Irish American, Dublin Chronicle

Early Newspaper Genealogy

Newspapers of present and past can be a great genealogy resource, especially for marriage and obituary notices. In fact, early newspapers are sometimes the ONLY available resource of genealogical information for a particular city, county or point in time.

Not long ago, the process of searching through newspaper archives was incredibly laborious, since 18th- and 19th-century newspapers are not indexed, which means searching through stacks and reels of microfilm. Fortunately for us, a number of dedicated genealogists have taken on the assignment of sifting through early newspapers to find buried genealogical information. These efforts have yielded book-length collections of marriage, death, or other vital records; they have also compiled lists of passengers, public officials, college graduates, members of committees of correspondence, addressees of unclaimed letters, and other items of genealogical value.

Early New Haven, Connecticut newspapers, in particular, are rich in data on individuals who might not otherwise appear in the public records. “Genealogical Data from Colonial New Haven Newspapers,” written jointly by Kenneth Scott and Rosanne Conway, contains abstracts of all items concerned with persons in New England mentioned in New Haven newspapers between 1755 and the outbreak of the Revolution.

Another example, The Irish-American, a weekly newspaper published in New York City for the edification of the Irish immigrant population, began publication in August 1849, at the height of the great exodus from Ireland. Besides community news, this newspaper also ran a popular classified section for people seeking information on relatives and friends who had recently taken up residence in the U.S. This resource, by Laura Murphy DeGrazia and Diane Fitzpatrick Haberstroh, contains over 8,500 names of Irish friends and relatives, some of which cannot be located elsewhere.

Additional resources related to old newspaper genealogy can be found here.

Image Credit: By Osioni at en.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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