Historical newspapers give us the remarkable ability to see history through eyewitness accounts. They are the day-to-day diaries of community events and include stories of the famous and ordinary people.
Beyond much-sought obituaries, newspapers tell us about births, marriages, engagements, school, sports and organizational events, accounts of accidents, and what was going on in the local courts and more. In addition, millions of pages of information about our ancestors have been published in a wide variety of periodicals.
- To learn what newspapers are available, go the Card Catalog and select Newspapers and Periodicals, then Newspapers from the filters on the left. Use the Filter by Location options to focus on the area where your family lived. If your family lived in a small town, look for a nearly larger nearby city newspaper which might have included local news.
- Don’t limit your search to your ancestor’s hometown paper. News stories may have been picked up by newspapers across the country, and often you’ll find obituaries were picked up in former hometowns and in places where other family members lived.
- If you find too many results, try searching a smaller location such as a county or city name instead of a state. For more results, change to a larger location like a country, or remove the location entry to see all results for the name you entered.
- Don’t limit your search to your direct ancestors. Search for the names of cousins, siblings, in-laws, and other family members who lived in the same area.
- Browsing a specific newspaper issue can be a useful way to find information when you know the date and place of a particular event in your ancestor’s life. Use the Card Catalog to find a newspaper you want. Use the "Browse by date" on the newspaper’s main page to display the years of available issues. Find the month and year that matches the event you want, then browse through the newspaper until you find the appropriate section, such as birth or death announcements. You may want to check newspapers for several days around the event.
- Search wide in local genealogical publications, including searches for cousins, siblings, in-laws and other family members. Information about a person’s extended family may provide clues that can help you in your research.
- Many genealogical publications contain an index of names at the back of the book. Browse the index other possible relatives who may be mentioned in the same publication.