Legal News & Records in Newspapers & Your Ancestors

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” If your ancestor had trouble with the law or was the victim of a crime – or participated in a civil or criminal trial – law articles in the newspapers of that time might have family history information to help your genealogy. In this blog article, Gena gives several examples of law articles she found while searching old newspapers, and shows what good genealogy information they provide.

One of the reasons I love newspapers for my family history research is that they tell the story of a community, the entire story both good and bad. Legal news and records of all types can be found in the newspaper including arrests, court cases (criminal and civil), as well as investigations into crime. Unlike other types of newspaper topics, those involving the law result in numerous follow-up articles as court cases are heard over days and weeks, or as an offender is arrested multiple times.

Let’s look at a few examples of legal articles to see what you can find out about your ancestors in the pages of old newspapers.

Police Blotters

Have a black sheep ancestor who was up to no good? The first place you may find their misdeeds mentioned is in the newspaper’s police blotter. What I love about these short news articles is they often provide other details, like the victim’s name and address.

This example includes a notice that 13-year-old James Pooler was committed by his father to the House of Refuge. Judging from the mention in this same article of a 14-year-old boy who was similarly committed for the crime of stealing lead from the Bell Telephone Company, my guess is that the House of Refuge was Juvenile Hall.

It seems stealing lead was not that unusual. This same notice reports that the prize fighter “Bull” McCarthy was also arrested for stealing lead.

police blotter, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 2 February 1900

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 2 February 1900, page 9

Genealogy Search Tip: it’s easy to get in a rut with your newspaper searches. Make sure you don’t just stick to one keyword or keyword phrase as you search. Case in point: the phrase “police blotter.” Sure that’s the typical wording on the daily or weekly reports regarding police activity and arrests. But in this 1918 Georgia newspaper, the “Town in Tabloid” column reported on police activity such as fines and arrests. In this example, those mentioned received stolen goods, violated traffic laws, or were committed to a state asylum.

police blotter, Macon Telegraph newspaper article 21 May 1918

Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 21 May 1918, page 11

Court Trials

Some of the best parts of a local newspaper are the articles or even brief mentions of criminal and civil court trials. In this example from a 1921 Washington newspaper, notice that the two young defendants, 21 and 19 years of age, wanted to speak to their mothers before revealing their plea.

article about court hearings, Bellingham Herald newspaper article 29 January 1921

Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington), 29 January 1921, page 5

In the case of one of my ancestors who was murdered in the 1870s, his trial was covered in numerous articles over time and from many areas, as well as newspapers covering the county where he lived.

Genealogy Search Tip: Depending on the details of the crime, don’t forget to enlarge your search to include all newspapers, not just the one for the area where your ancestor lived.

Coroner’s Inquests

One type of newspaper article you may have missed in your previous searches is reports of a coroner’s inquest. These investigations involve coroner personnel and a jury of citizens who try to determine the manner of death. These events can be found in the newspaper and may contain several days of testimony. Although this type of inquiry is for fact finding, afterwards, if the death is determined to be murder, criminal charges may be filed by law enforcement.

In this example from the bilingual newspaper Anunciador (Trinidad, Colorado), two men – Joe Romero and Margarito Diaz – engaged in a fight that resulted in Diaz shooting and killing Romero.

article about Joe Romero's murder, Anunciador newspaper article 4 March 1922

Anunciador (Trinidad, Colorado), 4 March 1922, page 3

From follow-up newspaper articles, we learn that Diaz professed his innocence at his criminal trial by claiming that the dead man, Romero, had first come toward him with a revolver and “made a movement to draw this weapon.” This news article informs the reader that the Diaz and Romero families lived in the same house and there was a witness to the shooting.

article about Margarito Diaz's trial for killing Joe Romero, Anunciador newspaper article 1 April 1922

Anunciador (Trinidad, Colorado), 1 April 1922, page 1

One of the reasons that newspaper articles about legal actions can result in genealogical gold is that they typically involve multiple articles over time. What might start as a notice in the police blotter may then go to a coroner’s inquest or an article reporting an arrest, and then articles on the trial, and so forth. These newspaper articles are great additions to the family history information you can find in court records.

A good example of all the various types of articles that can come out of legal activities is the following case from 1898 involving Lillian Brandes, a teenage California girl. Numerous articles over time were published in newspapers throughout the United States, most likely because it involved the brutal murder of a young girl. Originally reported as a suicide by her adopted parents, the inquest found that the girl was beaten and killed by her father, with her mother being arrested as an accessory.

article about the murder of Lillian Brandes, Tacoma Daily News newspaper article 23 November 1898

Tacoma Daily News (Tacoma, Washington), 23 November 1898, page 1

Not only does the newspaper report the legal events surrounding the murder, it also provides a short obituary for the young girl.

obituary for Lillian Brandes, Evening News newspaper article 28 November 1898

Evening News (San Jose, California), 28 November 1898, page 5

Just as a criminal trial that catches our interest today, each day of the trial resulted in an article updating the public on what was happening. In this old newspaper article we learn that in the preliminary hearing a neighbor recounted the screams and argument right before the murder.

testimony about the murder of Lillian Brandes, Evening News newspaper article 3 December 1898

Evening News (San Jose, California), 3 December 1898, page 1

Like many other cases, the court trial seemed to go on and on. In January 1899, there was a motion for a new trial by the Brandes due to their belief that they could not get a fair trial in the current venue.

Brandes Wants a New Trial, Evening News newspaper article 30 January 1899

Evening News (San Jose, California), 30 January 1899, page 5

Brandes was convicted, but then was tried a second time. In the second trial the testimony included the physician who was summoned to the death scene. Interestingly, at first he thought the girl was still alive and asked for some whiskey to restore her. Mr. Brandes proclaimed the girl was adopted and “this is what a person gets for adopting a stranger into the family.”

article about the trial of W. Brandes for murdering Lillian Brandes, Evening News newspaper article 31 May 1901

Evening News (San Jose, California), 31 May 1901, page 7

Newspaper articles about this crime didn’t stop at the conclusion of the court trial. Later news articles report on the prison escape attempt by Mr. Brandes, his release from prison, his later divorce from his wife and subsequent arrest on other charges.

Did your ancestor have any interactions or altercations with the law? Even if it was a non-criminal act or they were the victim of a crime, you may find that thorough genealogy research in court records and newspapers will provide a wealth of information. This is a good example of not making assumptions about your ancestor’s life, and enlarging your search to include newspapers in other areas of the country. The best thing about black sheep ancestors? They leave the best paper trail!

Related Articles:

Court Records in Newspapers: A Gold Mine for Genealogy Research

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over nine years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” In this blog post, Duncan show how legal articles in old newspapers can tell you about some of the experiences your ancestors went through, and help steer additional research into their court cases and legal issues.

Court records are a gold mine for genealogists. A court record can be anything from a probate record, divorce decree, or guardianship case, to a criminal trial or civil action. Most of our ancestors were involved in the court system in one way or another. But how do you know what court records include your ancestors? Searching through old newspapers, such as those in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, is a good way to find clues.

Americans were just as litigious in grandma’s time as they are now. Many people owned land, and that property would have to be distributed upon their death through a will (testate) or letters of administration in the absence of a will (intestate). Our ancestors were also called as witnesses in cases involving their neighbors. And so on.

These court records add a tremendous amount of texture to our understanding of our ancestors’ lives. Knowing more about who our ancestors were and what they were doing can increase our attachment and understanding of them. In addition, court records can also solve brick wall situations. For example, you may find that great-grandpa Connors and his son Jacob were sued for poaching on their neighbor’s property. If you were trying to connect Jacob to his father with documentation, you would have direct evidence of their relationship.

Information Contained in Court Records

Court documents will vary in what information is found within. For example, a probate record might include the names of the decedent’s heirs, what property they owned, clues about their lifestyle, etc. A divorce decree may list the minor children of a couple, the cause of the divorce, etc.

Not all of the records within each type of court document will have the same kind of information. For example, not all wills mention the names of all the heirs. One will I found simply left the decedent’s property “to be divided equally among my children.” However, other wills are highly detailed and informative. Some court document files can be hundreds of pages long!

Court records use legal verbiage, which can be confusing at times. Don’t let this deter you. There are many resources available to work through this challenging legal language. After a while, your comfort level with legal terms will increase and reading the court documents will become easier.

You will also begin to notice that certain phrases are repeated in court records. For example, a will often starts with the phrase, “In the name of God, Amen.” These types of phrases are called boilerplate, and recognizing them can help in reading the court documents. Becoming familiar with these common phrases and how they were used will increase your understanding of what the court document actually says. In the case of the beginning of a will, the phrase “In the name of God, Amen” does not indicate that your ancestor was highly religious; it was just a legal phrase used to begin a will. However, it does mean that your ancestor did not object to such language – which would mean they were not a Quaker or staunch atheist, for example.

Old Newspapers & Court Documents in the News

The main challenge researching your ancestors’ court records is finding them. You may not know a court case existed at all. You may not know in which jurisdiction to begin searching. You may not know what date to search. Unfortunately, most court records are not indexed. You can search through docket books and/or court minute books, but this can be a time consuming venture – especially if you aren’t sure a court case even existed.

Fortunately, there is an effective alternative: searching historical newspaper archives. Old newspapers often listed the cases seen before the court each week or term. Digitized newspapers online are easily searchable, and this often makes finding the court case a breeze!

The legal notices in a newspaper can take several forms. Here is one newspaper that organized the trial list by day:

article about court trials, Washington Reporter newspaper article 27 December 1876

Washington Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania), 27 December 1876, page 1

This newspaper organized its legal list by type of case, court, and room. It even included the case number (bless them!).

article about court trials, Plain Dealer newspaper article 20 May 1897

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 20 May 1897, page 8

This newspaper gave a short synopsis of what happened during the hearing:

article about court trials, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 7 June 1897

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 7 June 1897, page 8

Why were newspapers reporting this information? There are a number of reasons for making court case info public; three come immediately to mind. The first reason being that there was a legal requirement, in many cases, to publish the date of a hearing so that those who were affected could come to the courthouse and participate. Second, it has always been a part of the American justice system to have an open court, except in unusual circumstances. And lastly, before the advent of TV, this was actually a form of entertainment.

How to Find Court Records in GenealogyBank

To find legal information relating to your ancestors in the newspaper, some exceptional search techniques are required. For most genealogy research, you should not narrow a newspaper search down to just one paper. Searching for legal notices in the newspaper is the exception to this general research rule because the cases are often listed just by last name. Entering in “Robertson” without narrowing your search by a newspaper or region would yield far too many results to be practical.

Here are instructions for narrowing your results to a town or specific newspaper when searching GenealogyBank’s records. From the home page, go ahead and enter the last name only of the ancestor you’re researching.

screenshot of the search box on GenealogyBank's home page

Once the results page appears, select “Newspaper Archive (1690-2010).” Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the state. Once the new results page has loaded, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the city. If you still need to narrow it further, scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter the keyword “court,” a date range, or select a single newspaper. (Chose one, not all three.)

Once you find the correct jurisdiction, date, and possibly even case number from various newspaper articles, you can go search through the original case files to find the valuable information you are seeking. Some of these files have been digitized and are available on Others you will need to track down by contacting the court in question and asking where their archives are kept.

Note that GenealogyBank also has a category dedicated to court records, case files and legal news that can help you narrow your search.

I hope you take advantage of court records in your family history research. The information found therein is exceptionally beneficial. Using newspapers to aid your search can make the process much simpler and more likely to yield positive results. Happy searching!

Related Articles:

How to Research Legal Notices in Newspapers for Genealogy

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena shows how legal notices published in old newspapers are a great genealogy resource, providing a wealth of family history information.

When doing your family history research, have you ever given much thought to those legal notices found at the back of the newspaper? Legal notices in newspapers have an important purpose: they notify the public about government and individual actions so that readers may take action if necessary. The publishing of these public notices dates back to 1789, when Congress “required all bills, orders, resolutions and congressional votes to be published in at least three publicly available newspapers.”*

According to the genealogical text, The Source, legal notices may include: “land sales for payment of taxes, administration in probate, proving of wills, heirship determination and the settlement of estates, pending divorce proceedings, sales of properties of insolvent estates, and more.”**

Have you looked for your ancestor in these public notices published in newspapers? These legal articles can lead you to additional sources stored in courthouse archives, county government offices, and beyond. Let’s look at a few examples.

Probate & Estate Notices to Creditors

One genealogically rich source of information is the Notice to Creditors for estates being probated.

At the very least these probate notices provide the deceased’s name, such as this example found in an Arizona newspaper following the death of Mary J. Griffin.

This legal notice is a good reminder to not make assumptions about female ancestors. We often assume women in earlier times didn’t leave behind wills, but they may have – and if so, legal notice of that will or testament might have been published in the local newspaper. Legal notices are a wonderful source for researching female ancestors.

a legal notice for Mary Griffin, Tucson Citizen newspaper article 26 July 1915

Tucson Citizen (Tucson, Arizona), 26 July 1915, page 5

Legal notices will often include a family member’s name who was administering the estate. This notice to creditors article example from an Idaho newspaper includes the name of the deceased, S. F. Beery, and the name of the executor who was most likely a relative, David Beery.

legal notice for S. F. Beery, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 26 June 1905

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 26 June 1905, page 5

Court Actions & Case Files

Notices of court actions in the newspaper include everything from divorces to individual lawsuits, delinquent tax issues, and foreclosures on property. Consider this example from a Minnesota newspaper that not only notifies the defendants about the court action, it mentions the land that is at the heart of the case.

legal notice for Elizabeth Field, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 11 January 1910

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 11 January 1910, page 11

Let’s face it, even our ancestors had money troubles – and that’s nowhere more obvious than in the Notice of Summons for delinquent taxes. This example from a North Carolina newspaper published during the Great Depression is an entire page of delinquent tax notices, and includes the names of married couples as well as individuals.

legal notices, Greensboro Record newspaper article 22 August 1932

Greensboro Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), 22 August 1932, page 12

Divorces can be found in various parts of the newspaper (see Divorce Records in Newspapers: Genealogy Research Tips) including the legal notices section. In this example from an Oregon newspaper, Loretta Gates believed her husband John W. Gates to be dead, so a notice was published in the newspaper giving him the opportunity, if alive, to respond to her divorce petition. It states:

SIR: PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a petition has been presented to this court by Loretta Gates for dissolution of your marriage on the ground that you absented yourself for five successive years, last past, without being known to her to be living, and she believes you to be dead, and that pursuant to an order of said court, entered the 22d day of December 1949, a hearing will be had upon said petition at Supreme Court…

legal notice for Loretta Gates, Oregonian newspaper article 12 February 1950

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 12 February 1950, page 39

This notice ran in the newspaper for at least three consecutive Sundays, providing ample time for a living Mr. Gates to read it.

Enter Last Name


Government notices in the newspaper may provide you a better understanding of an event, or even an occupation, that affected your ancestor. In this legal notice from a Mississippi newspaper, the city of Gulfport in 1936 was taking bids from those who wanted to feed prisoners.

legal notice, Daily Herald newspaper article 31 December 1936

Daily Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), 31 December 1936, page 3

It’s important to remember that newspaper articles may report on activities that impacted your ancestor’s life, but they won’t be specifically named. Search the census and city directories for your ancestor’s job and then turn to the newspaper to learn more about how they may have acquired that job.

And Then This…

I have to admit that when I think of legal notices, I think of a certain type of notice such as those I’ve highlighted above. But you never know what you might find, including this one from a San Quentin prisoner published in a California newspaper.

legal notice for Charles Cupp, San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article 9 January 1927

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California), 9 January 1927, page 73

This pardon notice for Charles S. Cupp surprised me – though I guess it shouldn’t have. His seeking a pardon would have been of interest to the community, and its publishing provided the community – and the victim of his crime – with notification so that they could then respond. Cupp had been convicted of shooting at a police officer.

Did You Know?

GenealogyBank has a special category for legal records, probate records and court case files. Explore legal records now >>

Genealogy Tip: Don’t limit your newspaper search to just one type of article. Make sure to examine all kinds of newspaper articles, including legal notices that mention your ancestor by name or involved activities that impacted their lives.


* “Public notice and the role Oregon newspapers play.” Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Accessed 3 May 2015.
** “Newspapers” by Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, and James L. Hansen, FASG in Szucs, Loretto D, and Sandra H. Luebking. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2006.

Related Legal Notices Articles:

Genealogy Research with Legal Notices in Newspapers

Newspapers have long been the way that official notices of court actions, legal matters and other announcements have been communicated to the public, and researching these legal notices can help you learn more about your ancestors and fill in details on your family tree.

This blog post highlights some of the past articles we’ve published on the GenealogyBank Blog about researching legal notices in newspapers. Just click on the title of any article that interests you to read the full blog post.

divorce notices, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 22 May 1914

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 22 May 1914, page 16

screenshot of a GenealogyBank search results page showing sample “Legal/Probate/Court” records

GenealogyBank search results page showing sample “Legal/Probate/Court” records

name change notice for Max Kaplansky, Daily People newspaper article 25 September 1901

Daily People (New York, New York), 25 September 1901, page 1

How to Find Your Ancestor’s Divorce Records in the Newspaper

divorce notices, St. Louis Republic newspaper article 25 June 1889

St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, Missouri), 25 June 1889, page 12

land sale notice by Artemas Bryant, Barre Gazette newspaper article 13 February 1857

Barre Gazette (Barre, Massachusetts), 13 February 1857, page 3

article about Latin terms, Springfield Union newspaper article 5 May 1977

Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 5 May 1977, page 19

Researching Legal, Probate & Court Records Found in Newspapers

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena shows how those small-print legal notices found in the back of newspapers—often ignored by most readers—can provide important clues to help you break through your genealogy brick walls.

When reading your daily newspapers, are there certain sections you skip over? For many people there is the tendency to skip over the legal notices, typically found in the back of the paper, densely squeezed together and printed in a too-small font. As readers we may think: “why should I read the legal notices?” But as genealogists it would be a mistake to skip over them—they can be a great source of family history information.

Legal notices are notifications placed in the newspaper that alert the community of judicial actions. These can be matters involving estates, divorces, taxes, and land transactions. A 1957 Wisconsin statute states that a legal notice is defined as “…every summons, order, citation, notice of sale, or other notice and every other advertisement of any description required to be published by law or in pursuance of any law or of any order of any court.”* These public legal notices can lead you to records found at the courthouse, a county assessor or recorder’s office, and even additional newspaper articles.

How to Find Legal Notices on GenealogyBank

One way to search for your ancestor in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives is to use the search engine, either the basic or the advanced search, to enter a name, perhaps a place, and even a date or date range. But don’t forget that GenealogyBank allows you to narrow your search results further by article type. Using the list found on the left hand side of your results page, choose the  Legal, Probate & Court option to search for your ancestor in legal notices.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search results page showing the Legal, Probate and Court records search option

Probate Notices in Newspapers

So what is of genealogical value in these legal notices? Plenty. Consider the notices of probate actions. One of my friends was researching her grandfather who had died and left a will. Problem was, the county courthouse serving the area where he died required payment for a search of the probate index—and then, after she paid, responded by telling her there was no court case. She knew there was a probate case because her father had been the executor of the will. So what do you do when an official entity tells you there isn’t a case? I suggested she turn to newspapers and search in the legal notices section. Sure enough, she was able to find the probate case—and with a copy of that legal notice, went back to the court clerks who were then able to provide her with the file.

probate notices, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper articles 25 January 1908

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 25 January 1908, page 9

Probate notices in newspapers can provide you names, dates, and information that you can follow up with at the courthouse. In the case of these notices from 1908 in Minnesota, the name of the deceased, the person administering the probate, the judge, and the next court date are listed.

Enter Last Name

Genealogy Tip: Even if your ancestor left no will, there still could have been a probate case. Did they own land, a home, or owe money? Make sure to check for the existence of a probate.

Divorce Notices in the News

I’ve written about newspaper divorce notices on this blog before (see How to Find Your Ancestor’s Divorce Records in the Newspaper). Divorces notices can show up in various newspaper articles, but don’t forget that a notice requiring an appearance in court will be found in the legal notices. In these examples from 1914 Philadelphia, the defendant is told that their spouse has “filed a libel in the Court of Common Pleas…praying a divorce against you.” Those who do not show up on the date provided in this notice are forewarned “you will be liable to have a divorce granted in your absence.” Notice that in these examples, the court date and address of the defendant are listed.

divorce legal notices, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper articles 22 May 1914

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 22 May 1914, page 16

Are you new to court research? On GenealogyBank’s Legal, Probate & Court Records search box, there is a link you can click to get court record search tips.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's Legal, Probate and Court records search page showing the Search Tips link

Trustee’s Sale Notices

One of the genealogical benefits of legal notices is that our women ancestors do appear in these postings. Unfortunately, many of these notices are about the more difficult periods of a person’s life, as in this example of listings of Trustee’s Sales. As you can see, both the wife and the husband are listed in these sale notices. These 1891 examples are a good reminder that our ancestors may have been facing difficult financial times, just as many people faced in the more recent housing market collapse. If you find a notice where your ancestor’s home or property is being foreclosed on, you may want to conduct additional research to determine if there was a larger economic collapse that affected their lives. While we are most familiar with the Great Depression of the 1930s, other similar economic crises have happened in U.S. history. For example, two years after these newspaper notices appeared, there was a financial panic in 1893 that included the closing of many banks and high unemployment rates.

Auction Sales by Trustee, Kansas City Times newspaper article 29 January 1891

Kansas City Times (Kansas City, Missouri), 29 January 1891, page 9

Legal notices in newspapers help tell the story of our ancestors’ lives. While they are often ignored, these legal notices contain rich information including names, street addresses, and dates with the court that can help us find additional documentation to fill out the details on our family trees.


*Burke, James J. Wisconsin Statutes, 1957: Embracing All General Statutes in Force at the Close of the General Session of 1957. Racine, 1957, p. 3551.

Related Legal & Court Record Articles:

Genealogy Records You Can Find In Newspaper Archives Infographic

Genealogy Records in Newspaper Archives

Is the Infographic image above too small? See the larger version.

Newspapers offer a variety of genealogy records that you can use to trace back your family tree. Learn about the types of genealogy records that can be found in newspapers and discover the family history information that each record type contains below.


Obituaries are an excellent source of genealogical information. Obits contain your deceased ancestor’s date of death and burial place, and often provide details about their spouse, children, parents as well as other extended family.

Passenger Lists

From passenger ships arriving at naturalization ports to stage coaches traveling across the frontier, several types of passenger lists are printed in newspapers. These lists contain the names of our traveling ancestors.

Birth Records

Birth records in newspapers include birth announcements and birth notices. These records contain the name of the newborn, time, date and place of birth as well as information about the infant’s parents, siblings and grandparents.

Legal Records

Many types of legal records are made public in newspapers. Probate records, court case records and name change records contain valuable genealogical information such as ancestors’ names, relatives, places of residence and more.


Newspapers record many of life’s special moments. As such, you can find pictures of your ancestors in wedding photos, family reunion photos, birthday photos and old photo illustrations and sketches often printed in newspapers.

Marriage Records

Engagement announcements and marriage records are commonly printed in newspapers. These records give the name of the bride and groom, and provide details about the wedding including family members and friends in attendance.

New & Improved Newspaper Search!

With GenealogyBank’s new newspaper search functionality you can easily search each of the genealogy record types covered here to discover more about your family history.

Search now at:

Click the options in the left navigation to search by record types.

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Genealogy Search Tip: Are Your Queries Returning Too Many Records?

GenealogyBank has grown from 160 million records since its inception to over 1.3 billion records today. That is a lot of articles to search through to find information about your family history. Genealogists often approach GenealogyBank with a direct search—using a surname—searching across the entire database to make sure we don’t miss any genealogy records about the family.

Sometimes, though, the simplest search query returns too many records for you to reasonably examine them all. When that happens, GenealogyBank has created over a dozen targeted search pages to help you narrow down the number of results you get back. Here’s a quick list of these helpful targeted search pages to get you started:

You can also perform targeted ethnic family searches with our African American, Hispanic and Irish American search pages.

Use these special search pages to narrow down your search to a particular type of newspaper article, as the following example shows.

Let’s say you’re searching for all the arrivals and departures of the ship Hector. If you search GenealogyBank just using the word “Hector,” you’ll get 400,000 hits. But, if you search the word “Hector” using the handy Passenger Lists link on our home page or in the left navigation pane of the Newspaper Archives category, you can narrow those search results to 14,000 passenger and ship records that specifically mention the ship Hector.

GenealogyBank Passenger List search for "Hector"

GenealogyBank Passenger List search for “Hector”

Even 14,000 records are a lot to examine. Limit the search again by a range of years when your relatives likely arrived on the ship Hector and you’ll have a manageable number of articles to sift through. Let’s say you are reasonably sure your ancestors arrived in America on the ship Hector sometime between 1820 and 1825—go ahead and use that date range in your search query.

GenealogyBank search results page for Passenger List search on "Hector" from 1820-1825

GenealogyBank search results page for Passenger List search on “Hector” from 1820-1825

Save time and zero in on the articles you need. GenealogyBank has more than a dozen targeted search pages: use them to focus your searches for the type of newspaper article you are looking for.

GenealogyBank targeted search pages

GenealogyBank targeted search pages