Showing posts with label family history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family history. Show all posts

Monday, January 23

Free Newspaper Archives

One of the amazing things about diving in to family history research is discovering how often family members get mentioned in old newspaper articles.

Back in the days before the internet....heck! before the telephone!...newspapers reported everything about everyone! Small town publications, in particular, covered local news in great depth. Vital statistics like births, deaths and marriages were routinely reported. So were events like a new store opening, a job promotion, a noteworthy society party, a community picnic, a local ball game, or some darker family moments -- a barroom brawl, an arrest for public drunkenness, or even a murder or two somewhere deep in the family closet.

Happily, there are tons of online newspaper archives where you can poke around and find out what great-grandma and grandpa were up to back in the day. The US has done an especially impressive drop of moving historical archives online, but there are also sources in pretty much every corner of the globe, and in many different languages.

Free newspaper archives from the
US and around the world and both have wonderful and deep collections of historical newspapers with easy and powerful search tools to help find family members from long ago. These are both subscription services, but they offer free trials and worth a visit, even if you aren't inclined to subscribe (I subscribe to both, by the way...I think they're essential).

But there are also a ton of true free newspaper archives out there. FreeNewspaperArchives covers the US region by region, while XooxleAnswers has links to free historical newspapers listed by state. There are some wild and wonderful vintage newspapers listed at these sites, like the Civil War collections from Gettysburg, or if you prefer, South Carolina. There are even Revolutionary War era papers from New Hampshire and Virginia. But no need to venture back hundreds of years...many archives take you right up to modern times

Another XooxleAnswers page covers international newspaper archives from Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America, some in English and some in other languages. There are also pages of special collections, such as college newspaper archives, and free magazine archives.

Also check out online state archives. Almost all state collections have at least a smattering of news articles, and many of them offer deep newspaper archive collections that won't be found elsewhere.

No matter where your ancestors hailed from, and where they travelled to, there are hundreds of free newspaper archives available where you can search for their stories at no charge.

Thursday, July 31

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

Very neat handwriting, back in the day!

I love family history databases with millions of names in them. They make research so rewarding! 

One such data source is CWSS -- the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, maintained by the National Park Service. With more than six million names in the system, CWSS gives you an immediate sense of the vast scope of the Civil War. The entire population of the US at the time (North and South) only came to about 32 million or so.

CWSS shows the information on the General Index information source prepared from unit and regiment musters as a soldier or sailors service record.

The cards were also used after the war to figure pensions for Union Soldiers. Once you identify the microfilm role with a record of interest, an actual copy of the General Index Card can be ordered from the National Park Service.


Don't forget to also check for your family history at NewspaperArchive and These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots. And visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools.

Thursday, July 30

Immigration and Passenger Records

Thanks, Stephen P. Morse, whoever you are.

Morse's family history websites are one of the internet's real treasures. Users can search through the vast immigration and arrival records of all major US ports, including Ellis Island (1892-1924) and Castle Garden (1855-1891) in NY, and ports in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco and elsewhere. There are also records for crossings at the US-Canadian border.

If your ancestors arrived in the US by ship during the 19th or early 20th centuries, chances are good that you can find them on one of Morse's websites. Some flexible and powerful search tools allow you to search on a full or partial name, or even on a 'sounds-like' name, if you're not sure of the spelling. Searches can also focus on particular villages, towns, shtetls, cities or countries of origin, as well as ports of arrival or departure, within specified date ranges.

Search results include summary records, as well as actual images of ship manifests, immigration entry forms, and even pictures of many of the ships that carried passengers to the US.

All in all, an amazing resource that any genealogy researcher should become familiar with.

The Corinthian, steaming into port.

Wednesday, July 29

Google News Archives

Pretty much everyone knows about Google News. For many of us, it's the first stop for finding a news story from earlier in the day or week.

But did you know there is a deep (and I mean deep) Google News Archive here as well? Newspapers and other digitized materials going back to the 1700's. And Google has been adding new archives at a furious pace, so this is a resource tool to return to on a regular basis.

The Google search is free, of course. Most of the material that is archived is also free to access, but there are also links to materials, like articles from, Proquest, Lexis, or, that you have to pay a fee to access.

Use the advanced search feature to fine tune your search by zeroing on a particular date range, geographical area, or even a particular newspaper. You can choose to see all results, or only results that are available at no charge.

From Google News Archives: NY Times, June 1, 1911