Tips from the Pros: Check Newspapers for Immigrant Origins, from Loretto Szucs

Search local and ethnic newspapers for information about your immigrant ancestors. Obituaries and other notices pertaining to life events (birth, marriage, anniversary, etc.) frequently list the town or county of origin for immigrants. You may also find lists of new arrivals, immigrants who were treated in a local hospital, lists of arriving indentured servants or apprentices, queries about missing relatives or friends, and notices of probates of estates–all of which may include clues to the immigrant’s origins. And don’t just look for direct line ancestors. While your ancestor’s obituary may not list that town of origin, the death notice of a sibling or cousin could be just what you’re looking for.

Check for newspapers in online collections like those at Ancestry. Inquire at local and ethnic libraries and genealogical/historical societies as they may have or know of collections, indexes, or compilations. State libraries and archives are another good place to check.

3 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Check Newspapers for Immigrant Origins, from Loretto Szucs

  1. Do you know if there are ledgers of travelers on the Ohio River (1800-1803) that would list names? My ancestors may have traveled the river to get to Ohio during the above mentioned timeframe; from Maryland to Cincinnatti. I thought maybe there would have been ledgers available to keep track of them also. Thanks, Jo Ellen

  2. This suggestion is on the money. Do not forget to ask about church registers, however, especially if your family lived in a small town. I found the Luthern church my paternal great-grandparents attended after their arrival from Germany. This particular church still had the register kept by tits ministers from its founding in the 1870’s to mid-1930’s (in German, which I was able to have translated). I found the death and burial information for my great-grandmother’s brother, which had the village and county of his birth in Germany. Also check newspaper obituaries in the local newspaper of siblings or other family members of the person your lokking for. I found the obituary of a great-uncle in the local paper of the town his sister was living in at the time of his death.

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