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Newspaper archives

Searching for Family History Using Newspaper Archives

Today many people are curious about their pasts. They want to find out where their family trees began and who their ancestors were. But did you know you can use newspaper archives for this?


It’s a growing trend around the world, finding your roots and the role prior generations of people played in your present existence.


The good news is that the search for your ancestors is easy thanks to the availability of recorded public records. 


Newspaper archives, library


How to Use Newspaper Archives to Search for Family History

Where to Start Your Search 


A good starting place in the search for your ancestors is with older relatives. Old pictures and scrapbooks with newspaper prints of personal achievements can provide a wealth of names related to you, and in many cases, you didn’t even know about.


After that, you can use those names to continue the search for your family’s history.


However, if you want to go further than identifying things such as family names and dates, and get into the personal lives of your ancestors, online newspaper archives like the Kalamazoo Gazette, for example, can prove very satisfying.    


working remotely, laptop, computer


General Information Available


Even if none of your ancestors became a president or a high dignitary, every person in history has had their name appear in a newspaper (since they were invented, at least) several times throughout their lives.


When someone had a baby, their child’s name appeared. When a couple tied the knot and got married, it appeared in the newspaper.


The newspaper also printed out information with regard to a couple’s divorce and legal name changes. Additionally, you can find out when a person related to you died and in most cases their cause of death.


The business section can also offer further clues as to the type of work an ancestor did. If they placed an ad looking for farm equipment they may have owned a farm or plantation.


If they placed any type of ad you can use this to gain valuable insight into their lives. 


Newspaper archives


Additional Information Obtained from Old Newspapers 


Old newspapers date back several centuries and can reveal many personal aspects of a person’s life, helping you to better understand where you are today. Remember that just 100 years ago the population was much smaller than it is now.


Small towns were plentiful and local newspapers loved reporting events within close-knit communities. It was, in fact, more personal time in history where, unlike today, finding out information on a family member was easy.


Church functions such as picnics, graduations, PTA meetings, and other social events were recorded. Receiving a ticket or a summons for a court appearance and crimes are also found in the preserved records.   


Old photo


Tracking The Earliest Beginnings In the States 


Most peoples’ families began in other countries. Reviewing immigration records is an essential part of your search for finding out where your ancestors originated.


For instance, many of the ships that docked at various ports in the United States had a list of passengers as well as the ship’s contents.


While some of the names have changed a bit, you can still use this to uncover the country from where they came. This can help to extend your search into your past to countries such as Ireland, Germany, Ecuador, India, etc.


Once you discover the village or town of origin you can take a trip to places such as Ireland and see the beautiful countryside, old castles, and review their recorded records. 


There are hundreds of thousands of newspapers that contain an abundance of information for people who lived in the United States for the past three hundred years.


While many people choose to use their DNA, recorded records are just that. They can provide information that leads you on a wonderful journey that leads straight to your first ancestors. 


In Closing


Remember, you can track a lot of information down about your family history using newspaper archives. Just a little dedication and some patience, and you’ll be amazed at what you might find.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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