Using Newspapers for Genealogy

Using Newspapers for Genealogy
Once source for genealogy research, that is sometimes overlooked, is the newspapers. Most of us have looked there for birth, marriage and death notices, but the newspapers can offer much more. Stories about the city our ancestors lived in can be read, what the weather may have been like at a particular time, the social going-ons are given, the headlines for that time period and, maybe, a story that mentions your ancestor.

Where can you find these older newspapers? and other genealogical websites have links to some newspapers. The archives of some local papers may have some information for you. Other sources are the Library of Congress, the State Archives & Library, University Libraries, Public Libraries, County Courthouses and Historical Societies.

One source to help you find what you need is the
NEH U.S. Newspaper Program. The United States Newspaper Program is a cooperative national effort among the states and the federal government to locate, catalog, and preserve on microfilm newspapers published in the United States from the eighteenth century to the present.

Bibliographies, Indexes and Absracts can also help locating where you can find what you need in the newspaper.

Once you find a newspaper in the area where your ancestors lived, what type of research might you find there? Vital records are recorded as mentioned earlier. Birth notices, marriage notices along with engagements and anniversaries, death notices, obituaries and sometimes the coroner’s report might be recorded.

If an ethnic group lived in a certain city, they might have their own newspaper. This would give you a sense of their culture at that time. Events of their homeland might be mentioned too.

One fun thing to do as you search these older newspapers is make note of the prices of items sold at that time. Compare to today’s prices and see how much times have changed. Note the cost of food, gasoline, furniture or the price of a new car. What do the photos look like? What are the people wearing? Are the hairstyles different from today's look?

Newspapers can add to your family research by giving you a sense of the times during their life. And what a treasure if you actually find an article or photograph that is of your ancestor!!!

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