Last time we looked at some of the big and obvious sources for finding online newspapers. But there’s more out there. You just have to have a lot of persistence and a little bit of luck. I’m talking about not stopping at just the major sites I shared last week. That is literally the tip of the iceberg. There are so many digital collections that are separate, part of a small local project, and just not known to the larger outside world. Here’s where you start (one of these, not in any particular order):
- Local public libraries, especially if they have a local history collection
- Local historical societies and museums
- Local genealogical societies (“local” might mean regional, look at the next biggest town)
- Nearest university (and then the next, etc.)
- Town, city, county, state (and whatever the jurisdiction setup is in other countries) repositories such as an archive, library, historical and genealogical society, and so on
To learn about these you could do a simple Google search (‘Wood County Ohio public library,’ for example) or you could use other resources such as Cyndi’s List or the FamilySearch Wiki for genealogically specific information. Let’s look at an example.
I had a client who’s ancestors were from Glengarry County, Ontario but one of a set of sisters had moved to New York City where she became a nurse. I needed to prove that the particular sister was in New York City at the right time to have given birth to my client’s grandmother. Of course, this is between census years; city directories were not easily available for the right years for the right borough; and etc. I was also unable to find mention of this sister in any newspaper in New York City and vicinity. However, I found a treasure trove of digitized newspapers at the Glengarry County archives.
Lo and Behold! I found articles describing when the sister went to New York for nursing school, when she came home for visits, her progress, her graduation, her new job in a New York hospital, and more. I was able to prove that she was in New York City at the right time and place. This is not a collection that is highly visible through other sites. These digital images are not a part of a large subscription service.
I found this resource that helped solve my client project because I have a list of places I start looking when the “big” sites fail. That list is the bullets listed above: libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, universities, county and state level archives. This method has worked too many times for me not to follow it. If it helps, make a sticky note with that list on it and keep it near your computer.
Whatever you do, don’t give up when those major sites do not provide what you are looking for. You can’t give up until you’ve exhausted those and this list. Next time, we will discuss what to do when you’ve exhausted both of those. Keep searching!