Search Newspapers on GenealogyBank

Search Newspapers on GenealogyBank

Newspapers report all the major events in our lives: births, marriages, deaths, political events, business and sports news, criminal offenses and even local gossip. Few sources provide a better insight into our ancestors’ daily lives than newspapers. Until recently, you had to browse microfilm to find articles mentioning your ancestors...

Newspapers report all the major events in our lives: births, marriages, deaths, political events, business and sports news, criminal offenses and even local gossip. Few sources provide a better insight into our ancestors’ daily lives than newspapers. Until recently, you had to browse microfilm to find articles mentioning your ancestors, but online newspapers now make it easy to search through millions of pages at once.


GenealogyBank, $69.95 per year, has one of the largest online collections of American newspapers. They include more than 6,100 titles from all 50 states, and date from 1690 to the present.
 
The search form at the top of GenealogyBank’s home page lets you search all of its collections at once. Scroll down to select a specific collection. Historical Documents include the American State Papers and the US Serial Set (both of which you also can search for free on the Library of Congress’s American Memory site). Historical Books is a small collection, made up mostly of funeral sermons and vintage advertisements. The Social Security Death Index covers primarily deaths from 1962 to the present and is available on other sites for free, such as FamilySearch.org

 
Newspapers are GenealogyBank’s big draw. It has two collections: Newspaper Archives 1690-2010 and Recent Newspaper Obituaries 1977-Today. You can search them separately or cover both of them with the search form on the home page. Click on Newspaper Titles to browse the list of available newspapers and, optionally, to search a specific title of all the papers from a particular state. A search of the Newspaper Archives covers African-American and Irish-American newspapers, but the newspaper search pages have links to search those collections separately.
 
Follow these steps to find articles mentioning your ancestors:
 
1. Start with a name. You might search on just a last name if it’s unusual, or add a first name to narrow search results for a common surname. You’ll get a match whenever the terms you enter in the Last Name and First Name boxes appear within two words of each other in an article. This proximity search finds the names whether or not they’re separated by a middle name or middle initial. To see the results, click the Search Now button and select a collection (if you have matches in more than one).
 
Also try searching for a person’s name as a phrase surrounded by quotation marks in the Include Keywords search box. Optionally, add a range of years, such as 1880 to 1910 or July 1880 to January 1910. Or select Date and enter a year, such as 1880, or a specific date, such as July 4, 1880.
 
2. Refine search results if you get too many matches. You might add a middle name or a middle initial. John H. Pennington was also known as J. H. Pennington. The search form ignores periods. To search on more than one variation of a name at a time, separate them by OR.

3. Add keywords to focus your search on the most relevant matches. Think of a term closely associated with your target person, such as an occupation, place name or spouse’s name. Use quotation marks to find exact phrases. John H. Pennington was involved in building railroads in Latin America, and you can find articles about him by searching on his last name plus his employer name, “South American Transportation” (use quotation marks to find the exact phrase), and places where he lived, such as Bogota, Colombia and “South America.” In addition to his business exploits, his scandalous personal life made the headlines, too. Searching on his last name plus bigamy OR divorce turns up several articles detailing a series of marriages and an affair with a married woman.

4. Browse the matches. By default, the most relevant matches are listed first. You can also sort them by date of publication starting with the earliest or most recent one. In the list of matches, click on a title or a newspaper preview image to view the whole article.

5. View the article. Your search terms are highlighted. Click the Highlights box to turn highlighting on or off. To search for a word in the article, enter it in the box and click the Find button. Several buttons appear above the newspaper image on the right. Use the first ones to zoom in and out. Click on the newspaper page icon to view the whole page and select an article. Click on the crosshairs icon to reset the image view to the original zoom level. The last icon toggles between Maximize and Minimize Image View. When the image is minimized, you can select links to view the whole newspaper page or jump to another page in the issue.

6. Print or save the article. If you click the PDF button to save the article as a PDF file, it won’t include a citation. Click on Print for a printer-friendly version. Then you can print it or right-click on the image (control-click on a Mac) and select Save Image As to save it as a graphical image file on your computer with a source citation.

 
From the January/February Family Tree Magazine 

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