Every week I try to share libraries, archives, or collections I have found useful to Western States researchers, and some of the things I have discovered within them.
This week I want to highlight the digital historic newspaper archives available for Utah and Colorado. Family historians know newspapers are a valuable resource.
They are especially valuable in the western states because newspapers were established fairly early when communities were formed. State and federal government offices were not very accessible to the remote settlements and sparsely settled states, and until the middle of the 19th century most of the west was under the jurisdiction of a territorial government. Newspapers were much more likely to provide clues to early western settler’s lives than official government records before 1900.
Here are three tips for using newspapers in family history research:
1. Look for more than births, marriages, and deaths in newspapers. Check out every “hit” the search finds and add these events to a timeline for an individual. The other events in a person’s life can reveal vital clues as to family relationships, property they owned, and places they lived or did business.
2. Search every newspaper within a 60 mile radius of a person’s home. Vital events were sometimes reported in more than one newspaper.
3. When looking for an obituary, include newspapers in the towns of a person’s grown children and siblings.
Utah Digital Newspaper Archive
The Utah Digital Newspaper Archive (UDN) can be found at http://digitalnewspapers.org/ and is one of the best online newspaper resources in the United States. According to the website “UDN is built upon a distributed state-wide collection of newspapers that is aggregated into a single, searchable index hosted at the U of U. We partner with Brigham Young University, Utah State University, and Salt Lake Community College to accomplish this, each hosting a portion of the content.”
It is easy to use and can be searched by individual newspaper title or by the entire collection. It is also browseable by title, which is helpful if you want to get a feel for community life during a particular time. I especially like the “Browse by County” feature, as it is helpful to see which newspapers existed for a geographic region, and the “Paper Timeline” is a handy graph to help you locate a newspaper by time period. The advanced search feature allows for all kinds of creativity in searching for an elusive ancestor. Here is an obituary I found for Alexander Matheson in Parowan, Utah: http://tinyurl.com/78mw2yz
Colorado Historic Newspapers Collections
According to the website, “The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) currently includes more than 500,000 digitized pages, representing 163 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. Due to copyright restrictions, CHNC does not generally include newspapers published after 1923.” The CHNC is not as easy to search as the UDN site, but it is still a great resource which dates back even before Colorado’s territorial history began in 1861.
I found out that J.B. Tanner (likely Joseph Baldwin Tanner) won several awards for horse breeds at the Montezuma, Colorado County Fair in October 1907. This helps to place him in the area at that time. Here is a link to the article: http://tinyurl.com/7plgcbu We also learn about his purchase of a new trading post in this article: http://tinyurl.com/7plgcbu
2 thoughts on “Friday Finds: Digital newspaper archives for Utah and Colorado”
Your post was quite timely for me, as I move my research to Colorado and find other collections quite inaccessible right now. Just in these few minutes since reading your post, I’ve found some nice tidbits on the line I’m researching. Thanks for covering this area!
So glad it was helpful. If you are researching Colorado then you might also want to check out these great links for Colorado online databases, if you haven’t already: http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/geneal.htm and http://history.denverlibrary.org/
I was actually going to highlight the Denver Public Library Western History and Genealogy online collection in the next week or two.
Good luck to you! —-Dayna