Newspapers Reveal Towns And Ancestors’ Past

The hometown newspaper offers valuable and unique insight into the life of a community.  Within its pages, the story of the town and its citizens is revealed.  The citizens are our ancestors.

Details of an ancestor’s life are often found only in the newspaper.  Besides obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, peruse the gossip columns, society and lodge news, letters to the editor, legal notices and sports page.

Small towns and weekly newspapers are often the best.  They contain more personal local news and less state and national.  This is great for the genealogist.

Newspapers are also an excellent source for local history.  Sometimes, they are the only source.  Editors tend to have “their ear to the ground” and know what is happening.  Their articles on local events, politics and news may be the only record available or maybe the articles will suggest avenues for further research.

The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) maintains the largest collection of Oklahoma newspapers.  The collection is not only the largest but also the most complete collection in the state.  It is estimated that they own over 90% of all newspapers published in Oklahoma.  The collection consists of over 4,000 different newspapers.  The newspapers are on 35,000 rolls of microfilm.

To learn if the society owns a particular newspaper consult the newspaper database found on the society’s web site —http://www.okhistory.org/research/collections/newspapers.html.

In 1998 a paper listing of the collection was published.  Titled Index of Oklahoma Newspapers, the newspapers are alphabetized by title and by county.  The Family History Room at the Lawton Public Library owns a copy of this index.  These newspapers are not available through interlibrary loan.

Copies of articles from the newspaper collection are available.  The fee is $10 for Oklahoma residents.  OHS members receive a 10% discount of copy costs.  To order, the “Newspaper Order Form” must be completed and submitted.  Download the form at www.okhistory.org/research/forms/newspaperform.html.

(This information was taken from Paul Follett’s column Tree Tracers published in the Lawton Constitution on May 19, 2008.)

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