Dedicated sports pages began appearing in US newspapers around the 1890s and quickly expanded. Even papers without separate sports sections reported sores and highlights of high school, community, semi-pro and professional games.
- Search for sporting relatives’ names, their team names, star players and rival teams in the digitized newspapers at the free Chronicling America website.
- Next, look for titles of local newspapers. Click on US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present, a searchable list of all known newspapers. Search by place and date range, then click on a result to see the paper’s dates of publication and geographic coverage, as well as libraries that have it.
- Once you find a title on Chronicling America, search online for the newspaper title to see if it’s been digitized on another website.
- Digitized searching in old newspapers isn’t entirely reliable. For most thorough results, spend some time browsing local newspaper issues that cover the time period your relative played.
- High school games may receive excellent coverage in small-town papers, especially for big matches and when teams or star players were doing well.
- Look for games, matches or tournaments in papers covering all teams represented at the event. You may find unique details, photos and statistics in a paper from “the other team’s” town.
- Community leagues may report scores at the back of the sports section in an agate, which features summary rows or columns with quick rundowns of scores or stats.