Finding your ancestors in newspapers can be very rewarding. You can find birth announcements, marriage announcements and obituaries. However, you can find out so much more than just vital statistics. Perhaps your ancestor had a run in with a dog when she was a little girl or perhaps your ancestor kept giving the police a hard time when he drank too much. Read more about what you can find out using newspapers for genealogy .
Where can you find newspapers archives? A large number of newspaper archives are on-line, many of them are free. Rather than create a large list of links to on-line newspapers, I’ve provided a small list of websites which have a large collection of newspaper links. In addition, I’ve provided some Google search ideas and examples to find newspapers where your ancestor came from.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has an on-going project called Chronicling America. In their on-line digital collection there are more than 700 different newspapers, from about 25 different states and the District of Columbia.
One of the neat things about the Library of Congress project Chronicling America is that it goes beyond just digital collections. The library of Congress has been tracing down the locations of all known newspapers in the United States which were published from 1690. I was unaware of any newspapers published from my small town of Oxford, Connecticut but I took a look using their search engine. There were two newspapers published in Oxford. When you click on the results which come up, it will tell you where the newspapers are currently located. In my case both newspapers are currently located at the Connecticut State Library.
Wikipedia:List of online newspaper archives
Wikipedia has gathered a tremendous amount of newspaper archive links. There are newspaper archives from almost every state and the District of Columbia. If you are looking for foreign newspapers there are more than 40 countries listed including Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and France.
Some of the newspaper archives listed on Wikipedia you will have to pay for but many are available for free. If you do some digging some of the newspapers they indicate as having to pay for you can get for free. Wikipedia lists the Hartford Courant Newspaper archives as a pay site. Since I live here in Connecticut and have a library card, I can get access to this for free at Iconn.org .
Cindi’s List – Newspapers
Everyone who’s done a lot of genealogy knows about Cindi’s List. Cindi’s list has a tremendous amount of links pointing to newspapers of today as well as archives. There are more than 500 links to newspapers of yesterday and today on the site.
Where Else Can You Find Newspaper Archives?
If you haven’t found a newspaper that you’re looking for in any of the sites listed above it’s time to do some Google searching. Many state libraries have digital collections which include newspapers. Let’s look for some newspapers from the state of Wisconsin. Using Google I looked for “wisconsin state library newspapers”. At the top of the search was not the Wisconsin State Library’s website but an entry for the Wisconsin Historical Society. They have more than 11,000 bound volumes and 100,000 reels of microfilm. It doesn’t seem like any of these are on-line, but it can help you plan a research trip.
Going back to the results from the Google search we did for “wisconsin state library newspapers” you will notice a number of other results which are good candidates for websites which have Wisconsin Newspapers. One of those was BadgerLink . If you happen to live in Wisconsin and have a library card you can get access to the on-line collections. You can scroll through the other search results to see if there are any more useful sites which come up.
Let’s try a different approach now to find additional newspapers. Many large universities have a good deal of newspaper collections. Let’s do a Google search for “university of georgia newspaper archives”. The top result when I ran this query was University of Georgia Libraries . It doesn’t appear any of the newspapers here are on-line but this is another good tool to plan a research trip.
Going back to the Google results from “university of georgia newspaper archives”, there was a result for Digital Collection of Georgia . This website contains a number of on-line searchable newspapers from Georgia. Some of the newspapers in this collection were published as early as 1808.
The possibilities of forming a Google Search for newspaper archives are nearly endless. I’ve found many newspapers relative to the area I was looking in by searching for Libraries, Historical Societies and Universities from the area. The best results I had was when I includes “newspaper archive” in my searches. Below are some examples for searching.
- Connecticut State Library Newspaper Archive
- Florida State Historical Society Newspaper Archive
- University of Tennessee Newspaper Archive
When you’re forming your search around an area, you can substitute the town, city or county instead of the state. If you know the large universities from the area, you can specify the “(university name) newspaper archives”.
Take the time now to find a newspaper from where your ancestor lived. Search for your ancestors in newspapers and you will be rewarded with stories you could never get from just names and dates. Even if you don’t find your ancestors in the newspapers you can read about the happenings in their town which certainly influenced their lives.