One of our genealogists discusses how newspapers worldwide can connect family lines and associate ancestors with particular places, especially when vital records are not available.
Newspapers! Газети! A window to the Past
Newspapers can be invaluable in proving family connections in periods when birth and death records might not exist. They can also show relationships between two different places. And most importantly, newspapers are found throughout the world.
Those with roots in the Russian Empire might not think of newspapers as a source for research. Often, the focus is locating metrical records (births, marriages, and deaths) of their ancestors. However, in this digital era, more newspapers are being scanned and placed online daily, including those published in our ancestral homeland. Libraries and repositories worldwide recognize that older newspapers, which were made from poor paper and are already rapidly disintegrating, need to be preserved for their cultural and historical value
Imperial Russian Successor States
Today, the vast territory formerly known as the Russian Empire is home to several modern successor states. A variety of these countries’ national libraries and other organizations offer significant digital content collections for previously unknown historical periodicals. In this article, we highlight collections in Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine, four of the fifteen modern countries that once made up the old Russian Empire.
National Digital Library of Latvia
The National Digital Library of Latvia [Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka] has a collection of hundreds of Latvian periodicals published mainly during the first half of the twentieth century. The site maintains a robust search engine, which allows the user to filter results by language, author, title, period, and more.
Lithuania’s ePaveldas (Virtual Electronic Heritage System)
The digital portal for Lithuanian Cultural Heritage in the Virtual Environment, more commonly known as ePaveldas, maintains a collection of more than two thousand periodicals, almost all published in Lithuania in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Russian Historical Society
A wonderful collection of newspapers for the period of 1914–1922 hosted by the Russian Historical Society [Российское историческое общество] offers a cache of publications with details of the world war’s impact on daily lives as well as the details of the Russian revolutionary period. The collection Newspapers of the period of the First World War and the Civil War 1914–1922 [ГАЗЕТЫ ПЕРИОДА ПЕРВОЙ МИРОВОЙ И ГРАЖДАНСКОЙ ВОЙН 1914-1922] is not accessible via a search engine. Still, users can browse publications by title and location.
Russian State Public Historical Library
The Russian State Public Historical library [Государственная публичная историческая библиотека] offers a variety of historical periodicals including newspapers, magazines, and selected digital articles. More than 220 newspaper publications are digitized, including a subset of 167 newspapers from the Russian emigrant community [Коллекция газет русского зарубежья ГПИБ]
Some titles include:
- Бессарабия (Bessarabia): Chisinau, Moldova
- Новый мир (Nuevo Mundo): Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Новий шлях (New Pathway): West Saskatoon, Canada
- Рабочая жизнь (Worker’s life): Brisbane, Australia
LIBRARIA. Ukrainian Online Periodicals Archive
Hosted by the Ukrainian group Archival Information Systems (AIS), the electronic archive LIBRARIA [Архів української періодики онлайн] holds more than 400 digitized Ukrainian periodicals (including newspapers), published in the Ukrainian, Polish, German, Yiddish, Crimean Tatar, and Russian languages, from various regions of Ukraine, mainly in the 1920s and 1940s.
All users can take advantage of the search engine to identify issues of interest through keyword or title searches. However, full digital access is limited to fifty-two Ukrainian libraries. In April 2020, Libraria removed restrictions, and all users can view digitized material found in the open-access search engine.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Researching Historical Newspapers
Why You Should Never Neglect the Newspapers