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Ten tips for more success with newspaper research

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You can find access to historic newspapers through local county and university libraries. Many newspapers have been made available through online databases at:

What do you do once you gain access to a newspaper that may contain information about your ancestor? The following tips will help you:

  1. Make sure the newspaper covers the years that your ancestor was living, but do not assume that your ancestor’s name will not appear in a newspaper article years after his death. George Epps Tucker died in 1927, but an article appeared in The State paper on June 5, 1949 recounting a story about him once owning the first car in Union, South Carolina.
  2. Comb through each issue that was published during the life of your ancestor or the time your family lived in the area.
  3. If you are too hasty, you may totally miss important clues.
  4. Do not assume that news about your ancestor was only covered in the local paper. If your family migrated to different areas, you may find obituaries or other announcements included in newspapers where they used to live.
  5. Browse through issues page by page because you will become more familiar with the people and local history of an area this way as opposed to relying on searching names in indexes alone.
  6. Search for articles or announcements about births, deaths, and marriages.
  7. Search the names of parents, spouses, children, siblings and every known extended family member. If available, compare the city directory that matches the year of the newspaper issue you are searching. This will help you know which family members might appear in any given issue.
  8. The society section may help you to know when family members come to visit or travel to other places.
  9. Search out articles on your ancestor’s church and church related events.
  10. Read about the history of local events especially wars, local politics, state of the economy, crimes, and epidemics.

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