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Information to Look for in Old Newspapers

Things to Look for in Old Newspapers  Find more genealogy blogs at FamilyTree.comPeople tend to think that old newspapers should go straight to the recycle bin. Genealogists, however, know that old newspapers could have treasures inside them! The stack of newspapers you found while cleaning a deceased relative’s home could have important information. There are many things to look for in old newspapers.

An old newspaper could contain an obituary of a relative or ancestor. Obituaries are a great resource for genealogists. It tells you the person’s full name (often including their “maiden name”), their date of birth, and their date of death. Many obituaries include a list of relatives of the deceased person (such as a spouse, children, and grandchildren). There could be information on where that relative was buried.

Sometimes, the obituary section of the newspaper will contain an obit of a famous person. The newspaper that is local to where that person was born might post an obituary. Check the dates on the obituary. Could your ancestor have gone to school with that famous person?

Special Occasions
Newspapers will post the exact date (or dates) that a special occasion took place. An old newspaper could contain a wedding announcement that shows when and where your relative got married. You might find that announcement in a newspaper that was printed a few weeks before the wedding took place.

Newspaper Editorials
Newspaper editorials are written by the editorial team of that newspaper. They are typically done in response to something politically related that has recently occurred – or that has a likely chance of happening soon. You could find interesting opinions about wars, elections, or local events.

Most editorials are well written and they all contain a very strong opinion about something noteworthy. The editorial you find in an old newspaper could give you insight into what life was like when your relative was young.

Years ago, it was common for newspapers to hold recipe contests. The winner would have her photo in the newspaper along with the food she cooked or baked. Her recipe could be printed in the newspaper article, too. Your search through an old newspaper could reveal a long lost family recipe.

High School Sport Events
Newspapers in states that place a lot of value in high school football will probably have some articles about how the local team was doing. Newspapers in other areas will, at the very least, post an article and some photos about the Homecoming game. Search the photos and the article for your relative’s name. He might have been on the football team. She could have been a cheerleader.

Related Articles at

* Small Town News

* Variety of Hometown Newspaper Resources

* New York Newspapers

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