Newspapers are treasure troves for family research

(August 19, 2019)

Newspapers are a great resource for genealogy research. Although they are not primary resources, they provide clues for further research. From newspapers, researchers can learn about weddings, engagements, birthdays, estate sales, probate announcements, the names of people who moved from an area but had old letters waiting for them at the post office, residents who owed back taxes and locations where settlers lived.

A researcher can also learn about local communities and towns, epidemics, droughts, floods, businesses, schools, reunions and churches.

From newspaper obituaries, researchers can learn the names of spouses, children, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, nieces and nephews. They can also learn the location where each lived. Other details in obituaries are the name of the church that the person attended and the site of burial.

No online site provides access to all newspapers published in the United States. To find a specific newspaper, researchers need to check various sites. One of the best is The web site of the National Digital Newspaper Program is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The site provides free access to many digitized, searchable newspapers published in the U.S. between 1789 and 1922.

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