Research by Subject: Genealogy
Using Historical Newspapers

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Using Historical Newspapers Main Page - Finding which newspaper

- Is the paper online? - free collections online



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
Dick Livingston
R. Livingston Jr.

Smitty Levingston
Red Livingston
Mr. Livingston
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