Using Newspapers for Researching Your Family’s History

How do you put depth to those old family photos you find or still have in your traditional scrapbook albums? Digging into your family’s history and journaling brief stories. I’ve been a photo coach for almost 30 years

Newspaper clippings are often quite helpful, especially if your relatives lived in smaller towns.


Using newspapers in family research

Local newspapers were never the go-to source for in-depth coverage of earth-shaking events or international news. And they’re not today, either.

But they’re a source of news about high school sports, promotions among local companies, marriage announcements, and nonprofit volunteers. And that’s the role many papers have held for decades and decades.

What makes something newsworthy?

Local citizens going off to serve in a war or coming from battle … or not coming home.

Soldier World War TwoBirth announcements, marriages, and obituaries are all local newsworthy items and have been so in communities stretching back multiple generations and centuries.

Here’s something important you should know about searching in newspapers: clippings you find on closet shelves, in the attic, or in scrapbooks may be part of a larger story.

That advice comes from FOREVER®, a complete memory-keeping system for your old and current photos, videos, slide shows, and more.

If you have a newspaper clipping without the masthead, then it’s hard to know the publication date and even the newspaper’s location.

Take these “What ifs” to heart:

“What if your ancestor’s brief obituary is printed in the same paper with a full article describing the accident that led to their death? What does it tell you if your ancestor is one of several local death announcements for people all succumbing to the same communicable disease?”

A solution is finding the original newspaper online.


Access newspaper clippings for free

You can use free databases like this one through Purdue University that has links to papers in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

A service available through the Library of Congress is great for any history buff. It’s Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Look for editions beginning as early as 1777. There’s a listing of papers published in 1690.

screenshot of old newspapers
Screenshot from Library of Congress, Chronicling America

Options include searching publications dealing with specific industries like banking, anti-communist movements, and labor organizations.

Maybe you don’t need to use the papers to uncover information on a person, but you can find information related to events your ancestor lived through like coal mine strikes in West Virginia or settlements in the West.


Search local historical societies

Local societies may have research libraries and volunteer researchers. The Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Historical Society is a good example.

It’s a “non-circulating” library so you have to go in person or send in a request to a researcher. The library includes over 5,000 historical reference books, genealogical records, and original documents of local interest.


Access professional researchers through FOREVER®

If you get stuck using your own resources or if you need a road map to research your family history then you can turn to FOREVER® for consultations or more in-depth sessions. FOREVER®’s professional researchers can be helpful in connecting the dots of your family’s story.

Family research collage
Updates from family researchers, FOREVER(r)

They’re especially helpful if you’re facing language barriers for family who immigrated to the states from other countries. And they can often turn up hard-to-find information from decades ago.

Researching your family’s history can be a fun family project. Divide up tasks to do among you and your children or cousins. And if they live in different parts of the U.S. or around the globe then they can still send useful info and even photos to your FOREVER® library.


Store everything in one place

FOREVER® is a service I personally use and use with my clients to bring all older media files into one safe, secure place with current photos and videos that are stored on smartphones and other electronic devices.


Easily digitize everything like scrapbook albums, slide shows, 8mm movies, and more.

Upload from your phone using the FOREVER® app.

You can store all of your files in an online space, or Library, that you own. Then organize all of your most meaningful memories into main albums and sub-albums.

If you’re doing family research, you can have an album titled Family History and sub-albums with the heading of grandparents, great-grandparents, family early 1900s. Organize your albums based on how you think and how others will access your albums in the future.

FOREVER® is guaranteed to store your memories for generations and even centuries to come. So, imagine how someone 80 or 90 years from now will look through your albums.

Once your photos and videos are stored then you can easily arrange images into attractive photo books and other gifts while you also have an option to stream videos.


I’m Here to Help

Adult daughter with her senior mother
Me and mom today



I believe families should enjoy writing their stories. Do it with new friends. Go to the Events page on my website to look for times and dates to join others and learn to write, or journal, your photos.

Try FOREVER® yourself with 2 free GB of storage space.

Contact me for any questions you have about FOREVER® for your permanently storing all of your memories.

If you enjoy helping others, then FOREVER® may be a business that you can use to generate a full-time or part-time income. I’ll gladly share my experiences and be glad to mentor you.


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