Researching Laurel County Historic Newspapers
Family historians love to find publications such as local newspapers when researching. Helpful information about ancestors, such as marriage announcements, obituaries, and other events from daily life can be found. It can be a challenge to locate digitized copies of local newspapers, but FamilySearch has been making more available.
Finding Your Family History
The free genealogy site, FamilySearch.org, now has historic newspapers from London, Kentucky, available for browsing. Prior to the pandemic, these digital images were only available at their Family History Libraries (FHS) or affiliate libraries. This process made researching difficult because of the time spent browsing.
These images are not indexed, so there is no way to search for a name. Research is conducted only by browsing the papers. The papers were first microfilmed in 1956 by the University of Kentucky. At a later point, these films were digitized.
Here is a list of some of the local Laurel County newspapers that are available:
- The London Sentinel (June 13, 1907, to January 31, 1919)
- The Sentinel-Echo (February 6,1919, (name change) to December 31, 1953)
- The Mountain Echo* (October 3, 1873, to June 10, 1887)
- The Mountain Echo (January 27, 1888, to April 25, 1916)
Quick FamilySearch Research Tutorial
To access these papers from the internet, use these steps:
- Go to the Family Search website. You may create an account and sign in, but it is not required.
- On the top left of their home page, click Search and then Catalog.
In the place box, type London, Laurel, Kentucky and it will autofill with United States, Kentucky, Laurel, London.
- Click the Search button to continue.
- On the Search Results page, click the United States, Kentucky, Laurel, London - Newspapers line, then select from the choices.
- On the next screen is a series of films. Click the camera icon on the right side to select the paper.
Many times, this camera may have a Key icon on top that means that the film is locked and can only be viewed at a FHS library. Regardless of the key icon, these films are presently unlocked.
Tip! A short-cut for the above step is after you click Search > Catalog, instead of entering the place, click the Film/Fiche Number and type the file number, which is 009050506. This shortcut takes you directly to the London paper.
Browsing for Content
If you select The London Sentinel, then click the Camera icon for the date range you want, and then the actual images of the paper will appear in chronological order. You may browse starting at image number 1.
Again, these images are not indexed and there are no finding aids. You simply have to browse. There is an image counter above the images. You can advance to an image with the arrow or by typing a number into the counter field and pressing Enter.
An excellent use of these images is to find obituaries. To find the correct film that encompasses the date of death, use a series of high and low numbers in the image counters to zero-in on the first issue after the death of your ancestor. I have found for the first time many obituaries in my family that were eloquently written and provided keen insight into their personalities.
Once a newspaper article of interest is found, you can download the whole page to your computer by clicking the Download button. Once I open the image on my computer, my photo software allows me to crop the image to the article of interest. Normally, I save the file using the name of the paper, date published, and subject as the filename. Then, I organize these into folders for family lines, people, and so on.
Finding Your Family
I am not aware of any other online locations where the London papers are digitized and available for free. I have been doing my family history research for 25 years and this is a sudden increase in easily accessible family history, and I am finding a significant amount of history for the first time that my cousins appreciate. For instance, the figure contains the marriage announcement of my grandparents in The London Sentinel (published Feb. 13, 1911).
In addition, seeing history unfold as told in a weekly small-town newspaper is very interesting. The amount of national news printed depended upon the editor. Starting in 1917, the weekly national news-cycle was momentous and browsing these newspapers for a history buff is a must.
This post first appeared in the July Blog - Laurel County Historical Society.
About the Author
Mark Watkins is the family historian for his cousins and second cousins. He is a member of KGS, and the historical societies in Laurel and Knox counties. He has family roots in those counties as well as Whitley, Livingston, Madison, Jackson, and Rockcastle Counties. He lives in Wadsworth, Ohio.
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