If I were to say where some of my most exciting discoveries have come from, I would have to say Old Newspapers.
This last year, I made the discovery of the death of my Hero's great great grandmother that I had almost given up on. A sweet lady had put her obit up on FindaGrave when she discovered there wasn't a memorial for her. She gave me the paper it was in, but there is only a transcription on Nebraska USGenWeb for the Columbia, Nebraska newspaper. When searching to read the transcription, I found there was also a small obit for a child that the Heimbach family had lost when it was 18 months old. We would never have known this baby existed if it had not been for the small newspaper article.
I also was trying to find what happened to my great great grandfather's first child. In an old newspaper article that told of him leaving Georgia, there was a mention of his wife dying and that he still had a new boy that he was very fond of.
When he arrived in Texas, he met a lovely lady, and they were married. All the children I found on the censuses were her's. I ask my dad about his great grandfather, and he said all he knew was that his great grandfather Gildon had lost his family when he crossed the Mississippi. His thought had been, that they had drowned or were killed. It was a time when many were dying of Yellow Fever in Georgia, and this was apparently the cause of Frances Massey Gildon's death. Other family members said the child was left with one of Charles's sisters. I could not find any evidence of this. I turned to old newspapers again. I found the article of Frances's death, but kept searching. I found what I thought was another repeat of her death, but on closer study, found it was the son's death at 9 months of age. He was also named Francis and thus that was how I almost missed finding the truth.
Another great great grandfather was said to have died in a gun fight. I searched books and gun fights to no avail. Then, Wyoming opened up their old newspapers online in the Wyoming Newspaper Project. There I found in two different newspapers his obit and who handled his death. He died of pneumonia in his home. Nothing exciting there, except the evidence of truth.
These are wonderful finds, but I have also been able to trace the epidemics that took the lives of half of the Hero's great great grandparent's families in Chicago in the 1910s. The Yellow Fever Epidemics of Georgia that had high reports of deaths in newspapers up as far as New York. The coverage of the fire in Savannah in 1820 that was documented all the way to Connecticut newspapers, and my ancestor's losses in the fire. I found and followed my mother's father's travels to and from the Philippines in the Philippines War. There was the discovered brother of one of the Hero's ancestors, who had died in the Mexican War, with not a clue as to who his parents were. Now I have a the day that they both were the first volunteers in their town to step up to go fight in the Mexican War in blazing detail.
This is just a smidgen of the excitement of the browsing through old newspapers I have had the fun of doing. Chronicling America has a great sampling of old Newspapers. GenealogyBank.com has helped a lot. This is just two sites I have used. and I have also ordered old films, and gone to the libraries to search the films. Ancestor Hunt offers information on many resources for old newspapers, and many State Archives have old newspapers online. I have only tried one in Great Britain, but I am sure there are serendipitous information to be had there too, just not quite over there yet.
Hope you have enjoyed this and if you haven't played a lot with old newspapers in your research, give it a try.