The National Institute for Genealogical Studies


The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Starting the US Newspaper Records Course

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series US: Newspaper Records
The Indiana Herald (Huntington, Indiana) 5 July 1848, page 3.

The Indiana Herald (Huntington, Indiana) 5 July 1848, page 3.


by Shannon Combs-Bennett, student


I think one of the most overlooked sources for genealogy research are newspapers.  Where else can you find information on current and historical events, your ancestors, and history all in one place?  Even before I started researching my family history I admit that newspapers were a bit of a fascination for me.  Old newspapers are intriguing, and hold so many stories just waiting to be uncovered.

When I learned that one of the required classes for an American Records certificate from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies  was a course on  newspaper research I was very excited.  I really, really hoped when I saw that I would learn some cool new tips about newspapers.  From my experience, and you probably have read this before in my past blog posts, I just knew that there was more to learn.

By looking at the syllabus for the US: Newspaper Records course you can see that a lot of different aspects of newspaper research are covered.  Particular importance is paid to learning how to dissect information out of stories as well as module after module on what information can be ferreted out of said articles.

I am looking forward to learning more about the information I will find in newspapers.  However, I know that I can always brush up on my search technique which means Module 6 will most likely end up being the one I find the most helpful.

On that note, off I go to learn about newspaper research.  See you online!


What Do You Know About US Newspapers?

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series US: Newspaper Records
 Daviess County Democrat, Washington, Indiana. November 29, 1913 – Page 2. NewspaperArchive

Daviess County Democrat, Washington, Indiana. November 29, 1913 – Page 2. NewspaperArchive


by Shannon Combs-Bennett, student

Who loves history?  I do! I know you probably do too. Which is why Module 1 of the US: Newspaper Records course was absolutely amazing to read. Most of the module covered the history of newspapers in the US as well as an overview of the information you can discover. There was so much excellent information in those pages.

Many people don’t know that there were regular newspapers in the Americas dating all the way back to the 1600s. As the colonies grew, so did the number of newspapers. Not all of them were successful, but the ones that we are lucky enough to still have today are a great insight into life during that time.  Which is one of the things that excites me most about old newspapers.

A window into the past, that is what I like to think of newspapers. You can see exactly what was happening in a community during a specific day, week, or even month. It is one of the purest ways to study the social history of our ancestors.

The course author includes a section about advertising in the newspapers. Advertisements are great, not only for the social history aspect, but also to give you clues about your ancestors if they were in business.  For instance, one of the best advertisements I found in a newspaper was for my 3rd great grandmother’s hotel in my hometown. Because of that advertisement,  I learned the cost of a nightly rate plus the price of dinner in the dining room. This is the same woman who just a few years later was in the newspaper  as a person who was being reimbursed by the county for aiding the court. She housed  jurors in that hotel while they were in town for a trial.  Without a newspaper listing I may have never known that about her.

We learned in this course that by 1860 there were about 3,000 newspapers across the US.  While that may not seem like a lot today, it was actually pretty impressive for that time frame. Especially since by 1914 there were more than 15,000 being published in the US.  With those numbers every one of us should find something of interest to our family history!

To make sure we all understand what the newspapers are telling us our instructor provided a glossary at the end of Module 1.  It contains all of the terms describing parts of a newspaper which make us sound more knowledgeable about the subject.  Of course there is also a section about citing newspapers correctly for genealogical use.  Something we all must know how to do!

See you online!

Specialty Newspapers in the United States

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series US: Newspaper Records
Image courtesy of Stoonn at

Image courtesy of Stoonn at

by Shannon Combs-Bennett, student

Extra! Extra! Read all about…. Specialty newspapers!  Seriously, I learned a lot about niche newspapers in Module 5 of the US: Newspaper Records course. While I don’t think I will be able to use it in my personal research I am certain this knowledge with come in handy for when I help others with their research.

I was surprised by the number and types of specialty, or niche, type newspapers that were published throughout US history.  Many of us may be familiar with ethnic newspapers, especially if we have immigrant ancestors from non-English speaking countries. However, did you know about that the following types of newspapers were published too?

  • Ethnic, including Native and African American
  • Religious
  • Military
  • Labor / Occupation

No matter which type of specialty newspaper you decide to investigate you will be able to do so with a bit of help from the five page finding aid section of this module.

My family has a long line of military involvement which means I need to follow those leads to see if I can find anything for my research in them. If I don’t find my people in them I am hopeful that I will be able to add context, images, and stories about what they did to my personal files.  You know, breathe some life into those biographies!

This module surprised me with the amount of information to say the least.  I know you will get a lot out of it too!!

I hope you’ll join me on Tuesday, February 28th at 3:00pm EST for a virtual meeting where we will discuss US newspapers and the US Newspaper Records course.

See you online!

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