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					                                Newspapers – Why and Where
Newspapers are a primary source for genealogical information, such as death notices and
obituaries, marriage notices, birth notices, and divorce notices. But newspapers are also sources
for news articles, legal notices, features, or columns that may mention the name of a person of
interest. Even if you don't find any reference to your ancestor in the newspapers you will still
find enough information on the area that he lived and worked to give your family story added life
and substance.

The wealth of genealogical and biographical information to be found in an informative obituary
certainly makes the effort of searching for one worthwhile. For many of our ancestors, the
obituary is the only "biographical sketch" that was ever devoted to that individual. In addition to
names, dates, and places of birth, marriage, and death, the obituary often identifies relationships
of the deceased as child, sibling, parent, grandparent, etc., to numerous other individuals,
including the hard-to-find married names of females. Obituaries may even suggest other
documentation of an individual's death-a death certificate in another county because the hospital
was located there; church or cemetery records (by identifying the place of burial or the
officiating minister); or records of a coroner's inquest because the death was sudden or
unexpected. And, of course, the wealth of detail in an informative obituary may open up many
research avenues.

 In an obituary search, it is necessary to investigate the files of all likely newspapers. It is
impossible to know beforehand which, if any, paper is going to have the best or fullest obituary.
Today even the largest cities often have only one or two daily newspapers, but a century ago that
city may have had eight or ten, any one of which might have carried the death notice of your
ancestor. Even comparatively small communities had at least two papers-usually, one
Democratic and one Republican. Also, unlike today's papers, which often share a printing plant
or even editorial staff, older papers were often fiercely competitive, and each paper had its own
strengths of coverage.

While some original issues of newspapers are extant, most originals are too fragile to use, and as
a result many have been microfilmed and can be obtained on interlibrary loan. Some newspaper
abstracts have been published in book forms or may have appeared in various genealogical
periodicals. To determine which newspapers exist for your research area and where you can
access them consult what are called union catalogs. These identify which libraries or repositories
have what editions of particular newspapers. The Library of Congress has an excellent collection
of early American newspapers.

Many states have printed bibliographies or union catalogs on newspapers published within their
state. The state archives or library is the repository most likely to have such guides. They can
save you considerable time and frustration.
If the newspapers of interest to you have been indexed, it will make your research easy. But
many have not. To locate indexes for newspapers use: Milner, Anita Cheek. Newspaper Indexes:
A Location and Subject Guide for Researchers. 3 volumes. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press,
1977-82. At the SD State Library, Reference Collection: Z6951 A13 .M635

Remember ALWAYS record the newspaper's name and place of publication, the date of the
issue and the page and column number to authenticate the clipping.

Family History Center – February 2008   Finding Newspapers                       Page 1 of 3
To locate an historical newspaper, first we need to identify the name of the newspaper and the
name of the town where the newspaper was published. As a guide to what historic newspapers
exist today, the best and most up-to-date list is in a 3-volume publication by the Library of
Congress, Newspapers in Microform. It can be downloaded in PDF format at: This is not a list of
newspapers online, but newspaper titles available on microfilm, the years of coverage, and the
location of the originals – thus, a starting point for finding known newspaper publications that
might be online or for loan from the Family History Library or another library.

Doing a Google search of the newspaper title might also find a site or repository.

Online newspaper databases are increasing rapidly. There are regular updates to what is
happening in the world of genealogy, including frequent blogs related to the latest newspapers
going online, at Everton Publishers’

Current Newspapers Online:
U.S. Current Newspapers – some have archives:

Directory for Foreign Newspapers – current:

GeneaLinks Deaths & Obituary Index –2001 and forward:

Obituaries from 500 ‘leading’ newspapers:

Portals to Historic Newspapers Online:
Historical Newspapers and Indexes on the Internet – USA – by state

Cyndi’s List – alphabetical by name of newspaper, also a section to find obituaries only

Ancestor hunt - obits, newspapers, cemeteries:

Library of Congress Newspaper Archives/Indexes/Morgues:

Roots Web - States and where to look for their newspapers (at the bottom of page):

US Newspaper Program – another by-state link page:

Family History Center – February 2008   Finding Newspapers                       Page 2 of 3
Genealogy ‘Mega-Sites’:
Small Town Newspapers free on World Vital Records - alphabetical by name of newspaper
View All Databases>US databases>Small Town Papers Collection

ProQuest Historical Newspapers and ProQuest Civil War Era
Heritage Quest and ProQuest are available through the Family History Center or public

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Search Newspaper Pages or Search Newspaper Directory (to find a paper)

Historic Newspaper Archives – International Sites (concerning the U.S.:
Stars and Stripes (in France) -1918-1919

Civil war news from the London Times:

Family History Center – February 2008   Finding Newspapers                  Page 3 of 3

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