Tips for Using Newspapers.com

Updated on May 22, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics, researching, and information for library users and librarians.

An Example of Information You Can Find

Source

Newspapers.com Is a Valuable Source of Information for Genealogists and Historians

I expanded my Ancestry.com subscription to include the Newspapers.com, and that opened up a wealth of information about my ancestors' lives. Right away, I found some great articles about my great-grandparents in the early 1900s era. These were sometimes just fun items or social events, but others gave solid information about a business the ancestor owned, the names of their children, court cases like a divorce, and the ever-so-valuable obituaries.

Digging deeper using my search skills as a librarian, I found further information that I missed in my early searches. That's why I'm sharing here some tips for getting more from your Newspapers.com subscription. I don't want you to miss any valuable news pieces that might break through some brick walls in your family tree.

Here's the Homepage for Newspapers.com

Start by clicking on SEARCH. Fill in your name or search term, then click ADD MORE INFO. You can put a place name and date or range of dates like 1860 - 1865.
Start by clicking on SEARCH. Fill in your name or search term, then click ADD MORE INFO. You can put a place name and date or range of dates like 1860 - 1865. | Source

Try Variations of a Name

James Perkins might be mentioned in an article as:

James Perkins, J.G. Perkins, Jas Perkins, by a middle name, by a nickname, or as Mr. Perkins

Tips to Improve Your Search

  • Use a question mark as a wild card in a name that might be misspelled in the paper. Instead of Dimmick, you could put Dim?k. That will bring up the name even if it is incorrect in the paper and is Dimick or Dimmik.
  • A wild card for just one letter is an *. The example they give is for a Scandinavian name where they aren't sure if it is spelled with an e or an a. Putting the asterisk in will get you either spelling.
  • Use " " around a name (like this: "James Vining") so you won't get a bunch of articles about miscellaneous people having James as their first name and articles about vining plants in the landscaping.
  • In the expanded search area, put in a town name or at the very least a state to narrow down your search.
  • Later, you can expand and search more widely in case your ancestor traveled or moved.

Take Some Time to Use the Help Section

Browse the help section of Newspapers.com to pick up valuable search tips and to make full use of the database.
Browse the help section of Newspapers.com to pick up valuable search tips and to make full use of the database. | Source

Saving a Clipping to a Person on Ancestry

  • Clip the article.
  • Click on the green SAVE TO ANCESTRY button.
  • Label the clipping for topic to show in the FACTS timeline.
  • Enter the name of the person(s) you want to attach it to (I keep my tree open in another tab so I can verify which Henry Vining is the right match for the clipping).
  • I have it set so the clipping shows on the timeline. It will also be listed in the sources and appear in the Gallery.

Adjust the size of the clipping to get the article you want. Sometimes it is complicated by being crooked or by being in several columns.
Adjust the size of the clipping to get the article you want. Sometimes it is complicated by being crooked or by being in several columns. | Source
Put vital information in the title for storing the clipping. It makes it easier to find later. Select a person to attach the clipping to on Ancestry.com. Be careful if you have several people with similar names.
Put vital information in the title for storing the clipping. It makes it easier to find later. Select a person to attach the clipping to on Ancestry.com. Be careful if you have several people with similar names. | Source

Married Women Were Not Named By Their First Name in Early Papers

Before marriage, a girl would be mentioned by first and last name. After marriage, it would be Mrs. Perkins or Widow Perkins or Mr. and Mrs. James Perkins. If you are lucky, in the obituary her full maiden name is mentioned. "The former Lucretia Randall"

What You Might Find in Your Searches

  • Births, Marriages, Deaths
  • Business Information
  • Accidents
  • Court Cases
  • Social and Church Activities
  • School Notes
  • Moving and Travel
  • Political Involvement
  • Scandal

Newspaper Clippings About My Great-Grandfather

The wedding article includes names of many family members, the sale article shows the family leaving an area, the obituary sometimes details their early life. Look for all these clues.
The wedding article includes names of many family members, the sale article shows the family leaving an area, the obituary sometimes details their early life. Look for all these clues. | Source

Be sure that you extract as much information as you can from the article

to put in your family tree. Get the names, dates, places, events and other information saved in your records.

The Clippings Are Shown on Ancestry in 3 Places

You'll see the article appear in the FACTS on the timeline. They also appear in the SOURCES on the right. The 3rd place is in the GALLERY.
You'll see the article appear in the FACTS on the timeline. They also appear in the SOURCES on the right. The 3rd place is in the GALLERY. | Source

Do Some Browsing While You Are There

Besides searching for information by a person's name, use the newspapers to give you background information on that person.

Any time I clip something, I then browse through a few issues of that newspaper page-by-page. You learn about activities, kinds of stores, local politics, weather, community problems, and what their neighbors are doing. This is valuable to family historians trying to get an idea of what their ancestor's life was like.

Look at the advertisements for farm equipment, cars, furniture, kitchen furnishings, children's toys, and clothing. Again, these give you an idea of life at the time and place of that article.

Find Out About Unfamiliar Customs

One clipping about my ancestor mentioned a charivari. That piqued my curiosity. Seaching on that word, I found a number of articles that clarified what this old-fashioned wedding activity was.
One clipping about my ancestor mentioned a charivari. That piqued my curiosity. Seaching on that word, I found a number of articles that clarified what this old-fashioned wedding activity was. | Source

What Was in Great-Grandma's Kitchen?

Clipped from the The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas Thu, Oct 03, 1918 · Page 3
Clipped from the The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Coffeyville, Kansas Thu, Oct 03, 1918 · Page 3 | Source

A search might bring up hundreds of articles.

You can save the search results to review later if you don't have time to go through the whole list of articles at once. Click on SAVE.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Virginia Allain

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      • profile image

        Kathryn Grace 

        5 months ago

        Excellent article, Virginia. I have learned some amazing things about my ancestors using Newspapers.com but boy is it hard when I have to hunt for a common name like Smith or Burns. I didn’t know about the wild card tricks, so thank you! Can’t wait to put them to use!

      • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Allain 

        5 months ago from Central Florida

        Katherine Bopp - I just save them as clippings on Ancestry and on Newspapers. com. Only a few have I saved to my photos in my computer using Jpeg and those have been clear for me.

      • profile image

        Katherine Bopp 

        5 months ago

        This is awesome and I have bookmarked it in a couple of spots in my genealogy bookmarks so I will find it again. I had previously tried using quotes around names without much success, but will go back and try it again. Do you have any suggestions for what to do when you go back to an article and it is blurry instead of clear when you first saw it? If given the option between PDF and JPEG, which is the better option to prevent a blurry save?

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 months ago from UK

        This is a very useful guide for anyone who plans on using newspapers.com for genealogy research.

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