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The question then becomes how do you find old copies of a small-town newspaper? Oddly enough, many of them are now on the web. Here are some suggestions to help get you started:

• Try a Google search for the name of the newspaper in the town where your ancestor lived. This is always a good place to start.

• Try search terms that combine the surname of your ancestor with the name of the local newspaper.

Genealogy Search Enginecan be useful for searching old newspapers. It indexes some major newspaper collections, such as the US Library of Congress' Chronicling America collection and the Australian government’s Trove collection. It also indexes dozens of small newspaper collections held by universities and colleges. Finally, it is the only ancestral search engine that covers the massive Google Newspaper Archive.

• Another possible source is the local library near where your ancestor lived. Local libraries often carry microfilm copies of local newspapers going back decades.

Small-town newspapers offer a wealth of information for genealogists. They generally provide more relevant content and better context than big-city newspapers. They are also more likely to detail local history and events that may have influenced your ancestors. Searching small-town newspapers should definitely be near the top of any genealogist’s to-do list when tracing ancestors from small towns.

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