Newspapers.com and Ancestry® Launch a New Podcast!

Behind the Headlines of History

Have you ever read an old newspaper article and wondered what happened to the people mentioned in the story? Then check out the new Newspapers.com and Ancestry® podcast, “Behind the Headlines of History”!

Join hosts Brad Argent of Ancestry® and historian Michala Hulme of Manchester Metropolitan University as they share intriguing newspaper articles from the past, before putting on their genealogy hats and scouring records to find out more about some of the people involved in the stories.

In the first episode, Brad and Michala discuss the love story behind the Great Bullion Robbery of 1855 and also reveal how the theft of some hazelnuts in 1877 is linked to Downton Abbey!

Host Brad Argent shared his thoughts:

Historic newspapers are a treasure trove of great stories, and a fantastic resource for family historians to find out more about the details of their ancestors’ lives. With this podcast, we wanted to bring this to life, sharing weird, wonderful and sometimes tragic historic news stories to find out who these people were, where they came from and what happened next. Join us as we go behind the headlines of history!”

We’re excited to share “Behind the Headlines of History” with you! Whether it’s on your commute, at the gym, or while cleaning the house, this fun and fascinating podcast is a perfect way to pass the time!

“Behind the Headlines of History” will be released each week on Tuesdays for 10 weeks, beginning September 3. It is available on a range of platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts and more.

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The Surprising Evolution of Pumpkin Spice

Love it or hate it, pumpkin-spice season is here again. But do you know how this autumn flavor got its start?

Let’s head to the historical papers on Newspapers.com to see what we can learn. Click on any of the links in the post to see newspaper clippings that document the history of pumpkin spice!

An Age-Old Combination

1734 ad mentioning nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice for sale (Pennsylvania Gazette, 03.06.1734)
1734 ad mentioning nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice for sale (Pennsylvania Gazette, 03.06.1734)

“Pumpkin spice” is usually a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and/or cloves. Since some combinations of these spices date back to ancient days, for the sake of time, let’s jump forward to the 18th century United States.

By this time, spices were available in the U.S. and were being used in cooking and baking. A 1734 Pennsylvania newspaper advertisement, for instance, shows that spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice were being imported to the U.S. And a newspaper recipe for “soft cakes” from 1825 New York confirms that spices (nutmeg and cinnamon in this case) were used in early American baking.

For the Love of Pumpkin Pie

So it’s clear that the spices in “pumpkin spice” were used together, but where does pumpkin come in?

Americans have been flavoring their pumpkin dishes with spices for a long time. In fact, the first American cookbook (“American Cookery” from 1796) includes a pumpkin recipe that uses mace, nutmeg, and ginger.

But most of all, Americans loved pumpkin pie, and spices were an important part of the flavor of the dish. A 1839 newspaper recipe, for example, calls for cinnamon and ginger in the pie filling.

“Pumpkin Pie Spice” Proliferation

But when did this traditional spice combination become known as “pumpkin spice”?

1933 ad for T&T Pumpkin Pie Spice (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10.20.1933)
1933 ad for T&T Pumpkin Pie Spice (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10.20.1933)

In 1930, a spice company called Thompson & Taylor (T&T) introduced what they called “Pumpkin Pie Spice,” which combined all the spices a home baker needed to make pumpkin pie. Now, as the ads claimed, making pumpkin pies at home was more convenient and the pies themselves would be more consistent in flavor.

The idea of selling a pre-mixed pie spice caught on, and over the next few years more and more companies introduced their own pumpkin pie spices. The mix best-known today, by McCormick, went on the market in 1934.

With an increasing number of companies selling pumpkin pie spices, newspapers were inundated with ads around Thanksgiving time. As newspapers tried to save space, the mix was sometimes referred to simply as “pumpkin spice” instead of “pumpkin pie spice,” as you can see in this ad from 1931.

With pre-mixed pie spices now readily available and convenient, it was easy for creative home cooks in the 1930s and beyond to add it to other foods, from soufflés to cookies to gingerbread. McCormick even briefly marketed a “Pumpkin Pie & Ginger Bread Spice” in the mid-1930s. 

“Pumpkin Spice” Comes into Its Own

1957 ad for pumpkin spice ice cream (News-Messenger, 11.29.1957)
1957 ad for pumpkin spice ice cream (News-Messenger, 11.29.1957)

Around this same time, “pumpkin spice” began appearing in the names of recipes published in newspapers. For instance, based on the papers currently on Newspapers.com, recipes for “Pumpkin Spice Cake” began showing up in newspapers around 1935, though we found a brief mention in an ad from 1934.

From this time on, ads and recipes for “pumpkin spice” flavored foods appeared with increasing frequency in newspapers, and it became well-established as its own flavor in the decades that followed.

But, of course, despite pumpkin spice’s long history, the current flood of pumpkin-spice products can largely be traced back to Starbucks, which first introduced its popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003. Spiced coffee has its own extensive history, but Starbucks’ branding of its new beverage as “pumpkin spice” kicked off a trend that seems to have taken over the autumn season. Whether you like it or not.

Search Newspapers.com for more pumpkin-spice articles and recipes. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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7 Tips for Finding an Ancestor Beyond Their Hometown Newspaper

At Newspapers.com, we’re constantly adding newspapers to our archives to grow our coverage of locations around the United States, Canada, and beyond. In fact, we add millions of newspaper pages each month!

But growing our archives inevitably takes time. So what can you do if Newspapers.com doesn’t have a newspaper from your ancestor’s hometown yet? Or if Newspapers.com does have the paper, but not the years you need? Or what if your ancestor’s hometown didn’t even have a local newspaper in the first place?

Can you still use the papers on our site to learn about your ancestor? Yes! While hometown papers are the most likely place to find news about your ancestor, they’re far from the only place.

Read on to learn 7 of our top tips for doing family history research beyond your ancestor’s hometown newspaper.

Family reunion photo from 1919 Indiana (Muncie Morning Star, 09.27.1919)
Family reunion photo from 1919 Indiana (Muncie Morning Star, 09.27.1919)

1. Search your ancestor’s name in ALL the papers on the site.

This tip is only practical if your ancestor had a fairly uncommon name, but it’s worth mentioning up front. You never know exactly when or where your ancestor’s name might appear in a newspaper—and they can turn up in some pretty surprising places! Yes, your ancestor may have lived their entire life in a particular place, but a reprinted or syndicated story about them may pop up in newspapers in states they had no connection to at all!

But if your ancestor’s name isn’t particularly unique, you’ll need some ways to focus your search to avoid getting too many matches. That’s where our other tips come in!

2. Search for your ancestor in the newspapers of nearby towns and the county seat.

Apart from hometown papers, newspapers from the county seat or neighboring towns (even those across a state border!) are some of the most likely places you’ll find mentions of your ancestor.

Two ways Newspapers.com helps you with this are the County search and Map search functions. County search allows you to search all the papers in a county. Just start typing the county name into the “Paper Location” field of the Advanced Search options, and then select the county name. (If the county you type doesn’t appear on the list, then Newspapers.com doesn’t currently have papers from that county.)

The Map search (accessible by selecting “See papers by location” on the homepage) allows you to zoom in on our map to see (and then search!) the papers on our site from as big or small a geographical region as you want.

For example, you can zoom in on the map to see all the papers currently available from the entire state of Kansas, or you can zoom in even further to see all the papers available specifically from Cherokee County. This is especially helpful if your ancestor lived near a state border, since you can see which papers were being published in neighboring towns across the state line. So if your ancestor lived in Cherokee County, Kansas, the Newspapers Map will show you that we also have papers from nearby Jasper County, Missouri.

Example of the Newspapers.com Map zoomed in to show papers available in Cherokee County, KS, and Jasper County, MO
Example of the Newspapers.com Map zoomed in to show papers available in Cherokee County, KS, and Jasper County, MO

3. Search for your ancestor in every city they lived in or were associated with.

Outside your ancestor’s hometown, the towns where they were born or died are good places to check for newspaper mentions of them. But there are many more places you can search!

First, use vital and other genealogical records, family stories, newspaper clues, or whatever resources you have to compile a list of every place your ancestor lived or was associated with. Then search for them in papers from those locations.

This could be the city where they attended college, where they worked, where they were stationed in the military, where they landed after immigrating, or even where they traveled on an extended vacation. The possibilities are endless! Anywhere your ancestor spent time may have some sort of newspaper record of their time there, even if it’s simply a mention of them in a list of hotel guests or passengers who came in on the train.

4. Search for your ancestor in the areas where their family members lived.

Once you’ve tried searching for your ancestor in the places they were associated with, move on to their family members. Start with parents, children, and siblings, and work your way out to in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles, and other extended family. This will likely require you to do some digging into collateral (non-direct) lines on your family tree, but it may be worth the time.

Pennsylvania newspaper photo of the Klinefelter Family, 1909. (Gazette-Times, 02.07.1909)
Pennsylvania newspaper photo of the Klinefelter Family, 1909. Note that the caption mentions the Thompsons are living in Nebraska! (Gazette-Times, 02.07.1909)

Family members’ obituaries can be a particularly rich source of information about your ancestor, but the possibilities don’t stop there. For instance, newspapers often published news about people who were visiting family members in town, whether it was for a vacation, wedding, funeral, or reunion. They also published updates on people who had moved away but still had family in town.

Keep in mind that newspapers didn’t always mention visitors by name, sometimes merely saying that so-and-so’s brother was in town for the week. But if you’re paying attention, you might catch that the nameless brother mentioned in the article is actually the ancestor you’ve been looking for!

You may be surprised how much information about your ancestor can appear in the newspapers where their family members lived. For example, one birth announcement for a baby born in Colorado was actually published in Pennsylvania, where the mother’s family lived. Even more surprising, the announcement wasn’t in the family’s hometown paper but in the paper from the county seat!

5. Search for your ancestor in newspapers of ethnic or religious communities they belonged to.

Example of a Catholic-focused newspaper serving Kansas and Oklahoma (Catholic Advance, 01.24.1914)
Example of a Catholic-focused newspaper serving Kansas and Oklahoma (Catholic Advance, 01.24.1914)

If your ancestor belonged to a particular ethnic or religious community, try looking for them in newspapers that catered to that community. These might include Jewish or Catholic newspapers, African American papers, or German-language papers. Newspapers that targeted a specific religious or ethnic community often shared news about people within that demographic even if they lived in a different state than where the paper was published. 

For instance, if your ancestor was African American, you may have luck searching for them in historically black papers, such as the Pittsburgh Courier or Kansas City Sun. These papers published news about African Americans from all over the United States, not just Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

6. Search for your ancestor in the years after their lifetime.

If the problem is that Newspapers.com has the hometown paper, just not the years you need, try searching for your ancestor in the years after their lifetime. They might be mentioned in their child’s obituary or in a piece spotlighting the pioneers of the town. Or they might crop up in a “this-day-in-history” feature in the newspaper or in an article about events of historical significance to the town. This Indiana town history piece  from 1939, for example, mentions people and events from more than a century earlier!

1939 newspaper piece that discusses century-old town history (Palladium-Item, 07.16.1939)
1939 newspaper piece that discusses century-old town history (Palladium-Item, 07.16.1939)

7. Check back!   

Since Newspapers.com frequently adds and updates papers, check back often to see if the hometown paper you want has been added to the site. A quick way to do this is on our New & Updated page.

There are also a couple ways to be automatically informed by email when certain newspaper content is added to the site. The first way is to save a search. This will notify you when we add a newspaper page that has results that match criteria you specify. To enable this feature, simply set up a search with the criteria you want (for example, “John Smith” in Kansas newspapers), then select the “Save/Notify” button on the search results page.

You can also choose to be automatically notified by email when we add pages to a specific newspaper title. This is a convenient option if you’re waiting for additional years to be added to a paper already on our site. Do it by selecting any newspaper title and clicking the “follow” button on the landing page.

Best of luck finding that ancestor!

Get started searching for your ancestors on Newspapers.com now! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more articles like this!

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These 10 Cats Adopted Baby Animals and It’s Adorable

Literally just 10 vintage newspaper photos of cats being foster moms that will make your day better.

1922: This cat adopted a Boston bull terrier puppy, and the photo of them snuggling might be the cutest thing you’ll see all day. Read their story in the New York Daily News.

1922: Cat adopts Boston bull terrier puppySat, Dec 23, 1922 – 37 · Daily News (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


1930: This tabby adopted a baby groundhog, proving looks don’t matter when it comes to a mother cat’s love, because that groundhog probably isn’t going to win a beauty contest anytime soon. Read their story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

1930: Cat adopts a baby groundhogSat, May 10, 1930 – Page 2 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


1935: This cat adopted a baby rat. Read their story in the Detroit Free Press.

1935: Cat adopts a baby ratThu, Mar 14, 1935 – Page 26 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


1936: And this cat adopted a baby rat too. There must be something about rats. Read their story in the Tampa Times.

1936: Another cat adopts a baby ratSat, Jun 13, 1936 – 1 · The Tampa Times (Tampa, Florida) · Newspapers.com


1937: This cat’s owner adopted a puppy, then the cat took over! Read their story in the Atlanta Constitution.

1937: Cat adopts a puppyMon, Jun 28, 1937 – 8 · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) · Newspapers.com


1938: When presented with 3 baby squirrels, this cat apparently took them on without a hitch. Read their story in the Decatur Herald.

1938: Cat adopts 3 baby squirrelsSat, Apr 2, 1938 – Page 3 · The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


1939: More squirrels! This time 2 baby fox squirrels. Read the story in the News-Palladium.

1939: Cat adopts 2 baby fox squirrelsTue, Jun 20, 1939 – 8 · The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


1946: The relationship between this cat and 3 baby rabbits sounds like it had a bit of a rocky start, but maternal instinct prevailed! Read their story in the Courier-Journal.

1946: Cat adopts 3 baby rabbitsSun, Apr 7, 1946 – Page 17 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com


1946: This cat adopted a red fox cub. If you’ve never seen a red fox cub, check out this photo. They’re the cutest. Read the cat-fox adoption story in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

1946: Cat adopts a red fox cubWed, May 1, 1946 – Page 22 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


1950: And finally, this cat adopted a baby field mouse, rising above the traditionally complicated relationship between the two species. Read their story in the Austin American-Statesman.

1950: Cat adopts baby field mouseTue, Aug 22, 1950 – 11 · Austin American-Statesman (Austin, Texas) · Newspapers.com


Whether it’s cat photos or something less feline-themed, search for what interests you on Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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What Old Newspapers Reveal about the Last of the Czars

If you were living in 1918 and saw a newspaper story about the murder of the Romanovs, would you have known who they were? How would you have felt about the news if you read it when it first broke?

Thanks to numerous books, plays, movies, and mini-series, most people today are familiar with the story of the Romanovs, the Russian royal family headed by Czar Nicholas II who were brutally executed in 1918, ending the country’s monarchy.

But that’s today. What about back then?

We headed to the historical newspapers on Newspapers.com to help us find out how people living in the United States and Canada at the time of the Romanov executions would have experienced the news of their deaths.

Would people living in the U.S. and Canada have known who the Romanovs were?

While we can’t speak for everyone living in those countries at the time, it’s pretty safe to say that if you were a newspaper reader, you would have known who the Romanovs were.

Since Russia was a world power, its monarch naturally drew the attention of newspapers. People could read about Nicholas II’s personal life, from his marriage, to the births of his children, to his visits to foreign royalty. And they likewise could read about Russian politics under his rule, from the Russo-Japanese War, to civil unrest and revolution, to World War I.

Newspaper headlines announce Nicholas II's abdication as czar (The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 03.17.1917)
Newspaper headlines announce Nicholas II’s abdication as czar (The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 03.17.1917)

There was fairly consistent newspaper coverage of the Romanovs throughout the years of Nicholas II’s reign, with the exception of a few years that had major spikes in coverage. The first was 1905, an eventful year in Russian politics headlined by a revolution attempt and Nicholas’s issuing of the October Manifesto (which promised an elected parliament).

The other two years that saw spikes in newspaper coverage of the Romanovs were 1917, when Nicholas II abdicated and was exiled, and 1918, when the family was executed. The abundance of newspaper coverage about the executions is probably self-explanatory, but the Romanovs’ lives in exile prior to their deaths seemed to fascinate newspapers almost as much.

How did Americans and Canadians back then feel about the Romanovs?

Nicholas II and Alexandra (The Pittsburgh Post, 11.26.1905
Nicholas II and Alexandra (The Pittsburgh Post, 11.26.1905)

Most people likely formed their opinions about the Romanovs based on newspaper stories—the main source of news at the time. So a look at how newspapers were portraying the Romanovs can help us understand how they would have been seen by the general public in the U.S. and Canada.

Nicholas was often portrayed by the American and Canadian press as an inept, weak ruler who was easily influenced by those around him. The more negative portrayals showed him as an arrogant, superstitious despot who cared nothing for the people he ruled, overly dependent on his wife and on incompetent advisors. The more positive portrayals, however, often wrote about him as a quiet family man who had the misfortune of being born into a role he wasn’t suited for.

As for his wife, Alexandra, the more flattering depictions portrayed her as an intelligent and spiritually-minded woman who was a loving wife and mother. The negative newspaper accounts tended to show her as a pro-German sympathizer who controlled her husband and was unhealthily obsessed with mysticism. 

As for the children—4 daughters and a son—newspapers paid the most attention to Alexei (Alexis), the long-awaited male heir. Although the royal family tried to keep Alexei’s hemophilia a secret, rumors of the boy’s poor health still made it into the American and Canadian media. This in turn led to articles predicting that Alexei’s likely early death would spell the end for the Romanov dynasty.

Did people know about Rasputin?

Newspaper interpretation of Rasputin and Czar Nicholas II (The Shreveport Times, 08.16.1914)
Rasputin and Nicholas II (The Shreveport Times, 08.16.1914)

Yes. Rasputin was a controversial, scandalous figure, and controversies and scandals have always been popular news items. News about Rasputin seemed to have taken a few years to reach the U.S. and Canada (he joined the Russian court around 1905, yet didn’t begin appearing in Western newspapers until about 1911). But once he became known in North America, he was a figure of fascination, and his mystical power over Alexandra and Nicholas was widely written about both before and after his murder in 1916. 

How much did people in 1918 know about the deaths of the Romanovs?

Not much—at least, not much accurate information. Because so much was kept secret by the Bolsheviks, news of the Romanovs’ deaths left Russia slowly, and the details that were reported were often far from what we now understand to have happened. This lack of concrete news opened the gates for a flood of rumors and unsubstantiated news.

Article incorrectly reports Romanov family is safe (The Morning Leader, 07.29.1918)
Article incorrectly reports Romanov family is safe (The Morning Leader, 07.29.1918)

Most initial reports indicated that while Nicholas had been killed, his family was still alive—which we now know was not true. Another oft-published item from around that time claimed that Alexei had died from exposure a few days after Nicholas’s murder—also incorrect. Fictitious accounts of Nicholas’s execution also circulated widely in newspapers, as did a plethora of tell-all articles of dubious veracity written by people claiming to have been connected to the royal family. To top it off, every few months articles would crop up claiming that there was a chance Nicholas was still alive.

There were so many conflicting accounts about what happened that even when a somewhat accurate account was published, there was no way for newspaper readers to be able to discern that this particular article was any more or less true than the numerous others.

The mystery of what really happened to the Romanovs lasted for decades, until the discovery of their bodies was made public in 1989. Even today, there are still things we don’t know about the Romanovs’ deaths, but one thing’s for certain: We know much, much more than people did in 1918.

Search Newspapers.com for more articles about the Romanovs. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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5 Tips for Finding an Ancestor with a Common Name in the Newspaper

What do you do when you want to look for your ancestor in the newspaper, but your ancestor has a common name? How do you know if the John Smith you found mentioned in a newspaper article is your John Smith?

This can be a frustrating roadblock to navigate, so to help you in your search, we’ve come up with 5 tips for finding a person with a common name in the papers on Newspapers.com.

1. Use our search filters.

We’ll start with the most obvious tip first: Use the Newspapers.com search filters to narrow down your matches. (Watch this video to learn how to use our filters.)

If you go to our search bar and type John Smith, you’ll get more than 100 million results, which is far too many to go through one by one. So try adding filters in addition to your search terms. For example, if you know John Smith lived in Kansas between 1909 and 1930, add filters for that location and date range. This simple method will help get the number of search results down to a more manageable number.

Search filters on Newspapers.com
Search filters on Newspapers.com

Keep in mind, however, that any time you add filters to a search, you are excluding potential matches. While a newspaper article about your ancestor is most likely to appear in a newspaper from the town he lived in during the time he lived there, if he traveled to a different city to visit a relative, he may also appear in that town’s newspaper. Or he might be mentioned in a newspaper long after his death in an article about one of his descendants.

2. Learn everything you can about your ancestor.

If your ancestor has a common name, the thing that will help you distinguish them in the newspaper is obviously not going to be their name—it’ll be other things about them. So the more you know about your ancestor, the more likely you will be to recognize them when you come across them in a newspaper. Traditional records, such as censuses, vital records, wills, and land records, are a good place to find personal information about your ancestor that you can use in your newspaper search.

Example of a WW2 draft card, which can provide useful information in learning about an individual (via Fold3)
Example of a WW2 draft card, which can provide useful information in learning about an individual (via Fold3)

Details that may help you distinguish your ancestor include when and where they lived (even down to their address, if possible), as well as their spouse’s, parents’, and children’s names. Every detail can help—even their profession, physical description, and the clubs and church they belonged to.

So if your ancestor John Smith lived in a town with another John Smith, you may be able to tell them apart by the details provided in a newspaper article. For instance, if you know your John Smith was a doctor, then an article in the town paper mentioning a “Dr. John Smith” is more likely to be about your ancestor than an article talking about a lawyer named John Smith. Similarly, if you know he was 30 years old in 1912, then you’ll also know that an article from 1912 about a John Smith’s 50th wedding anniversary isn’t going to be about your ancestor.

3. Learn who their family, friends, and neighbors were.

Your ancestor may have had a common name, but there were likely people in their circle who had more distinguishable names. So try searching for your ancestor in conjunction with family, friends, and neighbors who had less common names.

For example, our commonly named John Smith may have married a woman with a more uncommon surname, like Chuba. So if you search for him in conjunction with his in-laws’ surname, you may turn up mentions of him in the newspaper. Similarly, maybe his father or brother had a less common first name than “John,” so if you find their names and his mentioned together in an article, this is a good sign you’ve found whom you’re looking for.

A Smith family photo (Nebraska State Journal, 12.25.1915)
A Smith family photo from a newspaper (Nebraska State Journal, 12.25.1915)

And don’t stop at family members. If you know the name of a family friend or neighbor (things like censuses and city directories can alert you to who lived nearby), you can search for that person in the newspaper and see if your ancestor pops up in conjunction with them. For example, if your John Smith lived next door to a Thomas Bieber for many years, and you find a John Smith mentioned in a newspaper social column about the Bieber’s Christmas party, there’s a good probability that it’s your John Smith.

4. Try searching without a name.

If the person’s name is the problem, try searching without one—or with only part of it. To search without a name, gather all the information possible about the person, like we mentioned in previous tips, and then search using these criteria.

So instead of searching for the name “John Smith,” search for things you know about him. If you know Dr. John Smith lived in Topeka, Kansas, between 1909 and 1930 and was married to a woman with the maiden name Chuba, you could try searching for doctors living in Topeka during that time period who were mentioned in the newspaper in conjunction with the Chuba family.

Example of a Newspapers.com search that doesn't use the individual's full name
Example of a Newspapers.com search that doesn’t use the individual’s full name

This method requires a lot of experimenting with different keywords and testing out different searches, but you never know what you may turn up this way!

5. Pay attention to newspaper patterns.

If you’re confused about which John Smith is which in a town’s newspaper, it would’ve been confusing for people in your ancestor’s day too. So newspapers had to find a method to distinguish people with the same name in their articles. One way they sometimes did this was by including an address in conjunction with a name. But they also differentiated people by styling their names differently.

Newspapers often stuck to naming patterns when mentioning residents so that their readers could know who was being written about. John Smith may have been written about in the newspaper as “John Smith,” “Jno. Smith,” “John A. Smith,” “J. A. Smith,” “Johnny Smith,” “Jack Smith,” “Dr. Smith,” or some other variation. So your ancestor might not be “John Smith” in the newspaper at all—he might be “J. A. Smith,” while the other John Smith in town was written about as “John Smith.”

Of course, newspapers didn’t always stick strictly to naming patterns, but when you are able to find a pattern, it can be a major help in identifying your ancestor. So if you are able find your ancestor mentioned in the newspaper at least once, pay attention to how the paper styled their name!

Good luck!

List of some of the John Smiths in and around Kansas City circa 1888 (via the Kansas City Daily Gazette, 08.11.1888)
List of some of the John Smiths in and around Kansas City circa 1888 (via the Kansas City Daily Gazette, 08.11.1888)

Unfortunately, having an ancestor with a common name often means you have to spend a lot more time combing search results to find them in the newspaper. Sometimes, the best you can do is narrow your search results down to a manageable number, and then go through each result, ruling them out one by one. You may even have to do quite a bit of research into someone who isn’t your ancestor, just so you know for sure that they aren’t the person you’re looking for.

But the time and effort you spend will be well worth it when you do finally find a newspaper mention of your ancestor!

Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for finding ancestors with common names!

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How Newspapers Captured D-Day on the Home Front

On June 6, 1944, newspaper front pages throughout the United States were filled with one thing: D-Day. Huge headlines, countless articles, and striking images all told the story of the critical invasion taking place in France.

But alongside the gripping news from overseas, newspapers also documented another side to D-Day, one closer to home: They captured how the people of their communities reacted to news of the invasion.

Below, we’ve gathered a sampling of 12 of these home front reactions from around the United States, as well as Canada, England, and Australia. Click on any image, article excerpt, or headline below to view the full thing on our site.

  • Windsor Daily Star, 06.06.1944
    Windsor Daily Star, 06.06.1944

Explore more D-Day newspaper coverage on our Topic Page! Or search Newspapers.com for other D-Day content.

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19 Incredible Photos from 1919 You’ve Never Seen Before

Historical newspapers are full of amazing photographs. Unfortunately, many old newspaper photos have been long forgotten—not given a second thought since the day they were first published decades (or centuries!) ago. But thanks to the digitization of historical newspapers on sites like Newspapers.com, these photos are no longer lost to time!

To highlight a few of these remarkable historical photos, we decided to look back 100 years—to 1919. So we combed century-old newspapers on our site to find 19 incredible historical images from 1919 that you’ve probably never seen before. Some are tied to major news events—like the Boston Molasses Disaster or the first transatlantic flight—but others simply document the lives of everyday people in the year that followed World War I.

Of course, behind every photograph is a story. To learn more about any of the photos below, click on the image to view the original caption or article on our site.

Find other cool photographs in the papers on Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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How Do I Find an Obituary on Newspapers.com?

Obituaries are an invaluable genealogical resource, so they are often the first thing a family historian looks for in a newspaper. But finding an ancestor’s obituary can sometimes be tricky. So we’ve created an in-depth guide to help you find obituaries in the historical newspapers in our archives.

Why are obituaries important?

First, let’s talk about why you’d want to look for an ancestor’s obituary in the first place.

Example of an obituary with a photo included [Florence Bulletin, 02.25.1915]
Example of an obituary with a photo included [Florence Bulletin, 02.25.1915]

Obituaries can tell you information that may be hard to find through other sources, though the types of information published in obituaries can vary widely. Many have basic information like the person’s name (sometimes including maiden name for married women), age, birth date and place, and death date and place. But others may also include nicknames, cause of death, spouse’s name, children’s names, names of extended family members, employment history, education, volunteer activities, religion, military service, personality, photos, and more! All this information can be especially important if your ancestor lived in a time before statewide vital recordkeeping.

Obituaries also provide clues to other types of records you should look for. For instance, if the person’s obituary mentions military service, you can begin looking for enlistment records or pension files. And if the obituary indicates the person died in a different county than where they lived (perhaps because they were at a hospital or staying with family), this information could point you to the location of their death certificate.

Of course, it is important to keep in mind that the information in obituaries may not always be accurate. The newspaper may have gotten information wrong or misspelled names, or the surviving family members may have misremembered facts. This means it is always important to find corroborating records when possible; but still, obituaries are a great jumping off point.

Will there be an obituary for my ancestor?

Before you start looking for an obituary, it’s important to understand some historical context that may affect whether you will be able to find an obituary for your ancestor.

First of all, although obituaries have been published in newspapers since the 1600s, they only became common beginning in the early to mid-1800s. So your earlier ancestors likely would not have had an obituary published in newspapers.

Example of a death notice for a man who died away from his hometown [Bridgeport Telegram, 01.24.1918]
Example of a death notice for a man who died away from his hometown [Bridgeport Telegram, 01.24.1918]

In addition, not every person had an obituary written about them. The better-known and more prominent a person was in a community, the more likely they were to get an obituary. Plus, a well-known person would be more likely to have a longer, more-detailed piece written about them after death, while the average resident may only get a few lines.

On top of all that, small-towns papers were more likely than large-city papers to publish obituaries about their residents. Populations of big cities were too large for papers to write full obituaries for every resident. Small-town papers, on the other hand, had space to write about more of the residents.

What information do I need before I start looking for an obituary?

Since the papers on Newspapers.com are all fully searchable, you need less information to find a person’s obituary than in the past, when you had to look through physical papers or microfilm. If you are willing to spend time combing through search results, all you really need is the person’s name.

However, to make your search easier and faster, the best information to know in addition to the person’s name is their date and place of death. But other information is helpful as well, such as other locations where the person lived, any nicknames or aliases they had, and names of their spouse and close family members.

How do I start?

If you’re searching for your ancestor on Newspapers.com, one of the best first steps is to make sure you understand how to use our search, including the search filters. If you want to learn more about best practices for searching on our site, watch this tutorial video.

The next step is to search for your ancestor’s name. It will probably be the rare case when you type in your ancestor’s name and the first search result is their obituary. So there are two ways to approach finding the obituary: start with a broad search and then narrow your results, or start with a narrow search and broaden your results.

Example of an obituary reprinted years after the person's death [The Messenger and Intelligencer, 09.09.1909]
Example of an obituary reprinted years after the person’s death [The Messenger and Intelligencer, 09.09.1909]

If you want to start broad (recommended if your ancestor had a relatively unique or uncommon name), enter your ancestor’s name into our search bar. Scroll through some of the search results to see if there are any likely hits for your ancestor. If there aren’t, try adding the year of your ancestor’s death. Again, skim the results to see if there are any hits. If there still aren’t, try adding the state where your ancestor died. Continue adding time, location, and other filters until you either find what you’re looking for or exhaust the possibilities. 

If your ancestor had a fairly common name, starting narrow and going broad is likely a better approach. From the search bar, type in your ancestor’s name, add the year of death, and the location where they died. Then, if a match doesn’t show up in your search results, gradually broaden or remove the filters to reveal more possible matches.

Keep in mind that while filters can be extremely helpful in narrowing down your search results to a manageable amount, any time you use a filter, you are excluding possible matches. Here are a few important things to remember about using filters:

  1. While an obituary may have appeared in the newspaper as early as the day of the person’s death, many obituaries may not appear for a few days or even weeks. So don’t narrow your date filters too far.
  2. Searching papers in the location where your ancestor died is a good initial strategy, but remember that their obituary may have instead appeared in the location where they spent the majority of their life, or where they had living family members.
  3. Even if you think you know which newspaper the obituary is in, it’s often worth a shot to search other newspapers in the area. And if the town is near the state line, try searching nearby newspapers in the neighboring state. You can use our Newspapers Map to see which papers are available for any geographical area.

If your search returns too many results to sort through even with filters, you can try using additional search terms such as “obituary,” “death,” “died,” “dead,” “funeral,” “memorial,” “in remembrance,” etc.

I can’t find the obituary. Any more tips?

If the tips above don’t lead you to the obituary, there are some more advanced strategies you can try.

One is to try searching for your ancestor using nicknames, alternative names, initials, and misspellings. In older newspapers, men were often referred to by initials or abbreviations, and women were often referred to by their husbands’ names (e.g., Mrs. John Smith). If you’ve found other newspaper mentions of the ancestor you are trying to find an obituary for, look at how the newspaper styled the name, and then try a search using that same spelling. Noticing patterns like this can be a big help.

Example of an obituary where the woman is referred to by her husband's name [The Scranton Truth, 05.21.1906]
Example of an obituary where the woman is referred to by her husband’s name [The Scranton Truth, 05.21.1906]

Another strategy is to search using the names of a relative or two who would likely appear in the person’s obituary, such as a spouse or child. The Newspapers.com search uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to find matches. This means that a computer has tried to identify the words on each page and produce a digital version to search. But OCR, as accurate as it is, isn’t perfect, especially if the text on the page is less clear for some reason. So if you search for an obituary using the name of a close family member, it may turn up matches that the OCR wasn’t able to identify the first time.

You can also try an advanced keyword search using wildcards and Booleans. Wildcards are especially helpful if your ancestor has a name that is commonly misspelled. And Booleans are helpful if you want to really focus your search. Refer to this blog post for more help on how to use wildcards and Booleans.

If you can’t find an obituary, you can also try searching for other types of newspaper content related to your ancestor’s death. For example, some families would print a “card of thanks” in the newspaper after the funeral to thank the community for their condolences. You can also look for legal notices such as those about the person’s estate and probate. And if the person died in an accident, murder, or other unexpected manner, there may be a newspaper article about the death rather than an obituary.

What do I do if I STILL can’t find the obituary?

It may be the case that the newspaper with your ancestor’s obituary hasn’t been added to our archives yet. This is where our Save/Notify feature comes in handy. Located to the right of the search bar on your search results page, this feature allows you to save your searches so you can repeat them more easily in the future. And, even better, we will email you to let you know when new papers are added to our site that contain matches for your saved searches. You can learn more about this feature in our help center or in this blog post.

Man reads his own obituary in 1919! [The Oregon Daily Journal, 11.13.1919]
Man reads his own obituary in 1919! [The Oregon Daily Journal, 11.13.1919]

As mentioned earlier, OCR isn’t always perfect. So if you are certain there should be an obituary for your ancestor, but a keyword search on Newspapers.com isn’t bringing it up, try looking the old-fashioned way—by reading newspapers page by page.

Start by browsing in the newspaper located closest to where your ancestor died, beginning with the issue the day after their death. Then gradually expand the time period and location you are looking at. You’ll soon notice patterns that will help you look through the newspaper more quickly—such as that a newspaper published its obituaries on the same page of each issue, or that it published them on the same day each week. This method is obviously time consuming, but it may be worth it if you really want that obituary!

Happy Searching!

We hope this has been useful in helping you find your ancestor’s obituary. If you have any tips we missed that you think might help others, be sure to post them in the comments!

And get started finding your ancestors’ obituaries by searching Newspapers.com!

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80 Years of Incredible College Basketball Headlines

Because 2019 marks the 80th anniversary of the best-known college basketball tournament, we’ve compiled headlines from every 10th championship game since the tournament began in 1939. How many of these games are you familiar with?

1939: Evanston, IL

Oregon Webfoots defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes, 46-33

Quick facts: First NCAA tournament; Oregon’s only national championship for men’s basketball to date

“Zippy Zone Defense Baffles Ohio” Tue, Mar 28, 1939 – 1 · The Coos Bay Times (Marshfield, Oregon) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

1949: Seattle, WA

Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 46-36

Quick facts: Kentucky’s second title in as many title games; Second year of Kentucky’s back-to-back winning streak (1948 & 1949)

“Kentucky Whips Oklahoma A. & M.” Sun, Mar 27, 1949 – 9 · The Owensboro Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

1959: Louisville, KY

California Golden Bears defeat the West Virginia Mountaineers, 71-70

Quick facts: First title for the Golden Bears

“Bears Nip Mountaineers” Sun, Mar 22, 1959 – 33 · The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

1969: Louisville, KY

UCLA Bruins defeat the Purdue Boilermakers, 92-72

Quick facts:  Part of the UCLA glory years, during which the team won 10 NCAA titles between 1964 and 1975

“Bruins Win Unprecedented 3rd Straight Title” Sun, Mar 23, 1969 – Page 51 · The San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

1979: Salt Lake City, UT

No. 2 seed Michigan State Spartans defeat No. 1 seed Indiana State Sycamores, 75-64

Quick facts: First title game for both teams, and first title for Michigan State; Beginning of the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird rivalry; First tournament where all teams were seeded

“Magic Man Turns ISU’s Cinderella Story into Rags” Tue, Mar 27, 1979 – Page 6 · The Call-Leader (Elwood, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

1989: Seattle, WA

No. 3 seed Michigan Wolverines defeat No. 3 seed Seton Hall Pirates, 80-79

Quick facts: First title for Michigan; Overtime victory

“Michigan Wins First NCAA Title in OT” Tue, Apr 4, 1989 – 14 · The Herald-Palladium (Saint Joseph, Michigan) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

1999: St. Petersburg, FL

No. 1 seed UConn Huskies defeat No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils, 77-74

Quick facts: First title for UConn; Big upset, as Duke had an incredibly strong team, while UConn was a 9.5-point underdog

“Duke Stumbles on Its Last Step” Tue, Mar 30, 1999 – Page 27 · Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, North Carolina) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

2009: Detroit, MI

No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels defeat No. 2 seed Michigan State Spartans, 89-72

Quick facts: North Carolina had a 55-34 lead at halftime, which was the largest halftime lead in the tournament’s history as well as the most points scored in the first half

“UNC-onquerable: Tar Heels Rout Spartans” Tue, Apr 7, 2009 – 9 · Rocky Mount Telegram (Rocky Mount, North Carolina) · Newspapers.com

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

Find more newspaper coverage of your favorite college basketball championships over the years by searching Newspapers.com!

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