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Q: Bibliographic mentions of family names. ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Bibliographic mentions of family names.
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: lavergne-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 05 Sep 2003 12:52 PDT
Expires: 05 Oct 2003 12:52 PDT
Question ID: 252675
On what sites or databases, free or pay, can I find mentions in
newspapers, magazines, books, etc. of any given surname throughout
American history and then go to which places on the internet to read
the article or etc. within which the name is mentioned?  I'm not
looking for particular families or commonly known historical figures.
Subject: Re: Bibliographic mentions of family names.
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 05 Sep 2003 15:41 PDT
Hello lavergne-ga, and thanks for your interesting question.

There are actually quite a number of resources available to search on
surnames, and uncover a bit of history about them.

Many of these are focused on genealogical research, for people who are
delving into their family trees.  Others are research tools of a
general nature, but are nonetheless very powerful for conducting
historical searches.  And lastly, is the internet itself, which is
also a wealth of information for any persistent researcher.

Here are some of the key resources, all of which I use on a regular
basis in my own research work:



For searches in documents dating back to the 1970's or so, there's no
better resource than the LexisNexis database at:

There are several options for signing up to their research service on
a long-term basis, but for occasional use, it's best to avail yourself
of their "Pay as you go" options.  Just click on the "Not a
subscriber" button, and then the "Pay as you go" button.  Sign on with
your credit card, and you're off.

A very nice feature of LexisNexis is that you can conduct a search at
no charge -- you only pay if you access the full text of a document. 
Select the "News" search, then on "General News" and that will bring
you to the search box.

Enter the name you want to search on, select "News -- All Years" in
the Source box, and click on search.  You'll get a list of results of
newspapers, magazines and other sources that contain the name.

[Note...this will work well with uncommon names, but a common name
will return too many results.  To narrow down your search results,
read the "Help" section that LexisNexis provides].

If you want to read the full articles, click on them...LexisNexis will
charge you $3.00 per article.


If 1970's era information isn't quite far enough back for your
interests, then your next stop should be one of the genealogy sites. 
The best known such site is probably, but I actually like
the interface to provided at another site:

Enter the name you want to search on in the Surname box, and you'll be
amazed at what pops up (and while you're at it, take note of the 14
day free trial - that can get you a ton of additional information).

A search on my very uncommon last name came up with:

  Featured Databases  93  matches   

 Ancestry World Tree entries
  1994 Phone and Address Directory  28      
  Social Security Death Index  27      
  1930 United States Federal Census  17      
  California Death Index, 1940-1997  17      
  1920 United States Federal Census  4      
Your search returned 114 matches in the databases below.  
  Census Records  22  matches    

  1930 United States Federal Census  17      
  1920 United States Federal Census  4      
  New York Census, 1790-1890  1      
  Birth, Marriage, & Death Records  52  matches 

  Social Security Death Index  27      
  California Death Index, 1940-1997  17      
  Michigan Deaths, 1971-96  3      
  Florida Death Index, 1996  1      
  Florida Death Index, 1967-69  1      
  New York City Births, 1891-1902  1      
  Florida Death Index, 1994-95  1      
  Florida Death Index, 1990-91  1      

  Biography & History  4  matches 

  Biography & Genealogy Master Index (BGMI)  4      
  Immigration & Naturalization Records  2  matches 

  New York City Immigrants (Austria, Galicia, Poland), 1891  2      

  Periodicals & Newspapers  4  matches

  Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada)  4      

  Directories & Membership Lists  30  matches

  1994 Phone and Address Directory  28      
  New Haven Area, Connecticut City Directory, 1931  1      
  New Haven Area, Connecticut City Directory, 1932  1      


Another family history search database to be aware of has received a
lot of very positive attention.  I haven't used it much myself (yet)
but I would encourage you to explore this one as well.  It's the
FamilySearch database assembled my the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints at:

It's pretty self-explanatory...let me know how it turns out.


One of my favorite sources of old materials is the Making of America
data base.  This collection of thousands of books, journals and other
printed material is housed at the University of Michigan, and has been
augmented by thousands of additional materials from various university
collections.  You can search these here (and forgive them fo the
unwieldy URL):;c=blaketc;c=bosnia;c=busadwp;c=bwrp;c=conraditc;c=crossc;c=did;c=eebodemo;c=evansdemo;c=fung1tc;c=gandf;c=lincoln;c=mfs;c=moa;c=moajrnl;c=mqr;c=mqrarchive;c=ncosw;c=postid;c=roper;c=tmr;c=umhistmath;c=umr;c=umregproc;c=umsurvey;c=umtri;c=womv;xc=1;sid=8a94dfc013681fcb73880a900aeba967;page=simpleext

Click on the "check all" box and enter the name to search on in the
"Find" box.

A nifty thing about the results is that you can view them as text OR
you can pull up the original page image from the old documents in the
collection -- it's a lot of fun.


I'll mention, very briefly a useful, but troubled, service that can
search old newspapers at:

I used to use this service constantly, but lately they've run into
problems with copyrights and technical bottlenecks, so I can't say I
wholeheartedly recommend it.  But keep it in mind, just the same, and
in a spare moment, give it a whirl.


Lastly, but by no means leastly, there's Google.  Run a search on any
name of interest, and you'll be impressed, I assure you, at the
zillions of results you're likely to get;


Well, I hope this gets your searching off to a robust start.  Just
these sources alone can provide a life time of treasure hunting for
bits and pieces of information about people, places, things, and

Have a blast.  

If anything here is unclear -- or if you run into any problems using a
site -- let me know by posting a Request for Clarification, and I'll
be happy to assist you further.

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 06 Sep 2003 16:51 PDT

After I answered your question, I came across this site:

It looks like a gold lists all the major, and a lot of the
minor, data sources that allow for extensive searching on names. 
After you've tried the primary sources that I already mentioned, you
may want to visit this site and poke around a bit.  Should be fun.

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