Many researchers consider newspapers’ importance only for obituary or death notices. Such publications provide so much more!
Although they have been known to contain errors, newspapers that were published in the area where an ancestor lived may also contain information that genealogists seek, such as marriage and engagement notices, birth announcements, notes of thanks (from families of deceased persons conveying appreciation for sympathies expressed), legal notices, news of military personnel (casualties, honors, etc.), advertisements of an ancestor’s business, and personal news items, such as trips, graduations, anniversaries, visitors, etc.
Although researchers are always seeking indexes to newspaper articles, it is also important to read such publications page-by-page. Many libraries have local newspapers on microfilm and can obtain others on interlibrary loan.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has an extensive collection of Illinois newspapers — with more than 5,000 titles contained on 100,000 rolls of microfilm — from every one of Illinois’ 102 counties. To determine what newspapers are available for any Illinois city, visit the library’s website at http://www.alplm.com and then click on “library.” Under “collections,” click on “newspapers on microfilm,” then “holdings,” then “Illinois Newspapers by City.” At that website, one can also read/download Illinois Files by County, Illinois Missing Issues, Out-of-state Newspapers, Foreign Newspapers, and Civil War Newspapers Holdings 1861-1865. Information is also provided for borrowing such microfilm on interlibrary loan.
Links to newspapers
There are several Internet websites that provide links to newspapers. For example, Carol A. Singer of Ohio’s Bowling Green State University is the author of Historical Newspapers Online at http://libguides.bgsu.edu/content.php?pid478027.
One of her links is to Joe Beine’s (who’s often mentioned in this column) website, Historical Newspapers and Indexes on the Internet–USA at http://www.researchguides.net/newspapers.htm.
Her link to national, state and local newspaper archives provides further links to lists of individual states’ newspapers. Some state lists are lengthy enough to warrant an entire website (such as for the states of Illinois and New York). Her observations are worth noting. For example, the New York Times archives “from before 1923 and after 1986 are free of charge; in between those years, there is a fee. This is one of the Internet’s best archives.”
On a personal note, a New York State website that I find most helpful is called Old Fulton New York Post Cards, but is listed under Singer’s link as Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages, 18th–20th Centuries. This website, created by one individual, Thomas M. Tryniski, enables one to search more than 26 million old New York state historical newspaper pages. The site is free; all he requests “is a smile and a little courtesy.” Be sure to read the FAQ (frequently asked questions), including tips and solutions.
Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing JBGriffis@aol.com