Word from the AP that the complete archive (both text and images) of the Boston Globe will be digitized and made full text searchable by ProQuest, a well-known database publisher. The Globe will be the seventh paper that ProQuest has digitized as part of their Historical Newspaper program. The other papers are:
+ The New York Times- 1851-2001
+ The Wall Street Journal- 1889-1987
+ The Washington Post- 1877-1988
+ The Christian Science Monitor- 1908-1991
+ Los Angeles Times- 1881-1984
+ Chicago Tribune- 1849-forward
The Times of London archive has been digitized by Gale back to 1785.
The NY Times provides free web access to their database here. Articles cost $2.95. The searchability of the database is limited, especially compared to what you can do when using the ProQuest interface.
Many libraries (public, university, etc.) offer free 24x7 web access (including the complete articles and ads) to these and many other full text databases from home, office, or wherever you can get web access. In fact, yesterday I was just searching the NY Times and Wall Street Journal historical databases for early mentions of info retrieval companies. These databases are highly addictive.
More about what libraries offer for free and without having to visit the library building in this SearchDay article.