Newspapers publish marriage, divorce, death, and funeral notices, and obituaries. Notices include names, dates, and places. Marriage and death notices may contain maiden names and names of parents and other living relatives.
Newspapers also publish articles of local interest that often cover religious and social events in the community and include the names of people 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.
One strategy for using newspapers in research, is to select a time period for which your ancestor lived and begin by looking for obituaries as well as birth, marriage, and death notices. Read all the articles which were generated in the county where your ancestor lived, especially articles which give information about the church and schools where your ancestor may have attended.
Newspapers publish notices of marriage, divorce, death, funerals, obituaries, and wartime casualty lists. Notices include names of the persons involved, the date of the event, and may contain maiden names, names of parents, and other relatives.
Newspapers also publish articles of local interest, including religious and social events, with the names of those involved. Some newspapers devote columns to the everyday happenings in the area. Newspapers also include legal notices, estate sales, and advertising for local businesses.
The first newspapers in Minnesota were published in 1849. The best collection of Minnesota newspapers is at the Minnesota Historical Society Library, which attempts to collect and microfilm all Minnesota newspapers. Many of these records may be loaned to other libraries. Some of the library’s 4,000 different newspapers are especially valuable because they are published by ethnic and religious groups.
Resources for Minnesota Newspapers
Over 4,287 Minnesota newspaper titles containing 4.1 million pages on microfilm are cataloged in the Minnesota Newspaper Project. You can learn what newspapers were published in any Minnesota city on the MnPals Internet site described in Minnesota Archives and Libraries. The Internet address to identify newspapers is:
Newspapers Listed in the PALS Online Catalog. In Minnesota Historical Society [Internet site]. St. Paul, Minnesota: MHS, 1998 [cited 12 January 2000]. Available at: http://collections.mnhs.org/newspapers/arsearch.html. Describes over three million issues of over 5,000 newspapers published in Minnesota since 1849. Microfilm copies of newspapers can be requested through interlibrary loan.
Online newspaper searches are available at:
"AskRon Newspaper Database" In Minnesota Historical Society [Internet site]. St. Paul, Minnesota: MHS, 1998 [cited 12 January 2000]. Available at:
You can search on a keyword, newspaper title, state, Minnesota county, or range of dates. For more information, call 651-296-2143.
Libraries and Archives
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.
For a listing of newspapers at the Minnesota Historical Society Library see:
- Minnesota Historical Society Holdings of Newspapers on Master Negative Microfilm: February 1987. St. Paul, Minnesota: MHS, 1987. (Family History Library film 1490151.) The films do not circulate to Family History Centers. Newspapers are listed alphabetically by town or city, name of newspaper, beginning and ending dates, number or microfilm rolls, and whether it is available for purchase. Other states and countries are listed at the end.
Digital Issues Online
- NewspaperArchive ($) has a some digitized Minnesota newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries. It may be under the name Access NewspaperArchive.
- Chronicling America has some historical issues for the state of Minnesota online.
To search a statewide database of newspaper articles see the Dalby Database.
Family History Library
The Family History Library acquires obituaries, indexes, and other newspaper abstracts. A guide to early Minnesota newspapers is:
- Hage, George Sigrud. Newspapers on the Minnesota Frontier, 1849–1860. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society, 1967. (Family History Library book 977.6 B3m.) This book contains a historical study and list of newspapers from 1849 to 1860, when the telegraph reached Minnesota.
To find newspapers check the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- MINNESOTA – NEWSPAPERS
- MINNESOTA, [COUNTY] – NEWSPAPERS
- MINNESOTA, [COUNTY], [TOWN] – NEWSPAPERS