There is a wonderful free collection from the CDNC - California Digital Newspaper Collection which is online. This source can be extremely useful for researchers with any ancestors from the California area. There are a variety of newspapers from several regions in the state. Everything from the California Star & California, the Daily Alta California, the Imperial Valley Press, Los Angeles Herald, Placer Times, Sacramento Daily Union, San Diego Downtown News and San Francisco Call, along with several other titles which offers a great selection. The older dates range from the 1840s for some newspapers to the 1880s and the 1920s. There are some more contemporary newspapers also. The free online site has about 435,259 pages representing some 5.3 million articles of California newspapers.
Using the Advance Search box you can place just a surname, especially if it is not a common name, or a location or an event. It is best to search all the newspapers since the years can vary. You can narrow down the research to a certain time period. Reminder, you can search for news events that happened in other parts of the country that would make the California papers. It is a good way to gather additional historical news.
The search will let you know then how many results are available. You can arrange them by the best match first, or by date or article title. Besides general articles with a name, there are also advertisements where that name would also appear. The term or name searched for will be highlighted in the digital copy of that newspaper page. An interesting aspect has all the other articles for that page to the left. There just might be some fascinating article you might also want to read.
The digital page can be enlarged and be made full screen. The full name of the article, the newspaper’s name, the volume and number are provided for easy sourcing of any article you find helpful. Click on the participate article and you can save it or the full page on your computer.
It can provide some great insight to news events, such as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, the oil fields discovered in 1910, the excitement of early aviation, the Mexican Revolution of 1911 or the United States at war in 1917.
Overall, a very valuable and informative site to use.