Contemporary newspapers are a valuable resource for tracing ancestors. Sylvia Murphy's article in the FIBIS Journal (details below) provides excellent guidance on using newspapers in your research and gives details of many on and offline sources.
There were dozens of English language newspapers published in India and these often include information such as:
- Domestic Occurrences - published announcements of birth, marriages and deaths
- Military promotions, movements and stations
- Shipping news such as Arrival and Departure notices
- Court reports and police news
- Public notices
All sorts of other information can be found in the newspapers and if nothing else they are an entertaining and informative glimpse of the society in which your ancestors were living.
FIBIS has extensive newspaper transcriptions. Online records taken from newspapers and periodicals can be viewed here.
- Times of India Domestic Occurrences - FIBIS volunteers are transcribing births, marriages and deaths published in the Times of India newspaper. There are already thousands of records online and these can be searched or browsed in the database.
- Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce - FIBIS volunteers are transcribing births, marriages and deaths published in the Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce newspaper. These can be searched or browsed in the database.
- Sylvia Murphy, "Using Newspapers and Journals to research your family in British India," FIBIS Journal, No 22 (Autumn 2009), pages 30-41. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.
The British Library holds extensive microfilm copies of newspapers. India based titles can be accessed via a printed list available in the Asia and Pacific reading room (on the open shelves in the microfilm reader area) see Early Indian Newspapers, now an archived webpage (at 2018/08/11). For titles of military interest, see Scope of the Collections for British Military History, 1801-1945 British Library guide, now an archived webpage (at 2018/08/10).
Some newspapers from the British Library are available online, refer external links below.
The India Office Records at the British Library include Government Gazettes IOR/V/11 1831-1947
The Government Gazettes were the official newspapers of the Government of India and its provincial governments. The series held are: Gazettes of India 1865-1947, Calcutta 1832-1947, Assam 1874-1947, Bihar and Orissa 1912-1947, United Provinces, 1850-1947, Fort St George 1832-1947, Bombay 1831-1947, Punjab 1872-1947, North-West Frontier Province 1932-1947, Central Provinces 1875-1947, Coorg 1885-1947, Sind 1869-1947, Burma 1875-1947. Summaries of the contents of each series are to be found in the handlists in the Reading Room of the British Library.
Some issues of the Gazette of India and the Calcutta Gazette are available online, refer Newspapers and journals online
Many other National and academic libraries may hold microform copies of newspapers from India.
As an example, the National Library of Australia in Canberra, holds microfilms of the Bengal Hurkaru and its related titles for the period August 1828 to December 1866.
- Google news Free site with vast selection of old newspapers and an overall search facility.
- The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985. Access to the Times Archive is available with various current subscriptions to the Times, unless you have free access through a library . Refer Miscellaneous tips. Available in the British Library Reading Rooms.
- findmypast - British Newspapers and Irish Newspapers are available to individuals with a Pro subscription (previously called World subscription, or the top subscription) but not via library and community subscriptions. (Previously British newspapers were also available with the British subscription, but this no longer applies for new subscriptions.) The newspapers are from the collection of the British Library and are the same newspapers as are included in the British Newspaper Archive see following item. The date ranges for the newspapers are directly available on the BNA; while the date range is available on findmypast, it is somewhat hidden and accessed through the Date filter. The Search may be better on the BNA, (BNA says it is "more sophisticated") and some people are known to search on the BNA, and then access the images on findmypast. Update 2020/01. The Times of India is available 1861-1888, and also Madras Courier. These newspapers are in the category "British Newspapers".
- There is also the category "Newspapers & Periodicals"/US & World newspapers, whose newspapers are not available on the British Newspaper Archive.
- FamilySearch includes two collections which consist of index records
- British Newspaper Archive, Family Notices "A collection of marriage and birth notices found in different British Newspapers. This collection comes from The British Newspaper Archive, and is a collaborative project with FindMyPast.com".
- British Newspaper Archives, Obituaries "A collection of obituaries found in the British Newspaper Archives. This is a collaborative project with FindMyPast.com". Places of death: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland.
- To access the images from which the index records are obtained you will need to search the category "Newspapers and periodicals" on findmypast, or the British Newspaper Archive, (see following item).
- FamilySearch includes two collections which consist of index records
- British Newspaper Archive is a pay site, with newspapers from the collection of the British Library. The same newspaper are also available on findmypast, refer above. The majority of the newspapers were published 1800-1900. However the website does include some published pre 1800 and a few post 1900. A list of publications is located on the Home Page (also from any page/Search/Browse by title) or the page Newspaper Titles. Now includes some Irish newspapers. Search is free with pay to view full article - also available at no cost in the British Library Reading Rooms, and some other libraries etc. Update 2020/01 The Times of India is available 1861-1888 (with planned extension to 1889) with details in a BNA link, and also Madras Courier.
- Irish Newspaper Archives is a pay site also available as a subscription website through subscribing libraries. Currently (2020/01) it contains approximately 70 titles, mainly from the 1900s, but with some earlier publications dating back to the 1700s. This website may also be accessed (free) from the British Library Reading Rooms.
- Welsh Newspapers Online. Free online resource from the National Library of Wales. Currently (2018/07) includes content to 1919.
- Illustrated London News Historical Archive 1842-2003. Available if your library has a subscription, refer Miscellaneous tips. Available in the British Library Reading Rooms. This publication is also available on findmypast and the British Newspaper Archive, refer above.
- National Digital Newspaper Program [USA], a government partnership, includes
- California Digital Newspaper Collection. Included are newspapers from San Francisco, the sea port from which ships sailed to India. Free content
- For historical Hong Kong newspapers online from Hong Kong Public Libraries, refer Hong Kong. Free content.
- For historical Singapore newspapers online from the National Library Board Singapore, refer Singapore. Free content.
- (NLA) Historic Australian Newspapers (1803 to 1954) Free content
- (NLNZ) New Zealand Papers Past (1839 to 1932) Free Content
- New York Times archive index (1851 to date) Index to free and pay articles (or search, changing to the option to NYT Articles 1851-1980).
- Elephind Free search of 1,800 newspapers from 14 countries
- Europeana Collections: Newspapers Newspapers from across Europe, from 20 countries, dating from 1618 to 1996. Free content with a Search.
- European Newspaper Archives includes links to both free and pay websites in Britain and other countries in Europe. XooxleAnswers. (retrieved 7 June 2014)
Historical books online
- South Asian History, 1750-1950; a Guide to Periodicals, Dissertations, and Newspapers by Margaret H Case 1968. Archive.org Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
- Webinar Q&A British Newspaper Archive blog May 28, 2017.