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Newspapers have a lot to offer.You may think of a newspaper as only a source of obituaries, but the dedicated genealogist can find more to newspapers than just obituaries and funeral notices. Small town gossip, marriage and birth notices, advertisements, police blotters, and news stories big and small can also benefit the determined researcher.

Some years ago I took the opportunity to extract obituary notices from a small town newspaper. The local library had original bound copies of the newspaper as well as microfilmed copies dating back to 1905. A friend and I extracted information for the years 1905-1925, which gave us the chance to notice how news of specific families popped up again and again through the years. We found mentions of merchants, businessmen, prominent families, school classes, news of parties, which families went out of town to visit relatives, military information (during WWI), accidents, murders, births -- they were all published.

Newspapers provided communities large or small with a way to stay in touch not only with the major news stories, but with local news. Smart researchers investigate newspapers for the time period in which they are interested. Some newspapers are available on microfilms, while others are found in library basements in large bound volumes; consult the library local to the area you are researching to ascertain the existence of nearby newspaper archives. Genealogy and historical societies can also maintain newspaper archives; more likely they will be able to tell you what newspapers existed during the time period you are interested. If you don't live in the area you are researching, check into obtaining newspapers on microfilm via Interlibrary Loan.

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