Researching your family history can seem like a daunting task. Where do you begin? There are so many different sources of information out there it can be a little overwhelming.
The truth is, one of the best places to start your search is in newspapers. Make it a habit to search newspaper archives whenever you add someone to your family tree. Search the newspapers of all the areas you know they lived or spent time in for things such as work or school.
The California historical newspaper archives are great for people whose families settled in the west, especially during the gold rush. You never know when someone will leave a little nugget of information that will open up a flood of information to help your search.
You might be surprised to learn that you can get a lot of great information from old newspapers. Even in the very early days newspapers contained many stories that were important to the people in that area. For instance, a newspaper during Civil War times might have information on soldiers who came through a town, or how a farmer’s wife protected her homestead from bandits. It may name cattle rustlers, bank robbers, and even people who were wanted by the law.
At the same time, it would also mention local heroes and people who spoke at town meetings. You might find that your ancestors were politicians, evangelists, or even on the wrong side of the law.
You never know until you delve into California newspaper archives online. There’s a lot to discover.
Different newspapers will have different sections. They will vary by time period and by location. A bustling gold mining town in 1850s California would publish different information than one in a small settlement on the prairie at around the same time. Read more
Before you start searching California digital historical newspapers, assemble your facts. Put together what you know about each person. You might want to make a separate card for each person with their full name, other names they went by, birth date, date of death, where they were born, where they died, where they were buried, parents’ names, spouse name, children (along with birth dates and death dates for cross-reference), and where they worked. If you don’t have all the information, it’s OK. Just assemble what you have. Once you get it all together you might be surprised.
Making a separate card or file for each person might help you keep the information straight. It can get very confusing very quickly, especially if you are searching for multiple people. It isn’t necessarily a hard, fast rule to have all the information on a person; date ranges can be helpful as well as incomplete names. But you do want to keep all your information in order so that you can access it quickly and easily. Either create a file on your computer or use a notebook or notecards.
It isn’t hard to search California newspapers – or any newspaper archives – but there are a few things you can do to make your search more productive. Follow these tips to make better use of the newspaper archives and increase your chances of getting the results you want.
Searching California newspaper archives online can be loads of fun and very rewarding. You could wind up with a ton of information that will help you piece together your family tree and give you a better understanding of where you came from.