Feb 18, 2022

Read All About It – Newspaper Research

February 17, 2021

Newspapers are one of my favorite research resources. They contain tons of information that can’t be found anywhere else. Where else would you find stories about men running off with “shady” women or the tragic tale of a young hunter who accidentally shot himself while pheasant hunting? Not to mention the obits, anniversary and marriage notices that fill in the blanks about our ancestors’ lives.


It used to be that newspaper research was tedious. It mostly involved reading through old newspapers with your fingers crossed that you’d find something about your own family. Until recently, it usually meant travelling to a local library that held the newspapers, either in the original paper or on microfilm, for the area you were interested in.


The last twenty years have changed all of that. Nowadays, newspaper research often is as simple as plugging a name into a database and watching the results miraculously appear. Sometimes the databases charge, but often they’re free.


There are three large, pay for view newspaper websites. They are ( ), Genealogy Bank ( ) and Newspaper Archive ( ). Since all three have a large selection of historic newspapers, they’re a good starting point. I happen to have subscriptions to  two of these websites, so I usually start with them. All three are easy to search and have easy procedures to clip and save articles.


If you prefer to use free websites, there are a number of good ones available. “Chronicling America” ( ) is definitely worth checking. It’s a free website operated by the Library of Congress . It contains newspapers from all over the United States.


There are also a number of state and local historic newspaper projects. The easiest way to find them is google “historic newspapers” plus the name of the state of interest. Colorado’s digital newspaper project is especially comprehensive.


For an overview of what newspapers are available online, there are several good online indexes to newspapers.  Elephind ( ) is a good example of this type of index. Elephind is especially helpful since it contains lists of newspapers from countries all over the world.


My favorite way to get an overview of what newspapers are available for a specific area is to use the Family Search Wiki ( ). Just search for a state plus “newspapers.” You will get a list of online resources that includes both free and paid websites.


There are more newspaper resources available online than ever before. If it’s been awhile since you checked online newspapers, you may be amazed at what you find. Give it a try.


Carol Stetser