Tips for Newspaper Searching

Older newspapers often used the hyphen due to the limitations of fixed-width type, narrow columns, and to save space. According to the March 6, 2024 blog post from The Ancestor Hunt, “if you don’t search for the hyphenated words, you could lose up to 30% of the potential results.”

If your ancestor’s name contains multiple syllables perform searches for each syllable of their name, both first name and surname. Consider that the break may occur in various places within the name. For example, if I were searching for the Harrington surname I would also try: “Harr”, “Harring”, “rington” and “ton”, as separate search criteria. It is not necessary to include the hyphen on the beginning portion of the hyphenated name unless it would produce too many irrelevant results by omitting it. For example, when looking for the Harrington surname it would be better to use “Harr-”  to exclude instances of Harry.

Another idea is to limit your search to a street name or, if available, address. Maybe your ancestor is mentioned in an obituary, newspaper, or advertisement that you missed when looking for them by name.

Happy Browsing!
Submitted by Robin McCarthy


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