Hola amigos: Online digital newspapers adds branches to your genealogy tree. Every part of history: births, marriages, death notices, obituaries, social events, sporting events, church activities and affiliations, occupations, legal notices, land sales, taxation, military service, businesses, and advertisements has been chronicled in newspapers. ES
By James Tanner
Throughout the world, local and national organizations, including governments, are realizing that much of their national heritage, culture and history has been chronicled in newspapers. Most newspapers have been printed on cheap paper and deterioration of the paper is threatening to have newspapers disappear before they are preserved. As a result, newspaper digitization projects are popping up all over the world and millions of pages of national and local newspapers are being preserved with access online. Genealogists benefit from this huge influx of searchable online images through the information that in contained in the newspapers. Some of the types of information that may be found include articles about births, marriages, death notices, obituaries, social events, sporting events, church activities and affiliations, occupations, legal notices, land sales, taxation, military service, businesses, and advertisements. See FamilySearch Research Wiki, Digital Historical Newspapers.
In the past, doing research in newspapers was exceedingly tedious. The researcher essentially had to read all through page after page and day after day of newspapers hoping to find some relevant details. Today, most of the online newspaper archives are completely searchable by any word in the newspaper. Searching for an ancestor’s name is no more difficult than it is searching in Google or any other online search engine. Some of the larger collections charge a fee for searching, but there are other large collections that are free.
Although a complete list of sources is unlikely to exist, for a comprehensive list of online digital archives, start with the Wikipedia article, List of online newspaper archives. From this long list of sources you can see that countries as diverse as Malawi and Mexico have online collections. Some of the country’s collections are impressively large, others are limited to one or two larger newspapers. Some of the sites, like that of the National Library of New Zealand, have free and very comprehensive archives. Other notable country collections include those listed in the British Columbia Digital Library from Canada. Another source of lists of digital newspaper sources is Cyndi’s List. Search for digital newspapers.
Originally Google.com was very much involved in a newspaper digitization project. However, Google has since abandoned the project although it still has some historic newspapers on its site. You can access the remains of the Google newspaper archive by clicking on the “News” menu from the Google homepage. At this point, you have to enter your search term or terms. Once you do a search additional options will appear on the left-hand side of the Google screen. These include an option to search the Archives or to search for a custom date range. Depending on the jurisdiction and Google’s coverage, you can find historic newspaper articles dating back into the 1800s.
About the time Google stopped adding to its online newspaper collection, the Library of Congress began ramping up its Chronicling America, Historic American Newspapers project. At the time of this post, the Library of Congress had almost 5 million pages of digitized newspaper images in most of the U.S. states. New images are being added regularly. See FamilySearch Research Wiki, Library of Congress Chronicling America. An advanced search will let you find articles containing an ancestor’s name. The Chronicling America site also has a listing of nearly all of the newspapers published in America with an explanation of where copies of the newspapers can be found. Some of the U.S. states have fairly comprehensive online digitized collections. Notable among the online archives are Utah Digital Newspapers, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, and the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection.
There a notable collections of digitized newspapers from the British Newspaper Archive.. The British Newspaper Archive has almost 5 million pages and is administered by brightsolid, one of the largest genealogical companies in the world. You can search the Archive, but you have to pay to download any copies of what you find. Another large British collection is the 19th Century British Library Newspapers digital archive which is available for free through the Family History Centers.
Many of the other large commercial genealogical websites also have extensive collections of digitized newspapers. There are also huge collections in websites that are not particularly dedicated to genealogy. In these sites, there is usually a fee associated with searching and/or downloading images. The two big sites that have digitized records are Ancestry.com and WorldVitalRecords.com. For example, WorldVitalRecords.com claims to have more than 100 million pages of newspapers from 1739 to the present. Both of these sites are free at Family History Centers.
Another very large collection of digitized newspapers is available from NewsBank.com. This collection of digitized newspapers may be the largest in the U.S. but the site, in addition to be commercial, is available only through universities and libraries. The company does have a consumer product called GenealogyBank.com. This website is also commercial and has a fee, but it is less expensive that a NewsBank.com prescription.
You cannot consider a search for a lost relative to be complete until you spend the time to search through all of the possible newspapers that might have written about your ancestor or the family. There is no reason, given the large and increasing number of newspapers going online, to skip this vital step in identifying your ancestors.