Why You Should Search for Addresses in Newspapers

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For anyone who reads articles on this website you know that I am addicted to searching for my ancestors in newspapers. Hence my creation of the Newspapers! Page on this site, over 28,300 free newspaper links on the Newspaper Links Page, as well as about a hundred or so articles about researching old newspapers. Not to mention a Facebook Group focused on “Genealogy and Newspapers.” And despite over a decade of searching, there is always something new to learn. 

Thanks to reader Diane a few years ago, she made me aware of a technique that I was embarrassed to say that I hadn’t previously thought of. Maybe I have had too much success doing surname and full name searches and other techniques, I don’t know.

From Diane:

” I wanted to share something that I have found helpful. I was recently trying to confirm the accuracy of an article I found in a newspaper regarding the death of two brothers in WWI. I noticed that early newspaper articles included the address of people, such as John Doe of 123 Main St.  When I ran out of results to view in my name searches, I decided to put in the address as a keyword. Bingo… I received hits that didn’t come back in my name search (even though the name was in the article). It isn’t foolproof of course as our ancestors moved around. You have to be sure the article is referring to YOUR ancestor living at 123 Main St. and not someone else. If I don’t know the address, I check census records or city directories. It’s just another tool in my newspaper arsenal.  And, by the way, I was able to prove that the newspaper article (about the WWI deaths) was wrong.  

You first have to make sure you’re searching in the right paper. More than one city has a Main Street or Broadway, etc.  In my specific example, there is a 546 Bryant in San Francisco and Chicago… I needed to make sure I was getting results for the Denver area.”

In DIane’s example, she was using Genealogy Bank, but the same techniques can be used in most newspaper search engines by just encasing the search term (in this case the address) in quotes in the search box.

So, search for addresses as well as names and you might be surprised at what you find. I’ve tried this technique with a few positive results!

And thanks to Diane – this old dog (me) indeed learned new tricks!

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3 thoughts on “Why You Should Search for Addresses in Newspapers”

  1. I agree this is a great idea. A few week ago I searched an address in Paris for my GGGfather and my GGfather who were “ouvriers en piano” (worked to build pianos or components). I thought is was their home, but it turned out it was the piano factory’s address and this way I now know where they worked and I was also able to make more research on that factory. Annick

  2. What a wonderful tip! I love to search for newspaper articles about my ancestors, too, and have never thought of searching for their address. I will give it try!

  3. I did this on the house I grew up in and found a very interesting history of the house! A lady and her son were using the basement to create bootleg whiskey! I also found out who lived there during different years and that it had been a rental house, so people moved in and out often.

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