Newspapers are a primary source providing a first rough draft of events. Since most newspapers are local in scope, there is good coverage of local issues. Newspapers also provide a good feel for the time period.
Most older newspapers do not include indexing. Usually you will need to browse through issues of a newspaper to discover its content.
When searching any fulltext database such as the New York Times you may find the following strategies useful to narrow your search down to more relevant items.
This page includes links to freely available digitized historic Newspapers.
Google News has a newspaper archive search which provides access to a number of past issues of newspapers. Unfortunately Google does not provide a list of these newspapers. The Google News Archive Search finds articles from proprietary newspapers (where you have to pay to see the article) and to free archives of newspapers. To search the Google News Archive use the following search example. You can limit your search by date, source (name of the newspaper, e.g., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), and if you want just free material.