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Georgia historic newspapers

Researching your family heritage can be an exciting and fun project. It can be tough to start though, if you don’t have adequate information. Of course, there are also the roadblocks that are bound to pop up as you research one of your relatives and hit a dead end.

Using Georgia newspapers for family history

When you begin pouring over all of the information, it can be overwhelming, so it’s best to approach it more systematically. If you have ancestors from Georgia, USA (or suspect you do), Georgia historic newspapers are sure to become your new best friend.

Newspaper archives are a great place to start your search, but they are even better for breaking through family history roadblocks. In online newspapers, you can search many different newspapers at once and expand your search into various cities, towns, settlements, and counties. And because it’s online, everything is right at your fingertips.

Georgia historical newspapers online are a great resource for people who have relatives that settled in the area or who have lived in Georgia. Georgia has a rich Civil War history. You never know what gem of information you might turn up the next time you turn a page. And that little piece of information could bring with it a veritable flood that will propel your search.


What can you learn from Georgia newspaper archives?

If you’ve discounted the usefulness of old newspapers in your family research so far, it might be time to rethink your position. Even pretty far back in history, newspapers were vital forms of communication and people relied on them to keep up with what was going on in their communities, with their neighbors, and in their world.

For instance, an Atlanta newspaper from the early to mid-1860s may have information on Civil War battles or soldiers who were killed, came home, or did something outstanding. It may list crimes or interesting human interest stories as well as the daily news. You never know what you will find.

You may find a report on a town meeting where your relative spoke on a community concern, or you may learn that you have ancestors who were evangelists, doctors, war heroes, politicians, or even criminals. There is so much to discover. Read more

Sections to explore in a Georgia historic newspaper database

While most newspapers will have generally the same sections, there will be some differences. This is even more true when you go back to some of the very early newspapers. A newspaper from the early days in Atlanta will likely be quite different from a newspaper from a small settlement near Columbus during the same time.

So, as you search Georgia newspaper archives check out these newspaper sections:

  • Academia – School activities have long been a favorite section in newspapers. You can learn about students, administrators, and teachers just by accessing some of these sections.

    1. Attendance Records
    2. Class Reunion Announcements
    3. Dean’s List
    4. Graduate Notices
    5. Honor Roll Announcements
    6. School Events
    7. School Sports News and Announcements
    8. Teacher Records
  • Business – Business news is a huge interest today and throughout history. People recorded business openings, closing, and other important events. Almost always the owners and key personnel were named in the stories.

    1. Business Notices
    2. Business Openings
    3. Local Business News
    4. New Business Openings
  • Church – Church is an institution that has drawn people since the beginning of time. Because of this, church news is a popular section in just about every newspaper.

    1. Church News
    2. New Church or Church Plants
    3. New Member Announcements
  • Civil War, servants, slavery - Find out about slaves, Civil War events, and more by thumbing through these sections in the older papers.

    1. Civil War Battles
    2. Indentured Servants
    3. Runaway Slave Notices
  • Community – Community pages have always had a huge readership, so they tend to be very well populated. Don’t skip this section!

    1. Club Announcements
    2. Community Announcements
    3. Letters to the Editor
    4. Organization Events
    5. Political Events
    6. Social Announcements
    7. Volunteer Announcements
    8. War Time Volunteers
  • Court and legal – You can find out a lot about your relatives through these sections. Arrests, property, civil lawsuits, and more will keep you entertained for quite a while.

    1. Arrest Reports
    2. Court Dockets
    3. Court Filings
    4. Jury Lists
    5. Legal Notices
    6. Personal Legal Notices
    7. Police Blotters
    8. Tax Delinquencies
    9. Tax Lists
    10. Unclaimed Letters
  • Deaths – This is an important section because you can get some precise information about dates and places regarding death and burial.

    1. Death Notices
    2. Funerals
    3. Obituaries
  • Marriages, weddings, and births – This is another section that will give you some precise information like birth dates, marriage dates, place of birth, and more.

    1. Anniversaries
    2. Birth Announcements
    3. Elopements
    4. Marriage Announcements
    5. Wedding Announcements
  • Meetings – If you have relatives who were involved in community events and wanted to help the community then you just might find some information on them here.

    1. Minutes of Meetings (county, city, etc.)
    2. “Old Settler” meetings
    3. School Board Meetings/Minutes
  • Military – Homecomings, drafts, deaths, and other military news can give you a ton of information on relatives who served their country.

    1. Draft Lists
    2. Local and Community Soldier News
    3. Military Lists
    4. News from Soldiers
    5. Soldier Homecomings
  • News - This can be a fun section because you may see your relatives in some interesting situations. You just never know.

    1. Accidents and Car Wrecks
    2. Advertisements
    3. Biographical Sketches
    4. Classified Ads
    5. Editorials
    6. Local Personality Highlights
    7. News Stories
    8. Society Pages
  • Property – Property is a great way to track your ancestors and get information on them.

    1. Bankruptcies
    2. Estate Settlements
    3. Foreclosures
    4. Probate Notices
    5. Property Transfers
    6. Public Auctions
    7. Public Sales
    8. Real Estate Transactions
  • Travel – If your relatives immigrated to the US or if they traveled from one area to another, this section could help you track them.

    1. Hotel Guest Lists
    2. Immigrant Card
    3. Ship Arrivals
    4. Stagecoach Passenger Lists
    5. Ship Passenger Lists
    6. Train Passenger Lists
    7. Train Schedules

Start your search with some organization

Before you begin your search, you are going to want to get organized. Searching Georgia newspaper archives online will likely provide a lot of data for you to wade through and the more organized you are, the easier it will be to make sense of it.

A good place to start is to assemble your facts. Put together all the information that you have on each person. You can use index cards, notebooks, or even computer files to organize your information on your relatives. As you are gathering and organizing your data, take special note to record their first and last name, middle name, maiden name, birth date, birthplace, date of death, place of death, and other key info.

If your ancestor was married, include their spouse’s information as well as their children’s names and dates.

If you are missing some information, don’t worry. Just pull together what you have. Once you get it all in one place you might be surprised to see how much you have.

By making a separate card or file for each person you are searching, it will be easier for you to keep their information straight. It is easy to get confused when you have so much information pouring in. Just keep it together and keep it organized and you will love watching those files grow.


Top tips for searching Georgia newspapers online

Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

  • Search the towns you know your relatives were in but also search the surrounding towns.
  • Search extended family like uncles, cousins, and even great aunts and uncles instead of limiting your search to only your direct ancestors.
  • Narrow your search to get more precise information.
  • Broaden your search if you aren’t getting good results – or any at all – by removing dates or middle names and including flexible date ranges.
  • Try spelling surnames in several different ways.
  • Remember that many women used to take on their husband’s name – literally. Mrs. Joe Brown was a common way women signed legal documents.
  • Keep date ranges fairly wide. Events took time to get to press, so make sure you account for that time.

Searching Georgia newspapers will not only help you complete your family tree, but will help you learn your family heritage and build your family narrative. Dive in and learn where you came from!