Some Search Tips for Online Newspapers
The earlier your search the broader geographic area you
should consider - If Grandpa came to Independence, Oregon in the 1850s when
hardly anyone was in Oregon he might be in the papers that are far from his
home. As more people arrive and more papers begin he is more likely
found in only the papers closer to home.
Most common kinds of things to find in the newspaper:
Marriages & Anniversaries
People in Trouble - you may find something
nobody has ever mentioned before!
Sports & School activities
People visiting family
Obituaries were much rarer in pre-civil war America though death notices
sometimes appeared that were short and to the point. This is usually
true of ancestors that lived in large cities as well but sometimes even
there you will get a great obituary.
Using the large sites & subscriptions sites
One advantage these have is that you can go broad in your
search. If your name is not overly common you can put in something
like Livingston Oskaloosa Iowa and you might get an obit for Grandpa's long
lost brother who died in California who mentions he was born in Oskaloosa or
has relatives there. When you are focused on only the local paper you
can miss these kinds of things.
General Search Tips
Don’t jump to the
conclusion that in 1880 everyone has finally learned to spell. Joseph
Shepherd may appear as Joseph Shepard one week, Joseph Sheppard another etc.
Even after people learned to spell their names in a uniform way newspapers
got them wrong all the time.
Small town papers were notorious for mentioning someone without giving their
full name. Your Grandpa’s name is Richard Smithson Livingston but the paper
mentions him as :
R. S. Livingstone
R. Livingston Jr.
so when you searched for Richard Livingston you didn’t find him.
Obituary keywords to try
born died sister brother daughter son cemetery interred
surviving funeral church