Using Newspapers for Family History
Newspapers in rural areas of Utah can contain information not found in other records. They specialize in items of local interest, balanced with regional, state, and national news. Unique information may include:
- Legal notices from nearby towns and neighboring counties.
- Social colums from the town and surrounding areas
- Advertising of the time that are insightful, and may include a business your relatives owned.
- In "slow news" days, a newspaper may include "filler," such as stories, jokes, and sometimes names of hotel guests or people arriving on the stage coach.
See content of U.S. newspapers for an overview of what you may learn about a person or place.
The History of Newspapers in Utah
Newspapers report family information in notices of births, marriages, obituaries, and local news. Newspapers began early in Salt Lake City, Utah. Two major Utah newspapers are the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune.
The place to start searches of historical Utah newspapers is at Utah Digital Newspapers.
The Deseret News was the first newspaper published in Utah. The first edition was printed in June 1850 in Salt Lake City. Their address is:
- Deseret News
30 East 100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84110
Internet: Deseret News
For other editions, individuals are encouraged to use the films at the Family History Library or at a public library. The Family History Library has a complete collection of the Deseret News to 1961.
The Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also has an up-to-date collection. The Deseret News was published under different names. They are:
- Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). 1850–1898. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1957. (Family History Library films 26586–614.) Published weekly.
- Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). 1866–1905. Salt Lake City, Utah: Office of the Church Historian, 1960–1961. (Family History Library films 241150-81.) Published semi-weekly.
- Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 1867–1961. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1955–1961. (On 437 Family History Library films beginning with 26899.) Copies of the Church News are included. Published daily.
Abstracts of Deaths and Marriages Notices in the Deseret News Weekly of Salt Lake City, Utah (1852-1888)
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune began printing in 1871. The Salt Lake Tribune Data Center has microfilm copies from 1871 to the present. They also have an index by name and subject from 1941 to 1991. You can request a search of their files for a fee. Their address is:
- Salt Lake Tribune
143 South Main Street, Mezzanine
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Internet: Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune can be searched from 1871 to 1899 online here. The issues from September 1991 to the present are also online.
The Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has copies of the newspaper from 1871 to the present time. These are indexed by name and subject. The Family History Library has films for just the first two years of publication. They are in:
- Salt Lake Daily Tribune and Utah Mining Gazette. Volumes 1–3. Salt Lake City, Utah: Office of the Church Historian, 1961. (Family History Library films 241182–85.)
The Salt Lake Public Library has microfilm of The Salt Lake Tribune Apr 15, 1871 to present.
Books on Utah Newspapers
For histories on publishing newspapers and listings of Utah newspapers see:
- Alter, J. Cecil. Early Utah Journalism. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1938. (Family History Library book 979.2 B3a.) This book lists the newspapers by town and then chronologically. It includes some history of the newspapers and dates published to about 1938. It is indexed by names, newspapers, and subjects. It focuses on the conflict between the differing political parties.
- Utah's Newspapers, Traces of Her Past. Salt Lake City, Utah: Marriott Library, University of Utah, 1984. (Family History Library book 979.2 B33h.) This source is taken from papers presented at the Utah Newspaper Project Conference at the University of Utah in 1983. It contains a list of the Utah newspapers.
Resources for Utah Newspapers
Libraries and Archives
The J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, and the Utah State Historical Society Library all have collections of Utah newspapers. The Utah State Historical Society Library has a newspaper clip file collected from the 1950s to 1995 with articles about Utah people. The Harold B. Lee Library has an index to early Utah newspapers.
The FamilySearch Library has other newspapers from some Utah cities and counties. Search the FamilySearch Catalog by place for: UTAH, [COUNTY], [TOWN] and select 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.
Repositories for newspapers can include state and local libraries, historical societies and museums. Visit the websites for possible repositories and contact the organizations and ask about newspaper collections. For newspapers still in publication, contact their office.
Digital Issues Online
- Mountain West Digital Library "The Mountain West Digital Library is an aggregation of digital collections from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, and historical societies in Utah, Nevada, and Idaho. Hosting institutions each run servers supporting their own digital collections and support partner institutions by providing scanning and hosting services. The Mountain West defines the region of contributors, but the content extends beyond the Mountain West and into different field
- Digital Newspapers -- the University of Utah's Digital Newspaper Collection with more than 600,000 pages of digitized Utah historical newspapers.
- NewspaperArchive.com ($) has a collection of digitized Utah newspapers with more than 1.6 million pages online. This database is sometimes free at libraries. It may be under the name Access NewspaperArchive.
|If the image quality is poor for a newspaper page, searches for names and keywords will not be accurate nor complete. Suggestions: Look for microfilmed copies of the newspaper. Better yet, find an original copy of the newspaper if possible.|
- Digital Collections at the University of Utah
- Chronicling America
- Deseret News
- Salt Lake Tribune
- J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah
- Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University
- Utah State History