I have had quite a bit of success myself with newspapers. In fact, I even found a newspaper article proving that indeed I was hit by a car when I was three. I had no idea that this event made the paper. And, I had no idea the event occurred around Christmas, and that the driver was a hit-and-run driver.
So, to help you find success in searching newspapers, the following are a few tips from Jason's class. If you ever get a chance, take Jason's class! Look for upcoming expos sponsored by the Family History Expos, coming to a city near you.
- Newspapers are excellent sources for finding women. Also search by husband's name, as some women were listed as "Mrs. William F. Butler."
- Just don't search birth or death information, search milestone events such as anniversaries. You might even find a 50-year wedding anniversary celebration complete with a photo.
- Don't forget newspapers when searching for African-American ancestors who may have been slaves. Many slave owners would publish information about runaways, captures, and would also provide physical descriptions.
- Be creative in your word searches. Some newstypes might not have converted properly to text when they were OCR'd (scanned and converted to text via optical character resolution). Example: Worley could have been OCR'd as Warley.
- Find out how many newspapers were published for the locality you are searching. You might find more information in one newspaper than you'll find in another.
- If you know your ancestor died of an accident or some other unusual means, it may have made the news. Check for articles about the event.
- Newspapers are "secondary" sources, so be sure and find "primary" sources to back up your work (i.e. birth and marriage certificates, etc.)
Here's a few online sites to get you started:
- Library of Congress - Chronicling America -good first place to start to find newspapers in your locality. Look for the tab "Libraries that have it." (No links to online sources given, unfortunately.)
- Worldcat.org will help you find libraries who carry your newspaper. Try using interlibrary loan to request newspapers from other libraries.
- Wikipedia's "Newspaper Archives Online" - offers listings of newspapers in the US and Worldwide.
- RefDesk.com has a listing of newspapers in the US and Worldwide as well, but the links are to mostly current newspaper sites (as opposed to their archives).
- NewspaperArchive.com - ($) US and World newspapers from 1753 to present. Free 7-day trial.
- GenealogyBank.com - ($) 1690-2007 US newspapers, 30-day free trial.
- Ancestry.com - ($) US and World.
- Footnote.com - ($) US and UK (London Times)
- ObitsArchive.com - Obituaries from 1980 to present. Search index for free, and $2.95 per article. No photos - just text.
- Obituaries.com - ($) US and Canada - mostly newer entries.
- Online 25 min. video on Newspaper Research in the US, offered, by Familysearch.org.