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Searching Texas historical newspapers

Learning about your family history is not only a fun project, but it can also provide vital clues about your heritage and ethnicity. You can also learn a lot about yourself. Your ancestry is an important part of who you are and it affects your children and grandchildren too.

But finding information on your heritage in Texas can be a bit of a challenge. Texas historical newspapers can be a huge help.

You may not have considered it yet but searching newspaper archives can offer you a great deal of information. They can be a very good resource for finding all types of information on your ancestry – if you know how to search them.

You can use newspapers to fill in pieces of information that you may be missing. They can also uncover a rich history of the people you are related to as well as interesting family stories.

Regardless of the amount of information that you currently have, newspapers will often fill in many blanks and bring you a bit closer to your family’s history.

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Texas

What can you learn from Texas newspaper archives?

Quite often the value of newspaper archives in family history search is discounted. Many don’t realize that old newspapers have a lot to offer. They were the primary source of information before telephones, TV, and the internet.

Newspapers have long been the means of keeping up with the happenings in neighborhoods, communities, and the world. In fact, it has been the primary source of news for centuries. Before the printing press and other technology allowed newspapers to be mass-produced, the news was handwritten and distributed to communities. Sometimes a person would travel from town to town, reading news stories at public meetings.

The long history of newspapers means that you can learn a lot from them. In Texas Newspaper archives, you can find your relatives’ birthplaces, birth dates, places of burial, dates of death, and a lot more. You can fill in pieces of information that might be hard to find or are obscure. What’s more, you can find information that will help your genealogy research in other archives and databases. You can discover so much! And the addition of online newspaper archives has now made it easier than ever. Read more

Areas to search in Texas newspapers

Nearly every section of the paper can potentially offer information on some aspect of your search. It’s like a puzzle. You piece together little bits of information here and there, like a detective on the hunt for clues.

Each section of the paper has certain types of information, so if you are looking for something in particular you will need to know what information the different sections contain. If you just want to see what is there or you don’t really know what you are looking for, there’s no harm in searching the entire newspaper.

But if you know what you are looking for or you prefer a more systematic approach to your search, here are some of the key sections in the newspaper and the types of information you can find there.

  • Academia
    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
    1. Business Notices
    2. Business Openings
    3. Local Business News
    4. New Business Openings
  • Church
    1. Church News
    2. New Church or Church Plants
    3. New Member Announcements
  • Civil War, Slavery, Servants
    1. Civil War Battles
    2. Indentured Servants
    3. Runaway Slave Notices
  • Community
    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
    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
    1. Death Notices
    2. Funerals
    3. Obituaries
  • Marriages, Weddings, and Births
    1. Anniversaries
    2. Birth Announcements
    3. Elopements
    4. Marriage Announcements
    5. Wedding Announcements
  • Meetings
    1. Minutes of Meetings (county, city, etc.)
    2. “Old Settler” meetings
    3. School Board Meetings/Minutes
  • Military
    1. Draft Lists
    2. Local and Community Soldier News
    3. Military Lists
    4. News from Soldiers
    5. Soldier Homecomings
  • News
    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
    1. Bankruptcies
    2. Estate Settlements
    3. Foreclosures
    4. Probate Notices
    5. Property Transfers
    6. Public Auctions
    7. Public Sales
    8. Real Estate Transactions
  • Travel
    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

Organize your information for better search results

Whether you have been researching your heritage for years or you are just beginning, you probably have at least a little information. Maybe you have the name of your grandparents, where they lived, where they immigrated from, and some key dates. That can actually help you a lot and is an excellent start.

However, before you delve into an all intensive search for your ancestors it would be helpful to organize all that information. That way you will be able to make sense of it as you use it in your search and can easily integrate new information that you find into the information you already have.

There are many ways to do this and there is no right or wrong method. Just do what works for you. Some people use index cards for each individual while others keep files on their computer or make notebooks. How you do it is up to you as long as the information is organized. This simple step will help tremendously and save you a lot of headaches and confusion later.

Also, when you begin searching Texas historical newspapers online keep a pen and notepad handy so you can jot down ideas you have based on the information you uncover. Another good idea is to have a “Maybe” basket or section where you can put information that you are not certain is relevant to you.

Tips for searching Texas newspapers online

Once you are ready to search Texas newspaper archives online just dive right in. Here are a few helpful tips that will make your search easier and more productive.

Explore surrounding geographical areas.

You might be tempted to keep your search confined to your relatives’ known locations such as their hometown, but you should spread out a bit. Searching neighboring settlements and towns, especially if they are larger than your ancestor’s hometown, can provide even more information. Local searches are good, but expanding your search is better.

Look at other family members.

You may feel that looking beyond your direct ancestors is a waste of time, but don’t be so quick to discount extended family. In-laws, siblings, nieces, and nephews can guide you to important information about your direct ancestors.

Make your search parameters narrower

Often when you search names, you get an overwhelming number of results, especially if you are searching a common name. It’s time-consuming to wade through all that data and pull out only what is related to your search. Narrowing your search parameters can help you avoid some of the flood of data. Try including nicknames, maiden names, middle names, and specific dates – adding the search criteria one element at a time.

Make your search parameters broader.

If you find that you aren’t getting many results when you use very specific information for your search, try broadening your search. Instead of the city, use the state or county. If you have dates, use the month and year or just the year. Omit the maiden name or middle name.

Use different name spellings.

In earlier records, everything was handwritten. Census takers wrote down all the information they collected. Journalists made handwritten notes. Many records and documents were handwritten. This leaves a lot of room for human error. A Lithuanian surname of Remkus could also be spelled Rimkus, Ramkus, and Rumkus, as well as other variations. So, when you search, try different spellings of names – first and last. In earlier generations, it was not uncommon for married women to use their husbands’ names. For instance, Sheila Smith married Michael Rush and she signed her name Mrs. Michael Rush. Keep that name variation in mind as you search.

Expand date parameters.

News stories aren’t always published on the exact day the events happened. That is true now and it is certainly true in the early newspaper. A story might run days or weeks after the fact. When you are searching for a specific event, make sure that you expand your search to accommodate a later publishing date. Dates can also be recorded incorrectly so keep that in mind as well.

Searching for your ancestors is a fun and educational experience. You can learn so much about your family’s history as well as the areas your family lived and even the world. Online newspapers can be an outstanding resource for you as you explore your family tree.