Genealogists often shy away from searching through old newspapers because it requires digging up the names of sometimes-obscure titles, and often traveling to the library and enduring lots of microfilm-scrolling. And most of us seem to assume our ancestors weren’t newsworthy, anyway.
In an excerpt on his Web site, Pinnick ticks off the benefits of historical newspapers for African-American researchers in particular: articles that associate an ancestor with a slaveholding family, birth and death dates before vital records were kept, freed slaves’ notices seeking information about loved ones, society pages with family members’ comings and goings.
A few additional resources for African-American newspapers (feel free to click comment and add others you know of):
- ProQuest Black Newspapers, a database available free through many public libraries—see a description here
- Chronicling America, a Library of Congress site with digitized newspapers including Washington, DC’s The Colored American
- Freedom’s Journal, published in New York City, is digitized at the Wisconsin Historical Society Web site.
- African-American Newspapers (1829-present), information from Princeton University on 200 papers published in 31 cities.
- Local and state historical societies are good sources of microfilmed African-American newspapers published in the area (for example, here is a list of 80 titles available at the Kansas Historical Society). You might be able borrow papers on microfilm through interlibrary loan.