Urban Research Using Newspapers
In larger cities there were multiple editions of the major daily newspapers, as well as regular runs of community, neighborhood, ethnic, and religious newspapers. To do a thorough search for an event in the life of a city ancestor, all of these publications should be considered.
Under the auspices of the United States Newspaper Project, almost every state has its own newspaper preservation projects, which are designed to collect and microfilm all of the extant newspapers in the state for historical purposes. Among the outstanding newspaper collections in the United States is that of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (second only to the Library of Congress). James L. Hansen’s Wisconsin Newspapers, 1833–1850: An Analytical Bibliography describes this collection.
Most urban newspapers, small and large, now publish an Internet edition, but very few large urban newspapers keep information with significant genealogical value on their websites for more than a few days or weeks. Significant exceptions are The New York Times, available through ProQuest, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, with searchable images posted by the Brooklyn Public Library. A few newspapers in smaller areas do keep information from previous issues online. NewsLink provides an easy-to-use structured directory including websites of daily and weekly newspapers and other media outlets.
Recently, Ancestry.com has begun posting searchable images of older newspapers, including those for many medium and small urban areas. Typing the name of a particular city with the word “newspaper” into a search engine will often turn up positive results, pointing to a website with an index to a newspaper, or at least to the place where the newspaper can be found.
- James L. Hansen, Wisconsin Newspapers, 1833-1850: An Analytical Bibliography (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1979).