3 Newspaper Search Mistakes We All Make: #2 Where Did I Find That?

Introduction: In this article – the second in a series of three – Gena Philibert-Ortega gives tips for searching newspapers by creating complete source citations each time you find a relevant newspaper article. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.”

Did you inherit any family history research? For those of us who have, one of the items in the stacks of paper records may be one or more yellowed newspaper articles, usually an obituary, that is tightly cropped and lacks a date or newspaper title and place. Those newspaper obituaries answer some genealogical questions but they lack something crucial: a source citation.

Illustration: a woman using a computer

In my last article on 3 Newspaper Search Mistakes, I introduced you to the first search mistake: not checking back. The second mistake I want to highlight is a regret I hear from most seasoned genealogical researchers.

Cite Your Sources!

I love newspaper research and I know you do too. There’s nothing like finding something new, or that one newspaper article that backs up the family story. But without a source citation, those who are interested in our collective family history won’t be able to find the article, nor will you in the future.

First, what’s a source citation? It’s simply a notation of where you found something. A lack of a source citation means you won’t be able to figure out where it came from in the future. Even if you have a source citation – but it’s incomplete – can still be problematic. Simply noting that you found a newspaper article in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives doesn’t help you quickly find that article again sometime in the future.

Once you find that newspaper article, it’s important to note you found it on GenealogyBank – but there’s more to a newspaper article source citation. When we think of newspapers, we want to note things like: the newspaper title, the article title, the date, and the location of the article within the newspaper. Depending on what source citation style you prefer, the way you cite a newspaper article will differ. This article isn’t suggesting one source citation style over another. Instead, we will focus on where to find the information you need to complete your source citation.

Information about That Newspaper Article

No matter what source citation system you use, you can find the information for the newspaper article source citation from the GenealogyBank website. There are two places that include the information you will need. One such place is at the top of the Search Result page.

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's Result Page showing source citation on top

From the Search Result page, notice that at the top of the screen you will find:

  • Article Title (in some cases)
  • Newspaper Title
  • Date
  • Newspaper Location
  • Volume
  • Page

The other place you can find source information is to click on the horizontal lines at the top left of the Search Result page, next to the word “Pages.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's Result Page showing source citation on left

This drop-down menu will provide you links to each one of the newspaper’s pages, and at the very bottom is a blue button that reads “Copy Citation to Clipboard.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's Result Page showing the "Copy Citation to Clipboard" feature

Under that blue button you will find a source citation that includes the:

  • Newspaper Title
  • Newspaper Location
  • Date
  • Page
  • GenealogyBank URL
  • Date Article Was Accessed

Use this information to create a source citation. If you’re using an online tree or a genealogy software program, their source citation template will prompt you what information to include.

I KNOW Where I Found That!

Don’t end a research session with the biggest lie researchers tell themselves: “I’ll write that down later” or “I can find that again.” As soon as you find a relevant newspaper article, document where you found the article in your Research Log, genealogy software, online, or wherever you keep track of your genealogy research information. Write down where you found that article now. GenealogyBank helps you to cite your source so that you and others can find it again.

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