Newspapers are important to genealogical and historical research. Genealogists often use them to look for obituaries, but there is so much more. They provide a snapshot into the lives and times of our ancestors – events that were happening that affected their lives. I’ve talked about Nineteenth Century Newspapers, Newspaper Archive, and Black Historical Newspapers in 2015, and more recently, using Newspaper.com.
Today, I’d like to highlight a digital collection of North Carolina Newspapers – The North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project. In 2009, the State Archives of North Carolina completed digitizing newspapers in their collection with dates ranging from 1751 through 1898.
Newspaper in the database are for only six North Carolina towns: Edenton, Fayetteville, Hillsborough, New Bern, Salisbury, and Wilmington. Although both the State Archives of NC and Government and Heritage Library houses microfilm for papers all over the state, the goal of this project was to digitize the earliest newspapers of the state.
There are 25 papers total in the database and 21 are solely in the 1700s. Information within the paper varies. Generally, researchers can find marriage and death notices, as well as advertisements. Many researchers overlook advertisements, but ads can tell you about industries in the area your ancestor lived. If you know where they worked, or who they worked for, ads can tell you more about the business.
In a death certificate, I found an ancestor had worked as a book keeper in his brother-in-law’s store. Looking through old papers in that town, I found an ad for his brother-in-law’s store, which helped me to learn what type of business it was. Another case in my research, I found a story about an a man I was researching (not related) was hanged for burglary. I knew from other records when he died, but didn’t realize the cause.
Come visit us at the Government and Heritage Library. In addition to using the databases that have been highlight over the past few years, we also have microfilm of many newspapers in the state.