Newspapers provide valuable information for family historians. They publish notices of marriage, divorce, death, funerals, obituaries, and probate matters. Since about 1880 they may also publish birth notices. Notices include the names of the persons involved, dates, and places. Marriage and death notices may contain maiden names, names of parents, and names of other living relatives. Legal notices, such as the settlement of estates, appointment of guardians, filing for divorce, coroner inquests, delinquent tax lists, and other legal advertising, can be of great help, especially when a fire destroyed the records in the courthouse.
Newspapers also include local and national news, advertisements for commodities, and advertisements for services. All of this material can help to add substance to a family history.
Resources for Indiana Newspapers
Libraries and Archives
The Indiana Division of the Indiana State Library has the state’s largest newspaper collection. They have many newspapers on microfilm and an index of names and obituaries in Indianapolis newspapers since 1898. Their newspaper microfilms are available through inter-library loan. For a county-by-county inventory of their 16,500 reels of Indiana newspaper microfilms, see their Indiana Collection
The U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present is a national directory from the Library of Congress of over 140,000 newspaper titles. The directory provides a list of libraries from around the country that have the newspapers in their collections.
A guide for locating newspapers published from 1804 to 1980 is:
Miller, John W. Indiana Newspaper Bibliography: Historical Accounts of All Indiana Newspapers Published from 1804 to 1980 and Locational Information for All Available Copies, Both Original and Manuscript. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1982. (Family History Library book 977.2 B32m; film 2055588 item 5; fiche 6087603.) The newspapers are listed by county and then by town. The history of the newspaper is given along with the names of the repositories or libraries that keep original or microfilm copies. There is also an index to the towns, editors, and publishers.
To identify microfilms you can order on interlibrary loan through your local public library, see United States Newspapers for Newspapers in Microform: United States, 1948–1983. This includes newspapers published from the early 1700s to 1983.
For a list of newspaper indexes, see:
"Indexes and Abstracts of Indiana Newspapers at Indiana State Library." The Hoosier Genealogist 36, no.1 (March 1996): 1-28. (Family History Library book 977.2 B2h.) This lists 229 indexes or abstracts by county, then by the name of the newspaper. Shows Indiana State Library call numbers, authors, titles, a brief description of what is indexed or abstracted, years covered, and citations to the original source.
In the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog, you will find newspapers listed under:
INDIANA, [COUNTY]- NEWSPAPERS
INDIANA, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- NEWSPAPERS
Digital Issues Online
- NewspaperArchive.com ($) has a large collection of Indiana newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries under the name AccessNewspaperArchive.
- There is a large collection of Indiana newspapers digitized, indexed and online at Ancestry.com ($)which is a subscription website that may be available at your local public or academic library.
- The New Albany newspaper index covers the years 1848-1855 for Logansport. The Logansport Journal/Logansport Weekly Journal and the Logansport Democratic Pharos are included.
- The Indiana State Library has an online Vincennes newspaper index covering the years 1804-1827, and includes the earliest newspapers published in the state of Indiana: Indiana Gazette (1804-1806) and Western Sun (1807-1827).
- Hendricks County Obituary Database and Card File Online from the Plainfield Public Library. The index includes Plainfield and Hendricks County obituaries which were gleaned from the Plainfield and Hendricks County newspapers in the library's collection. The newspaper collection spans from 1866-current.
- The Vigo County Library has online indexes to obituaries published in Terre Haute newspapers from 1900-2007. Coverage is most complete for Vigo County, but does include obituaries from the surrounding Wabash Valley Counties.