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Newspapers for Ancestry Research

Historical newspapers can be an invaluable resource for researching your ancestry.  Newspapers contain a wealth of information including marriage announcements, obituaries, advertisements for stores your ancestor may have owned, runaway slave ads, articles about events occurring at the time your ancestor lived in that location, notices about family reunions and who attended them, church office and government office appointments, criminal announcements, and more.  I can’t stress enough how much it is worth your while to search historical newspapers.  You might find information directly related to your ancestor.  But at the very least, you will learn about the events occurring in the community and get a feel of the social, cultural, economic, and political environment in the town where they lived when they lived there.

In many cases, historical newspapers have long been out of print.  In that case, you can find online resources through websites such as Newspapers.com, NewspaperArchive.com, and GenealogyBank.com.  It was through one of these sites that I found a copy of a runaway slave advertisement that was placed about my 5th great grandfather.  The National Archives and Records Administration has an online database of over 1,000 historical newspapers with full text that can be accessed for free through FamilySearch.org.  You may also be able to find archives of newspapers at local libraries and local historical societies.  Many local libraries also offer free access to some of the paid research sites.

However, there a some newspapers (more than you might think) that have been in print for over 200 years and still are today.  For those publications, you can contact the newspaper publisher directly and may be able to retrieve copies of archives.  Some newspapers that began publication over 150 years ago and are still in print today are in the following list.  If your ancestor lived in the general vicinity of any of the following areas, it will likely be well worth your while to give the publication a call and ask for archives copies of editions that were printed when your ancestor lived in the area.

 

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Member of MENSA, Association of Professional Genealogists, and Author’s Guild. Avid history and genealogy explorer, blogger, lecturer, and author of “All-In-One Basic to Advanced Guide to Genealogy & Ancestry History Research”. President/Director of Society for History and Research Education (S.H.A.R.E.).

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