Finding Newspaper Records

by Ruby Coleman

Even though breaking news can be watched on several television channels throughout the day and night, I still enjoying picking up a newspaper to read that and more. It's the "more" that usually interests the genealogist.

Various routes can be taken to locate newspapers. Old newspapers are often archived in either local libraries or historical societies, in state libraries or archives and some are even archived in newspaper offices. Links to newspapers on Internet can be found at places such as, Internet Public Library: Newspapers link.

Newspaper office addresses and phone numbers can be found on Internet by typing in the location and name (if known) in a search engine. Google has a feature known as "Local" which will allow you to search by "newspaper" and then a location (town or city and state).

Locating libraries can be done by contacting you own library for information on names a nd locations where you are researching, or at various Internet web pages, such as Libweb-Library WWW Servers link. The Library of Congress web page has a listing of state libraries at link.

Search web pages for state archives and libraries and you will learn more about their newspaper collections and indexing and filming projects. A good example of this is the web page regarding newspapers at the Illinois State Historical Library, link.

Scanned images of newspapers can be found on Internet. Some allow the viewer free access and others require subscription fees. Examples of the free newspapers on Internet are:

Utah Digital Newspapers - link

The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) link

Even if you have no ancestors in early Virginia, take a look at the scanned images of The Virginia Gazette. They are interesting to read just for historical information.

The Boston Pilot newspapers from October 1831 through October 1921 printed a column known as "Missing Friends." This contained advertisements from people looking for lost friends and relatives who had emigrated from Ireland. There are more than 31,438 records available in an online searchable index at Information Wanted, link. While this is an index to advertisements in the newspaper and not scanned images, it may give you a head start in locating your Irish ancestors.

Among the subscription areas on Internet, researchers can find over seven million pages from over 500 different newspapers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom at, link.

Check with your local library to see if they offer access to ProQuest's newspapers on Internet. This is available only through libraries and educational facilities. Some of the offerings include the New York Times, 1851-2001; Washington Post, 1877-1987 and the Chicago Tribune, 1849-current.

Obits at link is an excellent area to check for extracts of newspaper obituaries. They offer obituaries and death notices for over 500 United States newspapers. Searches can be performed by looking for a specific name or names and locations in the text. While researchers can search free, the results must be purchased on a per article basis. at link offers over 600 searchable United States newspapers and other news sources, such as magazines. The results are extracts of the text. Like the Obits, searching is free and researchers must pay per article for results.

Older newspapers can be found at Accessible Archives, l ink. This is available through libraries and educational institutions as well as personal subscriptions. Some of the newspapers available here at the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728-1800 and Liberator, 1831-1865. In addition they offer several African-American newspapers of the 19th century and Civil War newspapers.

An excellent and affordable portal to many of these newspapers is at the Godfrey Memorial Library web page, link. They offer an annual membership to access tens of millions of newspapers, including all of the above that are mentioned and more.

When searching newspapers, keep in mind that up until about the mid-20th century, newspapers referenced women by their husband's name, such as Mrs. Paul Jones. News from one state may appear in another state's newspaper, so check other locations by broadening the area. Try different spellings and combinations when searching newspapers on Internet. Enjoy the news of the day whether is it is then or now. The fun is just beginning!

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