- Historical Newspapers (including historical obituaries)
- Historical Books
- Historical Documents
- Recent Newspaper Obituaries
- Social Security Death Index
However, you may want to begin with a more refined search for the specific individual you are looking for. Some genealogists begin their family research by first examining only obituaries, a good way to start filling in the dates on their family trees (for an illustrated, step-by-step explanation of how to do this in GenealogyBank, read the article Search Tips: Finding All the Obituaries and Death Records in GenealogyBank from the January 2011 issue of GenealogyBank News).
Keep in mind, however, that birth notices are another excellent way to start filling in your family tree. To find these valuable records, of course, you need to concentrate your search on newspapers. (For a complete list of GenealogyBank's newspaper titles and dates of coverage, click here.)
To begin your search for birth notices, click on the Historical Newspapers (1690-2007) link on the bottom half of the GenealogyBank home page, where all five collections are listed:
This brings you to the search form for the historical newspapers collection, which has some powerful features including a handy U.S. map to make your searching quick and easy. (When you use this search form, you're only searching GenealogyBank's historical newspapers, not its other four collections—they each have their own search form.)
Note that every state is listed under the U.S. map—this handy feature allows you to refine your search to all the newspapers in one state, one city, or one specific title (for an illustrated, step-by-step explanation of how to do this in GenealogyBank, read the article Search Tips: Using GenealogyBank's Search Engine to Research One State, City or Newspaper from the December 2010 issue of GenealogyBank News).
For now, let's do the broadest possible search to quickly show you how to find birth notices. Enter "Smith" in the "Last Name" box and click on the big green "Begin Search" button:
The resulting Search Results Page shows that we have the (not surprisingly) huge number of 13,731,234 news articles about someone named "Smith," with five results per screen. The "Sort by" option lets you arrange the articles by "Newest items" or "Oldest items." Look along the left-hand side of the Search Results Page where the newspaper articles are sorted by categories—with "Birth Notice" being one of the choices. You can target your search by clicking on the "Birth Notice" link to read only the 2,890 Smith birth notices:
Newspapers have been announcing births since the 1700s. It is common to see birth notices in newspapers all across the country, like this one for triplets ("three fine Boys") born to Mrs. Rust of Wolfeboro, NH, in 1796. It appeared in the Massachusetts Mercury on Oct. 14, 1796:
You'll find thousands of birth notices in GenealogyBank's historical newspaper archive, from the colonial period right up to recent times. Newspapers often had regular columns for all area births, sometimes listed by the name of the hospital. These notices often give the names of the child, parents, and even grandparents. However, since the name of the child is not always given, try searching for them by the name of the parents or simply the surname if the search on the child's name yielded no results. You may limit your search by date or place to see if the birth of the child you are looking for was published in the newspaper.
Not only are they a great resource for family history, but birth notices can be fun to read. Some are written in a humorous, familiar style, such as this one from the Dallas Morning News on Nov. 23, 1971, announcing that Stephen's keenly-anticipated brother has finally arrived:
This birth notice, from the Dallas Morning News on Nov. 19, 1978, gives a wealth of family information, including the newborn's name, his brother, parents, four grandparents, three great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandmother!
Newspapers are a great source for finding the historical records that document your ancestors' lives and help you fill in your family tree; with news articles, obituaries, and birth and marriage notices, you can find out more than you ever thought possible. Have fun searching—and good luck with your family history research!