks
  • Oral histories, and more!

Additional materials are housed in our physical location. Some of these materials can be digitized upon request. 

  • Ann Arbor News clippings
  • Photographic negatives
  • Slides
  • Microfilm
  • Newspaper bound volumes

Find out how to access these resources by following the steps below. You can always email for help with your research questions!

Step 1. Search AADL’s Local History Collections

Getting started

To search materials AADL has available online, start with a keyword search in AADL’s Local History collections:  

AADL Archives search bar with "Local History" circled in drop-down menu

Make sure that "Local History" is selected from the drop-down menu at the very top of the page. Enter your search query in the box and click the magnifying glass (or hit enter on your keyboard). 

On the next screen, you will see your search results. These represent all the materials AADL has already digitized and put on our website relating to the keyword(s) you searched.

Sort my results

Drop-down menu showing "sort-by" options

To sort the results, use the “Sort by” drop-down menu.

For chronological order, select “Pub Year: Oldest.” You can also use the menu icons at the top right to change the number of items shown per page and toggle between list view and grid view.

Filter options from website with "Apply" button circled in redFilter my results

AADL’s Local History collections hold a LOT of material, and sometimes a search query produces too many results for easy browsing. 

Use the filters on the left-hand side of the page to narrow down your search results. Click the blue "Apply" button to put these filters into effect.


  • After adding filters, you may need to reset your “Sort by” method. 
  • You can search and filter at the same time by using the “Formats” drop-down menu in the search bar at the top of the page.
  • Occasionally, a search that is too specific will produce no search results. Enter a new search term or click “Reset” to clear the filters.
  • To limit your search to a certain year range, click the “Limit to Years” checkbox and type in the first and last year of the range you would like to search, then click “Apply.”


Step 2. Search AADL’s Inventory

What is an inventory?

An inventory is a list of all the materials held in an archive. Only a portion of these materials have been scanned and put on our website, so the resources you are looking for may not appear in a Local History website search.

Search the inventory

You can search AADL’s inventory to learn whether the AADL Archives may have additional resources available for digitization. The inventory is especially comprehensive for Ann Arbor News materials.


  • To search for people, try several combinations: full name, last name only, and any nicknames. Avoid putting quotes around names as this will limit your results.
  • To search for business names, organizations, and other topics, try one keyword that was unlikely to change over the years, e.g. “Weber’s” not “Weber’s Restaurant.”
  • Keep in mind that the date listed on a clipping file envelope may not match the date of all the newspaper articles it contains–often it represents the date the file was started. 

How do I access these resources?

Although the AADL Archive is not open to the public, staff can locate and scan materials that appear in an inventory search to help with your research request. 

Email with as much information as possible–names, dates, relevant context, and any search results from the inventory that you are interested in. 

Step 3. Search the Ann Arbor News database

What is the Ann Arbor News database?

The microfilm for the Ann Arbor News has been digitized back to 1923 and is freely searchable for Michigan residents via the Library of Michigan. The database supports browsing and keyword searches of the full text of the Ann Arbor News.

Although this database is not an AADL resource, it complements AADL’s collection of the physical archives of the Ann Arbor News. Some researchers may only need to explore this database to find the information they are seeking. 

For research assistance or high-quality scans of newspaper articles or photos from the Ann Arbor News, the AADL Archives is your best resource. Email with your question!

How do I access the database?

To access the Ann Arbor News database, sign up for a library card with the Library of Michigan.

If you are a Michigan resident, you qualify for a card, and you can complete the whole process online. Library of Michigan staff will email you the details of your new account and then you will have access to many online resources, including online databases.

Use the "Ann Arbor News Historical and Current Collection (Newsbank)" database to search the Ann Arbor News all the way back to 1923.