NEwspapers in Archives
Background and Indexes
A printable copy of this Guide is available here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).
Newspapers can be valuable sources of information for those interested in family and local history. They can be used a primary sources recording events at the time that they occurred. Given the amount of material, however, they can also be overwhelming to find nuggets of useful information in cabinets full of microfilm. This pathfinder will help guide the searcher through the local newspaper resources in all formats of the La Crosse Public Library.
The Archives Department at the La Crosse Public Library maintains all La Crosse County newspapers published on microfilm from 1853 to current. The most current six months are available in paper format.
The library and volunteers from the La Crosse Area Genealogical Society have created indexes to the obituaries printed in the local paper. Printed and online indexes to obituaries from the La Crosse Tribune, a daily paper published since 1904, are available and include 1904-1959; 1983-present. Birth and marriage information gleaned from the newspaper is indexed 1987-present, and divorce data exists from 1992-present. The library welcomes volunteer indexers to help close this gap. For help in finding birth, marriage and death dates beyond these dates of coverage, check the library version of Ancestry.com to search appropriate databases such as the social security death index or a state wide index such as Wisconsin Marriages, pre-1907, or Wisconsin Marriages, 1973-1997, Wisconsin Death Index, 1959-1997, and the like.
The web address for the local indexes can be found at: /genealogy/index.asp by scrolling down to Cemetery indexes. Instructions on how to get copies are included on the results pages.
Searching Tips for Online Genealogy Indexes
You must specify either a first or last name (surname) to begin the search. The index is not case sensitive, so using upper or lower case letters is okay. After you've entered the name you're searching for, be sure to click on the "Submit Search" button near the bottom of the page. Searching for just a surname will assure you have viewed all the first name possibilities. Many early obituaries used initials instead of full first names, such as L. W. Ender rather than Louis Ender. Women were often listed by their husband's first name or initials, such as Mrs. William Johnson instead of Mary Johnson.
Hint: First try searching by the last name (surname) only. Also try variant spellings of the name(s).
By typing an asterisk (*) at the beginning, middle or end of a name, you can search for multiple forms of the name. This can help to limit or broaden your search depending on how you use it.
Hint: If you were searching for an obituary for James T. Kramer but had no luck using James in the first name box, use J* instead. This will bring up all KRAMER citations whose first names start with the letter J, including those with just the initial "J."
Hint: To help find a name that could be spelled different ways, use the asterisk (*). For example, to find all the last names (surnames) spelled both HANSON and HANSEN, type HANS*N in the last name box to find search results consisting of both spellings. This is also helpful for names with spaces in them such as LA FLEUR, VAN STEENWYK, etc., use an asterisk (*) in place of the space to pull up all variations.
Display or Sort Option
The search results screen shows 10 citations at a time. If your search results have yielded more than one page of citations, click on "Next" to view the next page of records. Once the search results screen appears, you can sort the search results list in a number of ways by clicking on the appropriate header. Depending on the index you're searching, the heading choices will change. This may help you narrow your choices to the likely individual(s) you're seeking.
Hint: If you want to sort by date from oldest to most current citation in your list of results, click on the highlighted heading Date in the table.
Not finding the names you want in the obituary index?
Hint: Try your query using the cemetery index choice. This can be helpful in matching up spouses and families. If an exact death or burial date is provided, contact us and we may be able to find an obituary. If only a year of death is given, then we suggest you contact the appropriate Register of Deeds office or cemetery office for more information.
While the library has a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition, the historical newspaper images are not a part of this subscription which is included in versions available to individual subscribers. But everyone in Wisconsin has free and remote access to Newspaper Archive which is the same database that Ancestry uses. To access this database from the La Crosse Public Library site, click on Find Information on the left hand side, click on the link for BadgerLink on the right hand side and then click on Access Newspaper Archive. Over 3100 newspaper titles are indexed here that include full images of the paper! For La Crosse, currently the La Crosse Tribune 1905-1951, as well as many older La Crosse papers, including foreign language papers, are available at this site for browsing or searching by keyword, spanning coverage from 1852-1951. Names can be difficult to search on this.
A partial index to articles in the La Crosse Tribune covering news events in the city of La Crosse from1990-present is maintained by the Archives Department of the La Crosse Public Library, and includes general news articles about the La Crosse County area and La Crescent, Minnesota. Human interest stories, sports scores and most letters to the editor are not included. The index covers the La Crosse Tribune from September 1990 to the current month. To search this site, go to: http://lpl.lacrosse.lib.wi.us:81/ipac20/ipac.jsp?profile=main#focus . The Archives Department in the library also maintains a clipping file with information about businesses, schools, organizations, and notable people since 1976. Articles before 1976 can also be found in the clipping file although there was no systematic indexing before this benchmark year.
Click here for a printable copy of this guide (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).
updated 1/29/2010 by mi