Maryland Newspapers

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Time period, coverage & content of Maryland newspapers

Newspaper publication in Maryland began in 1727 with the release of the Maryland Gazette in Annapolis. Newspapers may focus on the world or a tiny community, and may serve a general audience or a particular ethnic, religious, racial, or political group. Newspapers report family information within notices of births, marriages, and deaths (obituaries), and local news. They may include the following information:

  • Birth announcements may contain the infant's name, birth date, and parents' names, as well as the religion of the family.
  • Wedding announcements may contain the wedding date and place; the names of the bride, groom, bride's parents, and groom's parents; and the religion of the family.
  • Death notices and obituaries may contain the name and place of residence of close family and friends of the decedent, as well as the decedent's death date and place, birth date and place, and biographical information, such as occupation, military service, religion, schools attended, parents' names, places of residence over time, and place of origin.
  • News stories, legal notices and advertisements may contain nearly any information imaginable, including political or criminal activity, legal and domestic disputes, real estate transactions, business information, social contacts, military service, missing persons (including runaway slaves), or information about local disasters, epidemics, or other community milestones which affected the local population. 

Why use newspapers?

  • Newspapers usually predate government birth, marriage, and death records.
  • Newspapers may serve as a substitute for civil records that were destroyed.
  • Unlike most government records, newspaper articles are not limited to a form. Thus, newspapers may contain details not found in more structured records.
  • Newspapers can report marriages, deaths or accomplishments of people who no longer live in the area but who still have friends or family there.
  • Newspapers may report events in the life of local inhabitants even when these events occurred elsewhere.

Before searching newspapers, know this

  • The name of the person you are looking for (including, if possible, maiden and married names of women).
  • The place and an approximate date of an event.

Where to get Maryland newspapers

Your local library and interlibrary loan

Although your local library may not have a newspaper collection for the place where your ancestor lived, you may still access newspapers from distant libraries there. Many historical newspapers have been microfilmed. Local libraries often have a service called Interlibrary loan by which they can order microfilm copies of old newspapers from other libraries for a reasonable fee usually paid by the patron. Telephone your local librarian to learn which newspapers covered your ancestor's area and time period. Also ask which libraries in your area offer interlibrary loan services and what the fees are.

Web sites

Since digitizing and storing thousands of images of newspaper pages on the Web is expensive, free online collections of digitized historical newspapers are rare. However, modern day newspapers are increasingly found for free online. 

Historical newspapers online
Current newspapers online

Best on-site library collections

The following libraries have strong Maryland newspaper collections on site.

Guides finding Maryland newspapers

Hofstetter, Eleanore O. and Marcella S. Eustis. Newspapers in Maryland Libraries: A Union List. Baltimore, Maryland: Division of Library Development Services, Maryland State Department of Education, 1977. (ISBN: none) (OCLC 3160087) (FHL Book 975.2 B33h; fiche 6046965)

White, Les, et al. Newspapers in Maryland: A Guide to the Microfilm Collection of Newspapers at the Maryland State Archives. Annapolis, Maryland: Maryland State Archives, 1990. (ISBN: none) (OCLC 199061222353017923140665) (FHL book 975.2 B33s)

Indexes to marriage notices and obituaries in MD newspapers

Barnes, Robert W. Gleanings from Maryland Newspapers. Four Volumes. Lutherville, Maryland: Bettie Carothers, 1975-76. (ISBN: none) (OCLC 8196057) (FHL book 975.2 V2ba v. 2; film 928166 item 7) This work covers 1727 to 1795.

Barnes, Robert W. Marriages and Deaths from the Maryland Gazette, 1727-1839. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1973. (ISBN 0806305800) (OCLC 28916982) (FHL book 975.2 V2b)

Green, Karen Mauer. The Maryland Gazette, 1727- 1761: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts. Galveston, Texas: Frontier, 1989. (ISBN 0932231071) (FHL book 975.2 D2g)

Maryland newspapers at the Family History Library

To locate newspapers in the Family History Library's collection which pertain to a large part of Maryland, click here. The Family History Library is not actively collecting newspapers of the United States.[1]

How to search newspapers

  • Check newspapers from a week or two before or after a wedding, funeral, or wedding anniversary to find mention of out-of-town visitors and relatives.


  • You may find it helpful to place a notice in a local newspaper in order to contact others who may have information about your family.
  • Search all newspapers for your ancestor's area, particularly those focusing on your ancestor's ethnicity. Ethnic papers "care" about ancestors that mainstream papers ignore.[2]
  • Don't ignore an ethnic newspaper that was published far from your ancestor, even hundreds of miles away. These papers often have a widely-circulated readership, so they tend to focus on a much wider area. For example, articles about ancestors from Illinois, Kansas, and Nebraska can be found in an ethnic newspaper published in Iowa.[3]

Milestone in newspaper content: the mid-1800s

Early American newspapers were generally only a few pages and focused on international rather than local events. However, the combination of the telegraph, the railroad, the power printing press, and public hunger for news during the Civil War changed American newspapers permanently during the mid-1800s. They increased the news gathering, production, and distribution capacity of big-city papers such that these papers took over the reporting of international, national, and state news. This changed the focus of small-town papers to local events and ordinary people.[4]

See also


  1. Telephone interview of Ken Nelson by Michael Ritchey. Salt Lake City, 8 December 2008. Ken is a member of the Family History Library's Collection Management team. He said that although the library would not turn down a free microfilm of a U.S. newspaper, newspaper collections are not currently part of the acquisition profile for U.S. places, and haven't been for some years.
  2. Neil, Michael John. "Ethnic Newspapers." Internet article at Orem, Utah:, 2 June 2006.
  3. Neil, Michael John. "Ethnic Newspapers." Internet article at Orem, Utah:, 2 June 2006.
  4. Hansen, James L. "Newspapers." The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Rev. Ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, Eds. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1997. 413, 414.