Use These 12 Special Keywords to Improve Your Newspaper Research Results

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When entering our search criteria in the search box on an online historical newspaper site, we often focus primarily on the name of the target ancestor or family.  We might also search for a location or an address. or combine these with a name.

My guess is that well over 90% of online newspaper searches employ the above techniques.

I offer you some additional ways to hone in on target ancestor articles, and this is to use keywords in your search criteria. Here are some examples, that if used will get you more and better results:

If you are searching for obituaries,

  • Add the keyword “Beloved” or
  • “Beloved wife” or,
  • “Beloved husband” etc. The word “beloved” is used frequently in obituaries. So entering these keywords plus the surname may focus in on obituaries.
  • Similar to “beloved” try the word “dear”, as in “dear husband” or “dear sister.” This will also focus in on obituaries.
  • A third keyword used in obituaries is “loving”.  For example, “loving daughter” or  “loving husband”.

If you are searching for a birth announcement,

  • Add in the keywords “born to the wife of”  or,
  • “Born to” along with the name and that will focus in on articles about births.

Was your ancestor a business owner?  

  • Add the word “president” or “proprietor” to the name.

Did your ancestor belong to a lodge or club? Try “president” or “chairman” or “secretary” for example.

Was your ancestor a union member?

  • Try using “Union rep”, or
  • “Shop steward”

Try using the occupation in your search criteria, such as

  • “Doctor” or “electrician” or “plumber” in conjunction with the name.


Were they in the military?

  • Try “Corporal” or “Sergeant” or Captain”, etc.

There are all kinds of ways to narrow in on your ancestors in old newspapers.  Using these keywords will definitely help. In fact, I guarantee it.

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3 thoughts on “Use These 12 Special Keywords to Improve Your Newspaper Research Results”

  1. What a great article. As I read through the examples, I kept thinking about how many newspaper articles had those key words in them. Thanks for the information!

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