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.
By 1900, 10 daily papers, 80 weekly papers, and 12 monthly newspapers were being published in the Oklahoma Territory. Several more were published in the Indian Territory.
Resources for Oklahoma Newspapers
A helpful guide to locating early newspapers is Grace Ray's, Early Oklahoma Newspapers: History and Description of Publications from Earliest Beginnings to 1889. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1928. (Worldcat)
Libraries and Archives
The Oklahoma Historical Society has over 4,000 newspaper titles on microfilm. See their website at Oklahoma Historical Society Newspaper Collection for more information.
Locating Oklahoma Newspapers
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.
The Oklahoma Historical Society has a large collection of newspapers. They are indexing obituaries, marriage notices, and many other items on their Internet site, www.okhistory.org/research. For a guide to their holdings, consult:
- John Stewart and Kenny Franks, State Records, Manuscripts, and Newspapers at the Oklahoma State Archives and Oklahoma Historical Society. (Worldcat)
The Family History Library does not have copies of Oklahoma newspapers, but it does have some abstracts of vital statistics published in newspapers. Genealogical and historical periodicals such as Chronicles of Oklahoma see Oklahoma Periodicals have published obituaries and lists of newspapers that have been preserved on microfilm.
Digital Issues Online
NewspaperArchive.com ($) has a collection of digitized Oklahoma newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries under the name Access NewspaperArchive.
Chronicling America has some historical issues for the state of Oklahoma online.