How can I find my relatives in newspapers? Why are newspapers so important in learning about my ancestors? Have you ever seen a Historical newspaper?
If your family research is at a standstill or you are hitting a brick wall, try searching for your family member in a local newspaper.
The first continously published newspaper in what is now America has been around since 1704 when the Boston Newsletter was begun. You can find newspapers in every city, town, hamlet and around the world. They report births, deaths, social events, classifieds, crimes and more. They tell you how your relatives lived and worked. If your ancestor owned a business, maybe he or she would advertise just as we do today.
Other information reported in a historical newspaper can be ship departures, runaway slaves and rewards, legal notices, auctions, meetings, lawsuits, sheriff's sales, accidents, fires and so forth.
The Newton County Library on Floyd Street has several newspapers on microfilm. You can find them in the Heritage Room. There is a volunteer on duty most days to help you locate what you are looking for. There are limited indexes to the microfilm.
Knowing a specific period and, particulary, a specific year will help you browse through the Covington News more efficiently. For example, the library has the Georgia Enterprise from 1868-1909, while it has The Covington News issues from 1909-2009. There are no indexes for these two newspapers.
There are Atlanta Journal papers from 1985 - 2004, and, yes, there are indexes for this paper.
Another example is the Augusta Chronicle and Georgia Advertiser, which you can find issues of between 1786 and 1834. The indexes are located on the shelves in the heritage room. If you visit out of town libraries, always check to see if they have historical newspapers available.
There are also free and paid internet sites which offer historical newspapers. There are different ethnic newspapers that report to a specific ethnic group. These types of newspapers are invaluable to you as a family researcher. Remember, there are millions of newspaper pages digitized and available online.
How do I find and search historical newspapers?
Genealogybank.com is one of the leading paid subscription site that gives you access to more than 6,000 newspapers. You won't believe the information you can gather about your ancestors through historical newspapers.
Ancestry.com also has a variety of newspapers to search. Remember, you can gain access to Ancestry.com free at your local library.
ProQuest, also available for free at your local library, has a variety of newspaper such as Atlanta Journal, 1990 - current, L.A. Times. 1985 - current, N.Y. Times. 1980 - current, and many more.
At chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, you can search and view newspaper pages from 1880 to 1922, as well as a catalogue of American newspapers published between 1690 and the present.
At familysearch.org, a free search site, you can search by keyword for your particular county and state in the Family Search catalog. Microfilm can be ordered online or from any Family History Center. We have a local Family History Center in Conyers at 1275 Flat Shoals Road. Always check with the center for days and hours of operation by calling (770) 922-7426.
Lisa Louise Cooke has a book out titled "How to Find your Family History in Newspapers," which goes in depth and guides you every step of the way. You can find this book at her website, lisalouisecooke.com.
Before you begin your search through the vast amount of historical newspapers, you might want to sit down and record some pertinent information, including:
1. Who you are looking for?
2. The timeframe, location and relatives' names involved.
3. Always make good notes as to your findings
4. Document your sources
5. What your next steps will be.
Ellen Blakeslee is a professional Genealogist living in Covington. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.