Although the most important piece of information you should know in starting your newspaper search is where your ancestor resided, the search engine becomes especially helpful. Being able to research online databases allows us to discover long-lost relatives who were living in unexpected places and involved in stories we never imagined. Small town dailies are often the only place where the lives of so many are so closely detailed. In the years before international and national news filled big city papers, even they had room to tell about the local heroes, creditor’s claims to estates, stories of local businesses, voter lists, visitors, a duel, a stolen watch, a broken leg or other surprising stories. There simply isn’t a better place to see what was going on in the lives of individuals and families in your family tree and in your ancestor’s community.
Historical newspapers give us the remarkable ability to see history through eyewitness accounts. They are the day-to-day diaries of community events and include stories of the famous and ordinary people.
Beyond much-sought obituaries, newspapers tell us about births, marriages, engagements, school, sports and organizational events, accounts of accidents, and what was going on in the local courts and more. In addition, millions of pages of information about our ancestors have been published in a wide variety of periodicals.