Free Ancestry Research Records – Newspapers as Free Ancestry Research Records

As free ancestry research records, newspapers are worth their weight in gold. Besides making for interesting historical reading, they can reveal a wealth of genealogical data. These amazing free ancestry records can help you to paint a picture of your ancestors’ lives, putting them into a social context that is both entertaining and informative. Vital events, important achievements and even criminal acts can be uncovered through browsing old newspapers. Let’s look at the ways that contemporary newspapers can serve as free ancestry research records.

Newspapers – The Genuine Article of Free Ancestry Research Records

One of the best examples I could find of how newspapers can serve as free ancestry research records is the London Gazette. Some of its exciting contents of genealogical value include; military appointments and promotions, military honours recipients and medal awards, name changes, clergy and civil service records, bankruptcies and other notices. Some of the things these types of free ancestry research records can help you to do are; trace our ancestors military career, find your ancestors original name if it was changed, and follow the fortunes of old family businesses. You can also try the sister publications; the Edinburgh Gazette, and the Belfast Gazette, which can be used to search for free ancestry research records of relatives from Scotland or Northern Ireland.

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Other Free Ancestry Research Records to be Found in Newspapers

The most popular types of free ancestry research records to be found in newspapers, and used quite often by family historians, are the BDM (Birth, Death and Marriage) announcements. Initially only members of the hierarchy were included in BDM columns, but by the mid 1800’s, it had become normal to list people of a lesser social standing, though details were often vague. By the beginning of the 20th century however, details listed included the mother’s maiden name, and with former residents who died overseas, an announcement would be made in the newspaper of their former hometown.

The information you glean from these free ancestry records can be used to track down other data such as birth registrations, or baptismal entries in parish registers. Sometimes the baptism would be announced in the local paper giving the names of the parents and godparents. Marriage announcements also make useful free ancestry research records. From these reports, you can look for entries in marriage registers or even a list of guests and the gifts they gave.

Classified Ads as Free Ancestry Research Records

Classified sections and adverts can also make good free ancestry research records. You can find public information notices about businesses and business transactions as well as announcements about entertainment and events your ancestors may have been involved with. If your relative was a performing artist or other type of entertainer, you might be able to find a name or place of residence for them.

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Newspaper Obituaries and Death Notices in Newspapers

Death notices vary in their length and the amount of detail they contain, it depends on the social standing of the deceased. But these free ancestry research records can cast illumination as to where your relative was buried, and subsequently you can search cemetery records for further data.

If your ancestor wasn’t wealthy or well known, chances are you won’t find anything about them in national papers. Generally speaking; the more local the publication, the better your chances of finding information about them.

You can browse some of these free ancestry research records right here at We have a full catalogue of links to US Newspaper Obituaries, from Alabama to Wyoming. There is also a link to Old Newspaper Obituaries Archives, and don’t forget to check out our listing of 40+ websites of free ancestry research records.

Familiarizing yourself with the free ancestry research records to be found in newspapers can take some time. But as you become proficient at following up the leads generated by them, you’ll become a much more proficient researcher, and understand the true value of newspapers as free ancestry research records.

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