Friday, October 24, 2014

Using Newspapers for Family History

Your family history does not have to be a list of names, dates, and places.  Your ancestor's life may not have been signifigent enough to make the headlines, but sometimes even the local farmer can be found on pages of his hometown paper.  There are several newspaper archives that have a variety of hometown papers online.  I subscribe to three of them.  In addition, there are a few websites  available that offer a free look at old newspapers.  I try to check them all.  Keep in mind that not all newspapers from all eras are available.  It is hit or miss.  You are more likely to find newspapers from larger cities in these archives, but unless your ancestor was notable, the chance that your ancestor appears on the pages are less.  For smaller towns, if you don't find a newspaper online, then I suggest writing to the local library.  They may have microfilms of the newspapers published in their area.  You will have to tell them what you are looking for, including the date and subject (obituary, marriage notice).  Don't forget foreign newspapers that were published in your ancestor's town.  Here is a clipping from a Chicago Swedish newspaper that gives a biography of the deceased including her birthplace in Sweden.

Here is a clipping from an Atlanta paper.

Here is a newsy article from a small town paper in Goshen, Indiana.