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Genealogy Records found in Newspapers

  • Birth Announcements
  • Engagements, Marriage, Anniversary & Divorce Records
  • Obituaries
  • Legal Notices
  • Family Reunions
  • Military Records
  • Passenger Lists
  • Photographs & Images
  • Shipping & Shipping Records
  • Community News Articles
    And much more!

How to Find Your Ancestors in Newspapers

Our newspaper archive was built through OCR technology. There are a few important points to remember:

  • Newspapers don't always include full first names. Your ancestors could be listed under an initial or salutation. Also, try last name variations.
  • Don't limit your search to just one newspaper. Newspapers often picked up stories and obituaries in former hometowns and in places where other family members lived.
  • If your family lived in a small town, look for a larger nearby city newspaper which might have included local news.
  • Don't limit your search to your direct ancestors. Search for the names of cousins, siblings, in-laws, and other family members who lived in the same area.

Newspaper Archives — Keys to tracing your family history

Newspaper searches often provide a major key in tracking down relatives and ancestors. Very often, historical newspapers published news stories and obituaries in the hometowns and locations where your family members lived and worked.

GenealogyBank is the largest and fastest growing newspaper archive for genealogy and family history research. 95% of our newspapers are exclusive to GenealogyBank, which means you will discover new facts and stories about your ancestors not found elsewhere. Our online records include over 250 million newspaper obituaries and death records covering over 327 years from over 13,000 newspapers, some of which go all the way back to 1690!

GenealogyBank helps you review and search digitized newspaper clippings and full publications to learn more about your family history.  With every search, our newspaper archive search engine combs the entire newspaper for keyword matches including images found within articles. 

You can explore newspaper archives from large metropolitan cities as well as small towns from across all 50 states. So no matter where your ancestors lived, chances are good there are more than just a few stories of your descendants. 

Find old newspaper articles and stories about your family members and their accomplishments from graduations to weddings and more. Maybe they owned a business or had special standing in the community. Maybe they were longtime residents or performed relevant local functions. Whoever they were chances are there’s an article or photo (or more!) that’s relevant to your genealogy search.

Newspapers help build your family tree

Newspapers help you uncover stories and records about your ancestors that add depth to your family tree. Whether you start with a genealogy DNA test or search our newspaper collection, your family history journey is just beginning. GenealogyBank is your chance to flesh out a much fuller story—discover the news, relevant facts, and insights about your family and their daily lives. Our news archives can often help uncover where they’re from which will ultimately tell you more about where you’re from and who you are.

How are newspaper archives collected?

We've chosen Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology for building our comprehensive newspaper archives. The technology "reads" the pages and creates a text version of whatever a certain page contains. OCR is a technology that keeps developing, and professionals are continuously working on refining it to build archives of old newspapers that show a page’s accurate content. Each page is scanned and "read" separately so you can search specific information through old newspaper articles to find out about a particular event or person.

Once the text index is built for each page using sophisticated OCR technology, we feed all that information into our search system. You may then search through over two billion articles from all 50 states, dated from 1960 to today. The search options allow you to enter various details so you can get specific results.

What can we learn from historical newspapers?

Old newspapers make a powerful tool for genealogical research. Very often, when we research our ancestors, we dwell over the fact that we're unable to trace a birth certificate or some other personal record. Many people give up the research altogether at this point, thinking they will never find any information about their family history. However, by searching through an archive of old newspapers online, you may discover significant details about your relatives or ancestors, without ever seeing a birth certificate.

While newspapers always covered the major world and national news, they also contained a bulk of articles about local events and local people. Obituaries found in old newspapers can be a valuable resource of information. In addition to death notes, you can also find announcements for various life events, including personal events and gatherings such as marriage ceremonies, or marriage milestone celebrations. Engagement announcements also used to be very popular in the past, as well as birth announcements.

In these announcements, you can find relevant information about your ancestors and their family members. You can learn about the places where their most important ceremonies took place, the dates of their important milestones in life, as well as the names of the special guests and people of importance to your ancestors.

How does a newspaper archive search work?

Searching through our archives of newspapers isn't complicated. All you need is a little imagination and several facts to look up something from the past that interests you.

If you're looking for a specific person, you should keep in mind that not all old newspaper articles include the full names of the people they mention. First names are sometimes not included at all. Therefore, it recommended you start searching by the last name and various last name variations. The ancestor you want to know about may be mentioned in an article under their initials.

Sometimes, your direct ancestor won't be named at all, but you will be able to find something published about their children, parents, spouses, or siblings. Searching the names of family members often reveals important clues that give you a direction to follow in your search. It's also important to search newspapers from surrounding towns or counties too because they often publish stories about people from nearby places. When it comes to obituaries, they are often published in several town's newspapers: the previous town where the deceased used to live, the town where their surviving family members live, their hometown, etc.

Include as many details as you can in your newspaper search so you can get valuable results.

Why are these archives important?

Newspaper archives reveal your ancestor's daily lives and they represent a unique portal into the past. Local newspapers include much more than just important announcements. Very often, local articles from archives include town visitors, details about the settler's land and estate sales, and various advertisements.

They also allow you to explore major national and world events from the perspective of the local community. Old newspaper articles allow you to read about history first-hand, and get a glimpse of the way your ancestors lived through various times.

Local newspapers covered many significant events and devastating tragedies. They present you with an open window into the past so you can learn how the people of your ancestor's community lived through challenging times, and what role your ancestors had in the community. Newspapers cover events like WW1 and the civil war or the worldwide flu epidemic that lasted from 1917-1919. You will get a direct insight into history through the lens of your ancestor's local community.

Newspaper archives can be very useful for those looking for information on adoptees. Adoptions were often announced in the past and a local newspaper may hold the names of the biological parents and the date the adoption took place. In many cases, going through newspaper archives may be the only way you can get a clue about a certain adoption from the past.

Search your family name or an ancestor’s  name to get started!