Getting Your Ancestor’s Obituary and a Bonus, Too

GenealogyBank’s deep backfile newspaper archives are packed with stories—over 1.6 billion of them.

I like it when old obituaries give key details in the lives of our ancestors. It’s always a bonus when you find that a photo was included with their obituary.

Here are some examples:

obituary for Alphonso Boone, Oregonian newspaper article 4 April 1915

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 4 April 1915, page 16

obituary for Mrs. O. H. Adams, Oregonian newspaper article 6 March 1902

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 6 March 1902, page 4

obituary for Ida Gevurtz, Morning Oregonian newspaper article 26 April 1921

Morning Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 26 April 1921, page 4

These great stories and photos were found in the Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) Newspaper Archives (1861–1987). Dig into our Newspaper Archives (1690 – 2010) and see what you find.

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Using Obituaries to Pay It Forward: Boomerang Effect

I am always looking at Kemps, wanting to know if they are related to me or not.

Since Kemp is a pretty rare surname, I like to pull recent “Kemp” obituaries and trace back their family line to see if the person is a relative of mine. If he is—terrific; I’ll add his line to my family tree. But if he’s not I am still glad I took the time since the more “Kemp” family trees I can plant, trace and put online, the faster I will have found and documented my family and at the same time made it easier for other Kemps to discover their family history.

It will take a while, but I’d like to think that I can organize and account for all Kemps—and by putting the genealogical information I find online, I am making a lasting contribution for further genealogy research, sort of creating an extended Kemp family forest.

Researching Further with Recent Obituaries

Here’s what I do.

I go to GenealogyBank’s Recent Newspaper Obituaries collection and pull a recent Kemp obituary to see which Kemp line that person belongs to.

For example, here is the obituary for Fred Benny Kemp, who died one week ago.

obituary for Fred Benny Kemp, Avenue News newspaper article 29 August 2014

Avenue News (Essex, Maryland), 29 August 2014

I took this recent Kemp obituary and plugged the information into my online family tree. Looking at the old newspapers, the census and similar sources, I quickly pulled together his family tree.

No, Fred Benny Kemp is not related to my Kemp line—but the tree is planted online so future family historians can build on the family tree I started.

Digging Deeper into the Kemp Story

But wait—there’s more.

Fred Benny Kemp was in World War II—a gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber.

Hey—so was my Dad.

Maybe there is a connection after all.

Googling for more information, I found this video interview on YouTube uploaded by WBAL – Baltimore, Maryland, in 2012:

http://youtu.be/LLmG3dqBC5c

Here is the key quote:

In World War Two I flew a B-24 with the 450 Bomb Group, 722nd Bomb Squadron.

Hey—that sounds familiar.

I double checked, and my Dad was in the 450 Bomb Group—but in the 723rd Squadron. Both were stationed in Manduria, Italy.

Had their paths in life ever crossed?

Had they met each other?

Almost—but they didn’t meet.

According to the video interview, Fred Kemp’s B-24 left his air base in Manduria, Italy, on 25 February 1944, when he was shot down and remained a POW for the duration of the war. Since my Dad was transferred to Manduria four months later on 11 June 1944 they never met.

Search All Your Surname Obituaries

Using GenealogyBank’s obituaries to research “all” Kemps who have lived in America is a fun way to pay it forward and help other genealogists. It was also good to see that these two Kemps—though not related—had similar experiences in the war. If I hadn’t picked his obituary at random, I never would have learned the rest of this story.

Do you ever research your extended family tree using obituaries? If so, what nuggets have you found? Please share with us in the comments.

Related Obituary Research Articles & Video Tutorial:

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Connecticut Archives: 151 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Connecticut, the southernmost state in New England, is the third smallest state in the nation—yet the fourth most densely populated. The state is named after the large river (the Connecticut River) which flows through its middle, emptying into Long Island Sound. This name comes from an Algonquian Indian word for “long tidal river.”

photo of Western Barndoor Hill, Connecticut

Photo: Western Barndoor Hill, Connecticut. Credit: Sphilbrick; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Connecticut, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online Connecticut newspaper archives: 151 titles to help you search your family history in “The Constitution State,” providing coverage from 1755 to Today. There are more than 8 million newspaper articles and records in our online CT archives to trace your family tree!

Dig deep into the online archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your ancestors in these recent and historical Connecticut newspapers online. Our CT newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Connecticut Newspaper Archives (1755 – 2002)

Search Connecticut Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Connecticut newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The CT newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range Collection
Ansonia, Derby, and Seymour Valley Gazette 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge Amity Observer: Web Edition 11/5/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge Amity Observer 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Connecticut Post 5/21/2001 – 6/30/2002 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Republican Farmer 4/25/1810 – 8/11/1876 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport American Telegraphe 4/8/1795 – 6/6/1804 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Connecticut Courier 8/3/1814 – 6/14/1826 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Spirit of the Times 10/6/1830 – 9/26/1832 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Herald 3/7/1805 – 1/9/1806 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Advertiser 6/5/1806 – 1/5/1809 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Gazette 6/27/1810 – 1/9/1811 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport News 3/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Connecticut Post 9/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Bridgeport News, The: Web Edition 3/14/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bristol Bristol Press 12/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cheshire Cheshire Herald 10/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danbury Danbury Gazette 8/3/1813 – 4/19/1814 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Republican Journal 7/1/1793 – 1/6/1800 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Connecticut Intelligencer 1/31/1810 – 11/7/1810 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Day 5/19/1812 – 12/15/1812 Newspaper Archives
Danbury News-Times 3/14/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Times 6/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien News-Review 10/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Easton Easton Daily Voice 6/30/2010 – 6/7/2012 Recent Obituaries
Easton Easton Courier 12/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Gazette 10/26/1786 – 9/23/1789 Newspaper Archives
Fairfield Fairfield Citizen News 1/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Daily Voice 5/3/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Sun 9/18/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glastonbury Rivereast News Bulletin 9/4/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Post 10/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Daily Voice 6/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Citizen 11/8/2002 – 4/17/2013 Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Time 8/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hamden Hamden Journal 12/7/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Connecticut Courant 10/29/1764 – 12/28/1876 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Daily Courant 2/3/1840 – 10/25/1914 Newspaper Archives
Hartford American Mercury 7/12/1784 – 6/25/1833 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Mirror 7/10/1809 – 12/15/1832 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times 1/1/1817 – 9/2/1876 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Religious Inquirer 11/10/1821 – 11/7/1835 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Patriot and Eagle 3/7/1835 – 12/30/1837 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Gazette 1/13/1794 – 3/19/1795 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times and Weekly Advertiser 1/12/1829 – 12/28/1829 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Times 2/6/1832 – 8/16/1864 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Observer 1/11/1825 – 10/3/1831 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Commercial Record 1/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford News 4/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Courant 7/9/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Advocate 11/7/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kensington Berlin Citizen 6/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Litchfield Litchfield Monitor 12/21/1784 – 7/1/1807 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Republican 5/19/1819 – 6/13/1856 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Witness 8/14/1805 – 6/24/1807 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Gazette 3/16/1808 – 5/17/1809 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Journal 4/8/1818 – 10/20/1818 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Sun 4/25/1835 – 4/13/1839 Newspaper Archives
Manchester Journal Inquirer 3/8/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Meriden Record-Journal 12/8/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Meriden North Haven Citizen 3/18/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middlefield Town Times 6/30/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middletown Middlesex Gazette 11/8/1785 – 1/23/1834 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Constitution 12/29/1841 – 12/30/1879 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Sentinel and Witness 1/1/1823 – 8/7/1833 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Daily Constitution 7/10/1872 – 8/5/1876 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Connecticut Spectator 4/20/1814 – 4/10/1816 Newspaper Archives
Milford Milford Mirror 11/30/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monroe Monroe Courier 3/8/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mystic Mystic Pioneer 3/12/1859 – 3/2/1867 Newspaper Archives
Mystic Mystic River Press 1/11/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Britain Herald 12/1/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan News-Review 11/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Advertiser 8/8/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Register 10/23/1878 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Columbian Register 1/5/1813 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Journal 10/23/1767 – 2/24/1835 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Herald 11/1/1803 – 3/30/1889 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Daily Herald 3/12/1836 – 12/30/1843 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New Haven Palladium 7/19/1861 – 12/31/1863 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette, and Connecticut Magazine 2/15/1786 – 6/18/1789 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette 5/13/1784 – 2/9/1786 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Visitor 10/30/1802 – 10/25/1803 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Chronicle 4/25/1786 – 9/11/1787 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Gazette 9/20/1755 – 1/12/1767 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Black Coalition Weekly 3/6/1972 – 9/14/1972 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Fairfield County Weekly 2/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Register 1/3/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Advocate 11/5/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
New London Connecticut Gazette 11/18/1763 – 5/29/1844 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Daily Chronicle 4/26/1848 – 12/31/1864 Newspaper Archives
New London Morning News 11/8/1844 – 4/25/1848 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Democrat 3/21/1845 – 4/12/1873 Newspaper Archives
New London People’s Advocate 8/26/1840 – 4/26/1848 Newspaper Archives
New London Bee 6/14/1797 – 6/23/1802 Newspaper Archives
New London Weekly Oracle 10/22/1796 – 12/30/1799 Newspaper Archives
New London Republican Advocate 1/2/1822 – 12/10/1828 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Daily Star 1/5/1857 – 8/16/1860 Newspaper Archives
New London New-London Summary 9/29/1758 – 9/23/1763 Newspaper Archives
New London True Republican 7/1/1807 – 2/24/1808 Newspaper Archives
New London Day, The: Archive 7/24/2003 – 12/29/2006 Recent Obituaries
New Milford New Milford Spectrum 10/10/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newtown Newtown Bee 1/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Independent Republican 6/17/1802 – 4/6/1803 Newspaper Archives
Norwalk Norwalk Citizen News 12/13/2002 – 11/11/2013 Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Norwalk Daily Voice 4/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwich Norwich Courier 11/30/1796 – 8/16/1876 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Aurora 5/15/1839 – 9/29/1876 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Packet 11/11/1773 – 2/9/1802 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Connecticut Centinel 2/16/1802 – 10/13/1807 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Republican 10/1/1828 – 4/15/1835 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Weekly Register 11/29/1791 – 8/19/1795 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Morning Bulletin 10/16/1860 – 8/13/1887 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Native American 3/4/1812 – 6/23/1813 Newspaper Archives
Norwich True Republican 6/20/1804 – 11/5/1806 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Religious Messenger 6/11/1831 – 9/8/1832 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Canal of Intelligence 2/21/1827 – 10/28/1829 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Bulletin 1/28/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oxford Oxford Gazette 3/6/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Pilot 1/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgefield Ridgefield Press 6/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sharon Rural Gazette 6/9/1800 – 7/13/1801 Newspaper Archives
Shelton Shelton Extra 3/6/2008 – 3/17/2011 Recent Obituaries
Shelton Shelton Herald 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southbury Voices 8/2/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southington Plainville Citizen 8/27/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southington Southington Citizen 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Stamford Advocate 4/5/1829 – 9/24/1903 Newspaper Archives
Stamford Advocate 1/17/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Stamford Daily Voice 6/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stonington Impartial Journal 10/8/1799 – 3/6/1804 Newspaper Archives
Stonington Journal of the Times 10/10/1798 – 9/17/1799 Newspaper Archives
Stonington-Port Patriot 7/24/1801 – 2/11/1803 Newspaper Archives
Stratford Stratford Star 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Suffield Impartial Herald 6/14/1797 – 6/11/1799 Newspaper Archives
Torrington Register Citizen 10/25/2007 – 8/2/2009 Recent Obituaries
Trumbull Trumbull Times 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waterbury Republican-American 6/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Watertown Town Times 8/31/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Weston Weston Forum 12/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Weston-Easton Weston-Easton Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport Westport News 9/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport Westport Daily Voice 5/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willimantic Willimantic Journal 10/5/1865 – 12/13/1866 Newspaper Archives
Wilton Wilton Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wilton Wilton Bulletin 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Windham Windham Herald 3/12/1791 – 12/31/1812 Newspaper Archives
Windham Advertiser 5/7/1818 – 3/11/1819 Newspaper Archives
Windham Register 3/13/1817 – 1/1/1818 Newspaper Archives
Windham Political Visitant 5/15/1820 – 5/15/1820 Newspaper Archives

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Connecticut newspaper links will be live.

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Missouri Archives: 92 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Missouri entered the Union as the 24th state on 10 August 1821. Historically, it was the launching point for America’s westward expansion: the Oregon Trail, Pony Express, and Santa Fe Trail all started in Missouri. This historic role Missouri played as America’s portal to the West is commemorated by the famous Gateway Arch monument in St. Louis. An interesting feature of this geographically-varied state is that it is adjacent to the confluence of the nation’s three greatest rivers: the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio.

Gateway Arch St. Lois Missouri

Photo: Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri. Credit: Matt Kozlowski; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Missouri, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online Missouri newspaper archives: 92 titles to help you search your family history in “The Show Me State,” providing coverage from 1808 to Today. There are more than 10 million newspaper articles and records in our online MO archives to trace your family tree!

Dig deep into the online archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your ancestors in these recent and historical MO newspapers online. Our Missouri newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Missouri Newspaper Archives (1808 – 1949)

Search Missouri Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Missouri newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The MO newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range Collection
Ashland Boone County Journal 5/13/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Aurora Aurora Advertiser 2/26/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellefontaine Neighbors Northeast County Journal 12/22/2004 – 8/27/2008 Recent Obituaries
Belton Star Herald 12/14/2006 – 5/11/2011 Recent Obituaries
Bethany Bethany Republican-Clipper 10/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Blue Springs Blue Springs Journal 10/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Boonville Boonville Daily News 4/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bowling Green People’s Tribune 5/4/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brookfield Linn County Leader 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Byrnes Mill Meramec Journal 10/24/2004 – 12/2/2008 Recent Obituaries
California California Democrat 10/15/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camdenton Lake Sun Leader 5/23/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carthage Carthage Press 10/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chesterfield Chesterfield Journal 10/27/2004 – 3/19/2008 Recent Obituaries
Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune 4/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Farmington Farmington Press 2/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Festus Jefferson County Journal 10/24/2004 – 9/7/2011 Recent Obituaries
Festus News Democrat Journal 10/24/2004 – 11/15/2008 Recent Obituaries
Florissant, Black Jack North County Journal – Northwest Edition 11/24/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Fredericktown Democrat News 1/31/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fulton Fulton Sun 3/26/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grandview Jackson County Advocate 1/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenfield, Miller Vedette 1/13/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hannibal Missouri Courier 1/18/1849 – 12/28/1854 Newspaper Archives
Hannibal Hannibal Courier-Post 12/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Harrisonville Democrat-Missourian 2/2/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hazelwood Hazelwood-Bridgeton Journal 12/22/2004 – 3/13/2008 Recent Obituaries
Independence, Blue Springs, Grain Valley Examiner 9/18/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jefferson City Jefferson City News-Tribune 3/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Joplin Joplin Globe 1/27/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kansas City Kansas City Star 9/18/1880 – 6/10/1949 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Kansas City Times 5/1/1884 – 1/31/1896 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Rising Son 1/16/1903 – 12/28/1907 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Cosmopolita 8/22/1914 – 11/15/1919 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Northeast News 8/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kansas City Kansas City Star 1/2/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kansas City Kansas City Star, The: Blogs 9/29/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kirksville Kirksville Daily Express 8/2/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kirkwood Kirkwood-Webster Journal 10/20/2004 – 2/1/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lake Ozark Lake Today 5/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laurie West Side Star 4/13/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lebanon Lebanon Daily Record 2/6/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lee’s Summit Lee’s Summit Journal 2/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Macon Macon Chronicle-Herald 1/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Maryville Maryville Daily Forum 1/20/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mexico Mexico Ledger 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moberly Moberly Monitor-Index and Democrat 3/27/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monett Monett Times 3/24/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Neosho Neosho Daily News 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Noel, Lanagan McDonald County Press 11/12/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
O’Fallon O’Fallon Journal 10/20/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Oakville Oakville-Mehlville Journal 10/20/2004 – 7/25/2007 Recent Obituaries
Overland Overland-St. Ann Journal 12/22/2004 – 9/17/2008 Recent Obituaries
Park Hills Daily Journal 6/20/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Raytown Raytown Post 5/9/2007 – 3/26/2008 Recent Obituaries
Rolla Rolla Daily News 1/14/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sedalia Sedalia Times 8/31/1901 – 12/19/1903 Newspaper Archives
Sedalia Sedalia Democrat 7/1/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seymour Webster County Citizen 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Charles St. Charles Journal 2/2/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. James St. James Leader Journal 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph Saint Joseph Telegraph 4/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph St. Joseph News-Press 10/5/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis St. Louis Republic 5/31/1888 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican 3/1/1841 – 5/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis St. Louis Palladium 1/10/1903 – 10/5/1907 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Daily Commercial Bulletin 5/18/1835 – 12/31/1838 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Weekly St. Louis Pilot 1/6/1855 – 11/15/1856 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser 7/26/1808 – 9/18/1818 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis St. Louis Enquirer 3/17/1819 – 12/18/1824 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis St. Louis Clarion 12/18/1920 – 4/2/1921 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Tri-Weekly Missouri Republican 5/2/1853 – 3/23/1858 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Southwest City Journal 10/20/2004 – 12/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1/1/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Press Journal 10/20/2004 – 12/31/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis West County Journal 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis South County Journal 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis North County Journal – Overland Edition 11/24/2004 – 8/31/2011 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Southwest County Journal 10/27/2004 – 1/27/2009 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Citizen Journal 1/19/2005 – 3/11/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis South City Journal 10/27/2004 – 7/25/2007 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis St. Louis American 2/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis South Side Journal 10/27/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis North Side Journal 10/27/2004 – 4/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Tri-County Journal 10/20/2004 – 1/21/2009 Recent Obituaries
St. Peters St. Peters Journal 10/20/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
St. Robert Pulaski County Mirror 1/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Town and Country Mid-County Journal 10/20/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Warrenton Warrenton Journal 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Die Washingtoner Post 11/17/1870 – 11/14/1878 Newspaper Archives
Waynesville Daily Guide 3/25/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wentzville Wentzville Journal 10/20/2004 – 1/2/2011 Recent Obituaries

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Missouri newspaper links will be live.

Articles about Missouri Newspapers & Genealogy Research:

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Why You Should Dig Deep into the Obituary Archives

George Foster Sawyer served in the U.S. Navy and died in La Spezia, Italy, in 1852. He was a native of Burlington, Vermont.

Hmm…so where do you look for his obituary?

Since Sawyer was a native of Vermont, you’d expect to find his obituary in a Vermont or other newspaper from New England.

I did find an obituary for him in a Vermont paper, but it was brief and to the point.

Weekly Eagle 26 July 1852 Deaths

Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 26 July 1852, page 3

I was hoping to find more information about Sawyer, so I kept on looking around in the obituary archives.

Then I found another obituary for him, this one published in a New York newspaper. It gives us more of the details of his life, like the name of the ship he served on, the date it sailed—and even the fact that his ancestors served in the American Revolutionary War.

Plattsburgh Republican 24 July 1852 George Foster Sawyer

Plattsburgh Republican (Plattsburgh, New York), 24 July 1852, page 3

It turns out his obituary was picked up by newspapers up and down the coast, each giving a little bit more information than the short Vermont obituary.

Genealogy Tip: Keep digging in the obituary archives—don’t limit your search to just the hometown area of the deceased. Obituaries can be published in newspapers you would never expect, far from where your ancestor lived or died.

Articles Related to Obituaries:

How to Uncover Vital Record Clues in Old Newspapers

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post, Scott starts off searching old newspapers for clues to help him find his ancestor’s birth record—and finds so much information that he ends up filling out a new branch of his family tree!

We all know the frustration we feel when, in working on our genealogy, we can’t find an elusive—but important—vital record for one of our ancestors. I suggest that one good approach is to search for genealogical clues in the historical newspapers from your ancestor’s era.

The good news is that, at times, these clues are waiting to be found in all kinds of locations throughout the newspapers. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean, based on searches I’ve done in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Clues about the Birth of My Cousin

While I have a wealth of information on one of my first cousins twice removed, Joseph Vicha, I have been unable to find his actual birth document to verify the year he was born. So I set out to see what clues to his birth I might find in the newspapers. My first discovery was this divorce notice in an 1899 Cleveland newspaper, which provided me with two very useful genealogy clues. It seems that Mrs. Barbara Vicha was seeking a legal separation, divorce, and alimony from Joseph Vicha. This old news article not only lists their wedding date as 13 June 1896, it also notes that Barbara was seeking the return of her maiden name of Vomasta.

divorce notice for Joseph and Barbara Vicha, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 8 August 1899

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 8 August 1899, page 10

These two clues—her maiden name and their wedding date—enabled me to do a follow-up search at Ancestry.com, where I found the marriage license for their marriage—which in turn gave me the additional information of the year of his birth!

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Investigating More of My Family Tree

As is so often the case in genealogy, I then became interested in finding out more about not only Joseph, but his wife, Barbara (Vomasta) Vicha. One thing led to another and, several hours later, I had learned a substantial amount about this interesting family. It was like opening a picture window to life in the early Czech community of Cleveland, all through one family.

As I continued my genealogy research I discovered that Barbara remarried after her divorce from Joseph. Not surprisingly it was to another Czech, with the surname of Vlk. I then did a search on Barbara Vlk and found this helpful obituary in a 1936 Cleveland newspaper. It is for a man named John Vonasta [Vomasta], and mentions that he was the “beloved brother of Barbara Vlk.” This obituary also lists two nieces, complete with their married names: Edna Carroll and Gladys Baldy [Baldi].

obituary for John Vomasta, Plain Dealer newspaper article 9 October 1936

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 October 1936, page 23

I followed up these clues with a search of one of the City Directories for Cleveland, Ohio, dated 1891. In it I read that while the head of the household, Vaclav (later James) Vomasta, was a laborer, his son John Vomasta was listed as a cigar maker. Both were reported as living on Rock Street, which was deep in the heart of one of the largest Czech neighborhoods in Cleveland. It must have been a hardscrabble life for Vaclav since in the 1910 U.S. Census he is listed as a “(street) shovel” at the age of 65.

Discovering More Genealogy Clues…

There was another clue in John Vomasta’s obituary. Did you notice that last line? It reads: “New Haven (Conn.) papers please copy.” This was the Cleveland editors’ way of letting the New Haven editors know this obituary would be of interest to their own readers. Why would a Cleveland cigar maker’s death be of interest to readers in New Haven, Connecticut? This led me to additional searches, in which I discovered that John Vomasta was listed as a tenant in New Haven, Connecticut, in the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Censuses.

I wondered why a cigar maker might be drawn to New Haven, Connecticut—and so I did a bit of searching on the cigar industry there. GenealogyBank’s newspapers did not disappoint me as there were literally hundreds of search results on this topic. It seems that there was quite a flourishing cigar industry in New Haven in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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One example is this article from an 1899 New Haven newspaper. This article features F. D. Grave and his “Judge’s Cave” Cigar company. The occasion was the imminent move of his “well known cigar factory” to a “magnificent four-story building at Nos. 204 to 210 State Street,” and the “excellent dinner and musical entertainment” he gave for his 285 employees to celebrate the move. Could this have been where John Vomasta worked? After all, the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census returns for him list his address as 440 State Street, just up the street from F. D. Grave’s cigar factory.

article about F. D. Grave and his "Judge's Cave" cigar company, New Haven Register newspaper article 6 January 1899

New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 6 January 1899, page 7

As I continued researching this family, I discovered a variety of life’s occurrences. One of the daughters, who was once Gladys Baldi, had remarried—only to have this husband tragically die in an automobile accident slightly less than 14 months after they were married. Wanting to be complete in my genealogy research, but not expecting to find much from a marriage of less than 1 ½ years, I was interested when I found this 2001 obituary for Gladys K. Glaser in a Kansas City newspaper. This obituary provided me with the fact that, in spite of the short duration of her second marriage, their union produced a daughter, in addition to the son she had from her first marriage. I also learned that at the time of her passing she had seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, a nephew—and her sister Edna was still alive.

obituary for Gladys Glaser, Kansas City Star newspaper article 19 February 2001

Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri), 19 February 2001

With this helpful obituary providing me with Gladys’s survivors’ full names and places of residence, I now had many more clues to follow up on:

  • Sister Edna Carroll in Kelley Island, Ohio
  • Son (from Gladys’s first marriage) Bill Baldi in Shawnee, Kansas
  • Married Daughter (from Gladys’s second marriage) Bonnie Edwards in Kent, Ohio
  • Nephew Roger Carroll (Edna’s son) in Ravenna, Ohio
  • Plus those seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to track down!

Just think: I began this search looking for one simple vital statistic that I found to be elusive: the birth year for my relative Joseph Vicha—but came away with a whole new branch of our family tree growing right before me, and many more clues for additional family history research.

Now before I get back to looking for Joseph Vicha’s birth document—which is what I started off trying to find and would still like to track down—let me ask: what have been some of the best clues in historical newspapers that you have found for your genealogy and family history?

Related Genealogy Clues Articles:

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Revolutionary War Veteran’s Obituary Was Short—but Said a Lot

William Walcutt was there—a stalwart throughout the American Revolutionary War. He enlisted at Valley Forge 7 May 1778 “while yet a youth.” He was only 17 years old, having turned 17 just a month and a half earlier.

When he died at the age of 73, his one-paragraph obituary detailed his military service during the Revolutionary period.

obituary for William Walcutt, Ohio State Journal newspaper article 29 June 1833

Ohio State Journal (Columbus, Ohio), 29 June 1833, page 3

The soldier’s obituary states that he fought at the battles at Lexington and Trenton, and was later captured at the battle of Camden. It also reports the key fact that he:

…afterwards joined Morgan’s celebrated corps of grenadiers, served throughout the glorious campaign in the Southern States, and was present at the capture of Yorktown, and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

Brigadier General Daniel Morgan’s Southern campaign was one of the decisive turning points of the war, especially the Battle of Cowpens.

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According to Wikipedia:

“Morgan chose to make his stand at Cowpens, South Carolina…As the British forces approached, the Americans, with their backs turned to the British, reloaded their muskets. When the British got too close, they turned and fired at point-blank range in their faces. In less than an hour, [British Colonel Banastre] Tarleton’s 1,076 men suffered 110 killed and 830 captured. The captives included 200 wounded. Although Tarleton escaped, the Americans captured all his supplies and equipment, including the officers’ slaves. Morgan’s cunning plan at Cowpens is widely considered to be the tactical masterpiece of the war and one of the most successfully executed double envelopments of all of modern military history.”

When William Walcutt died in Columbus, Ohio, he was honored and remembered for his service in the American Revolution with an inscription telling about it on his tombstone.

photo of the tombstone of William & Anna Macy Walcutt

Photo: tombstone of William & Anna Macy Walcutt. Source: US GenWeb, Ohio.

The inscription reads:

William Walcutt of Maryland, 1761-1833. A soldier of the Revolution. Joined the Army at Valley Forge under Gen. Morgan. Participated in all the principal battles and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis.

Don’t let your Revolutionary War ancestors be forgotten. Find their stories in GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives, and preserve and pass them down in the family.

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Because GenealogyBank Is Growing, Be Sure to Search Again Later

Recently, I checked in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives for a few of my Sawyer relatives in Grafton County, New Hampshire—and didn’t find them. Bummer.

When I search in GenealogyBank and do not find my target relatives, I make a quick note to try again in a few weeks to see if I can find articles about them later.

Why?

Because GenealogyBank updates its archives and keeps adding millions of articles—in fact we update over 3,000 newspapers every day. What is not there today might be added to GenealogyBank tomorrow.

Case in point: Not finding my Sawyer family, I next decided to recheck GenealogyBank for the Schell family of North Adams, Massachusetts.

I had searched for them in the past, but found nothing.

Bang—this time I found them.

I discovered quite a few articles about H. Horton Schell’s business and fraternal association activities, several obituaries and this wedding announcement.

wedding announcement for Marion Spencer and Harlan Schell, Springfield Republican newspaper article 12 February 1935

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 12 February 1935, page 7

Great. This article gives me the details of the wedding of my cousin Harlan Horton Schell (1907-2001) along with a photograph of his wife Marion Rudman Spencer (1908-1992).

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Digging deeper, I found the obituary of her father, Albert Edmund Spencer (1876-1965). Good catch, as this gives me his middle name: “Edmund.” That’s a good clue for further searches.

obituary for Albert Spencer, Boston Herald newspaper article 5 February 1965

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 5 February 1965, page 29

Continuing to search, I found this much longer obituary with many more details about his life and family.

obituary for Albert Spencer, Springfield Union newspaper article 5 February 1965

Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts). 5 February 1965, page 7

See: http://bit.ly/1phoLVG

Genealogy Search Tip: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. GenealogyBank’s search page includes an “Added Since” feature with a drop-down menu that lets you search on content added in the past one, two or three months.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page for its newspaper archives

Good luck with your own genealogy searches!

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Genealogy: A Brief History of Obituaries & Death Notices

Newspapers have been publishing obituaries for hundreds of years, making it easy for bereaved family and friends to learn the details of the life of the deceased as well as the funeral arrangements.

GenealogyBank has put this information from the past 300 years online, allowing genealogists to find their relatives within a few clicks.

300 years?

That’s a lot of obituaries, resulting in the largest collection online.

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Have obituaries really changed much over the course of three centuries?

Yes—of course they have, and so have newspapers.

But the basic rule of thumb has always been true: famous people get long obituaries and not-so-famous people get short ones.

Back in the days before the linotype machine (invented in 1886), the type for printing each day’s newspaper was set by hand. That took time and so, realistically, newspapers were generally only four pages long.

Fewer pages meant that there had to be a balance between the length of the news articles and the number and size of the advertisements. That’s why you see old obituaries that are brief—just one line announcing that some individuals had died—with longer, more detailed obituaries about people the editor thought would be of more general interest.

For example, look at the information packed into this brief obituary:

obituary for Ephraim Crofoot, Constitution newspaper article 3 March 1852

Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), 3 March 1852, page 3

This is a short obituary, but we learn that Ephraim Crofoot died on 24 February 1852 in Middletown, Connecticut. We also learn that he was 51 years old and likely was a lawyer, as indicated by the title “Esq.” [Esquire] following his name.

Now look at these obituary examples:

various obituaries, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 28 April 1826

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 April 1826, page 3

The opening paragraph has three brief obituaries:

  • In this town, of consumption, Dr. Joseph Wheeler, aged 46
  • Mrs. Sarah Sturtevant, wife of the late Mr. Cornelius S., aged 88
  • An infant child of Mr. John Phelps

Now contrast that last brief obituary for the infant child of John Phelps with the final obituary in this column—also for an infant who had died:

In Fitzwilliam, an infant daughter of Mr. Geo. Damon. Deacon Oliver Damon and wife have lived in Fitzwilliam 42 years, and this [is] the first instance of mortality that has occurred in his family or among his descendants (25 in all) during that time. Printers in Massachusetts are requested to notice this death.

Both were infants that died. Neither obituary gave the name of the child. One obituary was so brief it only gave the name of the father, even though the child died in Keene, New Hampshire, where the newspaper was published.

The other obituary named the father as well, but also provided more details. This infant’s death was “news”—this was the first death in the family of Deacon Oliver Damon in 42 years. This was big and the editor knew his readers would want to know about it. He even inserted the line “Printers in Massachusetts are requested to notice this death,” indicating to other newspaper editors the importance of this obituary in case they wanted to run it in their own newspapers.

The New Hampshire Sentinel published on 28 April 1826 may have only been four pages long, but the editor used his judgment as to how much copy (how many lines) he would give to each story.

Obituaries can be long or short. The size of the obituary was determined by the importance of the person who had died, the story to be told, and the time the newspaper editor and reporters had to research and write about the deceased. As towns grew into cities it became common for the family itself to write the obituary, so that the newspaper would publish more information about their relatives.

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Inside the newspaper industry these user-supplied obituaries became known as “Death Notices”—articles written by the family or friends and supplied to newspapers. The articles written by the newspaper staff continued to be called “Obituaries.”

Obituary columns in newspapers have carried all types of headers: Obituaries, Deaths, Died, In Remembrance, Memorials, etc.

For genealogists and the general public, the terms Death Notice and Obituary are synonymous. Most family historians refer to all biographical articles about the recently deceased as obituaries, regardless of who wrote them or how long/short they are.

Over time newspapers came to view these family-supplied articles as paid classified advertisements, and they began charging accordingly. It is customary now for most newspapers to charge by the word count, the inclusion of photographs, and the number of insertions.

Obituaries are critical for genealogists. Long or short, they contain the information and clues we need to document our family tree.

Related Newspaper Obituary Articles:

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GenealogyBank Just Added 6 Million More Genealogy Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, rapidly expanding our content to give you the most comprehensive newspaper archives and largest obituary collection for family history research available online. We just completed adding 6 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's homepage announcing the addition of 6 million more genealogy records

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 42 newspaper titles from 19 U.S. states
  • 21 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Date Range Collection
Alabama Birmingham Birmingham Courier* 08/19/1899–09/12/1903 Newspaper Archives
Alabama Cullman Nord Alabama Colonist* 07/01/1881–07/01/1881 Newspaper Archives
Alaska Anchorage Alaska Dispatch News* 07/10/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alaska Anchorage Alaska Dispatch* 10/15/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
California Marin Sausalito Marin Scope* 09/16/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
California Novato Novato Advance* 08/26/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 01/04/1916–07/25/1935 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 12/5/1908–9/1/1927 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 4/6/1934–12/31/1937 Newspaper Archives
California San Rafael San Rafael News Pointer* 03/10/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Connecticut Stamford Stamford Advocate 4/5/1829–12/31/1841 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/1/1932–5/20/1934 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal 4/14/1871–11/15/1990 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Toccoa Toccoa Record, The* 06/24/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Idaho Boise Idaho Statesman 8/16/1931–12/31/1933 Newspaper Archives
Iowa Perry Perry Chief* 06/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Iowa Story City Story City Herald* 06/11/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 10/4/1929–12/31/1930 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans States 6/1/1920–6/1/1920 Newspaper Archives
Mississippi Biloxi Daily Herald 1/21/1937–3/27/1937 Newspaper Archives
New Jersey Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Pilot 06/22/1872–07/20/1872 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Arbeiter Zeitung* 11/28/1874–05/19/1878 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 02/04/1892–08/20/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Eco D’Italia* 01/01/1890–12/31/1896 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Fiaccola* 09/05/1912–02/10/1921 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Freiheit* 12/26/1903–12/26/1903 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Fur Worker* 09/01/1917–04/01/1931 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Progresso Italo-Americano 01/09/1886–12/27/1889 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 01/02/1915–10/29/1921 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 6/1/1928–5/31/1929 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record 5/6/1908–5/6/1908 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Cleveland Sendbote* 01/05/1927–06/26/1952 Newspaper Archives
Oregon Cannon Beach Cannon Beach Gazette* 05/02/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
Oregon Hermiston Hermiston Herald, The* 02/28/2001–Current Recent Obituaries
Oregon Seaside Seaside Signal* 03/25/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
South Dakota Aberdeen Aberdeen American 11/5/1924–11/21/1924 Newspaper Archives
South Dakota Aberdeen Aberdeen Daily News 6/29/1911–1/23/2000 Newspaper Archives
South Dakota Aberdeen Aberdeen Journal 3/3/1922–3/3/1922 Newspaper Archives
South Dakota Eureka Eureka Post* 06/06/1912–06/06/1912 Newspaper Archives
Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Daily Messenger 3/31/2006–3/31/2006 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 5/2/1935–6/29/1937 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Milwaukee Herold und Seebote* 01/01/1901–01/01/1901 Newspaper Archives

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