Newspapers can provide useful information. They publish notices of marriages, divorces, deaths, and funerals. Notices include names of the persons involved, the date of the event, and may contain maiden names, names of parents, and names of other living relatives.
Newspapers also publish articles of local interest including religious and social events in the community with the names of those involved. Some newspapers serve several communities and devote columns to the everyday happenings in the area. Newspapers also include legal notices, estate sales, and advertising for local businesses.
Newspapers are an important source of family history information for Alabama. Look for marriage and death notices, news of visiting relatives, local events, stories about the elderly , and histories (continuing in several issues). The Tombigbee-Mobile area had the earliest newspapers, including the Mobile Sentinel, Fort Stoddert, 1811; Mobile Gazette, Mobile, 1812; Halcyon, St. Stephens, 1815; and Blackall Sun and Alabama Advertiser, Blackall, 1819. The probate judge of the county was required to maintain copies of all newspapers carrying legal notices. The judges did not always comply.
The Family History Library collects indexes and abstracts of newspapers, but has not acquired original newspapers for Alabama. The Gandrud and Jones Alabama Records Collection (see Alabama Genealogy) includes many extracts of newspaper and obituary records. Most of the newspaper records from that collection have been abstracted and published in:
Gandrud, Pauline, and Myra Jones. Marriage, Death, and Legal Notices from Early Alabama Newspapers, 1819–1893. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1981. (Family History Library book 976.1 V2g.) The book is well indexed.
Three guides to help you locate Alabama newspapers are:
Martin, Paul E., comp. Alabama Newspapers Bibliography: A Working Paper. Montgomery, Alabama: Alabama Department of Archives and History, 1989. This lists newspapers by county and tells where the newspapers are available.
Newspapers on Microfilm, Samford University Library. Birmingham, Alabama: Samford University Library, 1970. (Family History Library book 976.1 A1 no.3; film 874252 item7.) This alphabetical list of newspapers shows the dates of publication and number of pages available on microfilm.
Owen, Thomas M. Alabama Newspapers and Periodicals in 1915. 1919. Reprint, Sheffield, Alabama: Jump Fast Copy, 1991. (Family History Library book 976.1 B5o.) This contains names and descriptions of newspapers and periodicals published in Alabama in 1915.
Inventory on the Internet
Over 2,000 Alabama newspapers are cataloged in:
"Alabama Newspaper Project." In Alabama Department of Archives and History [database online]. Montgomery, Alabama: ADAH, 22 February 2000 [cited 17 March 2000]. Available at:
This database briefly lists newspaper title, town, county, and life span of newspapers microfilmed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Researchers can contact them for further details and obtain microfilm copies through interlibrary loan.
$ Genealogy Bank: www.genealogybnak.com : the site has a large collection of searchable historical newspapers.
Newspapers are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
ALABAMA, [COUNTY]- NEWSPAPERS
ALABAMA, [COUNTY]- VITAL RECORDS
ALABAMA, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- NEWSPAPERS