Find Those Ancestors – Use Newspapers To Find Articles On Your Family


Newspapers are a pleasure to use for researching your ancestors. They are sources of tidbits that you will not find any where else. Some genealogists pooh-pooh them as useless, but I love them. They think it is not true genealogy. What better source to find history and the spirit of the times that your ancestors enjoyed?

Most genealogy websites contain newspapers old and new. Genealogy Bank, World Vital Records, Ancestry, Footnote and others have thousands of historic newspapers.

Look at your city or the city of your ancestors and see what newspapers are available. If you are not on the internet, visit the library as most of them have archives of newspapers and many of them are on microfilm. You can make copies off the microfilm.

Some of the old newspapers had a column that announced unclaimed letters that the post office kept. I found one to my grandfather from his wife who was still home in Ireland as she was expecting a child. That was another clue as to when he immigrated to the United States and to the town where he lived.

Priceless local news offered such items such as: visitors to town or out-of-town, church news, including baptisms, weddings, and obituaries. News of epidemics and illnesses that affected the whole city appeared at the right time.

Much more detailed school news was in the old newspapers. Graduation lists and even actors featured in plays and musicians in recitals was usually written up.

One of the problems of searching old newspapers is the distraction of reading the ads, the comics and any other interesting item. Many of the old newspapers also had no organization. You might find obituaries on page two one day and page five the next day.

The Family History Center in Salt Lake City has thousands of microfilmed newspapers from around the world. You can order these through your local Family History center. If you have internet access, you can search the Family History Library Catalog to find which newspapers are available for the city you are searching. Then you can use the microfilm machines at the center to make copies.

The Library of Congress is another source for newspapers from the United States and other countries. You can browse the directory by newspaper title listed alphabetically. I have people in Aberdeen, South Dakota and found the Aberdeen Daily News 1886-1923 on microfilm.

While perusing the Library of Congress site. if you find a newspaper in a city of your ancestors, you can search a page and copy the results. I found a family member in the Bisbee daily review. (Bisbee, Ariz.) 1901-1971, November 24, 1905, Image 2.

Newspaper research is fun and rewarding, but time-consuming. As for all genealogy, keep an open mind and use good judgment when using newspaper data.


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