Locating information about an ancestor in a newspaper can be a rewarding experience. However, knowing which newspaper was available during a certain time period and location has been a challenge.
Recent advances in technology provides the ability to search thousands of newspapers. Read this article for more about this. Since not all newspapers have yet been digitized, indexed, and published, researchers still need to know how to locate the newspaper for the right time period and location.
In the United States, the best resources have always been Ayers Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals and American Newspapers 1821-1936: A Union List. These are found at many larger libraries.
Now, the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, have made it possible to locate information about any newspaper in America through the Library of Congress website.
For example, David Clark BROWN died in Everett, Snohomish County, Washington in 1927. In the Search Directory section of the website, I was able to search for all newspapers in the city of Everett. I was even able to narrow the results to only show newspapers published between 1920 and 1930. It gave me a list of 6 newspapers:
- The Everett Daily Herald 1897-1963
- The Labor Journal 1909-1976
- The Rising Sun 1911-19??
- The Everett Weekly Herald
- Party Builder
- BudbÆreren (Seattle) 1918-1929
Now I had a list of several newspaper titles to search to locate a possible obituary. Next, clicking on the View Complete Holdings Information link, it gave me a list of all libraries/institutions that have a copy of the newspaper. Now I am armed with all the information I need to request to borrow the newspaper via Inter-Library Loan.
The Library of Congress and the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities even have plans to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers cover the years 1836-1922 from all U.S. states and territories. Their initial launch contains more than 226,000 pages of public-domain newspapers from California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, Virginia and the District of Columbia published between 1900 and 1910.
Access the new Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers site here.