Family Genealogy Search in Historical Newspapers

I can still remember my first experience with historical newspapers several years ago.  I was in an university library and the newspapers I was searching were on microfilm.  There was no index or search feature, so it was a time consuming process doing a family genealogy search in old newspapers for the time frame I was searching.

Search Family Genealogy in Historical Newspapers

With millions and millions of historical newspapers now digitized through online repositories we are no longer held to time constraints and instead indexed images of newspapers online now allow us to do family genealogy searches for terms that interest us.

The examples below will give you an idea of the types of rich information you can find in historical newspapers that will really add interest to your family story.

Key Family Genealogy Search Information

  • Maiden names
  • Vital Records substitute information
  • Birth, marriage, anniversary notices
  • Obituaries
  • Names of their friends and relatives
  • Photographs
  • Events affecting the lives of your ancestors – their employers, their community, disasters such as crop failures, factory closures and other economic factors that may have impacted your ancestor’s ability to earn a living.

There are many types of items included in newspapers.  Smaller towns and local newspapers would often mention visiting relatives, the parties held and the trips made by the locals in the town and area.  School and sporting events were featured often with accompanying photos.

During wartime, there were often reports on local servicemen and women. Sometimes newspapers reprinted letters written home by soldiers who were serving.

These are a just small sampling of the items that you might find when you do a family genealogy search in old newspapers.

Family Genealogy Search Tips:

  • Don’t limit your search to your ancestor’s hometown paper.  Newspapers often picked up items from other cities, counties and states.
  • Include searches for the names of relatives such as in-laws, siblings and other family members who lived in the same area.

Be sure to sign up for our complimentary Genealogy Research Checklist to aid your family genealogy search.  (below)


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