On Day 31 of Family History Month, use Elephind for genealogy research. Elephind is a free, historical newspaper site that is able to search across more than 3,000 newspaper titles at 25 institutions. The website has a very clean design and is easy to use.
Elephind includes titles from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States. They have a specific list of titles from each country on their site. As well as institutions they are able to search (in the image below).
Elephind has some standard search features you’ll want to use including:
using the OR search operator if multiple words don’t need to be in the same search result
using the – search operator to exclude a word
would return mentions of “Madison” but not mentions of “James Madison”
this is helpful if you’re searching for an ancestor, James Wells, and see tons of articles with someone of the same name involved in oil drilling, so you search for
“James Wells” -oil
and those articles won’t be in your search returns
using quotation marks to search for an exact phrase (example in image below)
using the ~ search operator with a number to say how far apart two words in your search can be
“Sarah Webber” ~3
allows you to search for Sarah Webber when Webber is no more than 3 words apart from Sarah; this will return instances where her middle names are included in an article, such as “Sarah Jane Webber” or “Webber, Sarah”
Elephind doesn’t distinguish between capital and lowercase text in searches
If I’m searching for “James Wells” I can’t exclude water wells by searching for
“James Wells” -wells
this search yields no results because Elephind doesn’t distinguish letter case
In the example below I searched for an ancestor, Harry Webber, who performed in a traveling play, Nip and Tuck. I wanted to find articles about his performances so I put his name in quotation marks, “Harry Webber” and the play name in quotation marks “Nip and Tuck”. Elephind returned only newspapers that contained both “Harry Webber” and “Nip and Tuck”. Technically, you don’t need the AND operator, but I like to use it for consistency to show what I was searching for. If you don’t use an operator between the phrases, Elephind assumes there is an AND search operator.
You’re also able to refine your search results using the options in the left column of your search results page. These options include:
Country/State of Publication
Language of Publication
These are extremely helpful search tools. In the case of my ancestor, Harry Webber, if I know Harry Webber never traveled to Australia, I can refine my search results to include only publications in the United States. If I know he was traveling in the 1880s, I can also refine my results by decade. If I don’t know how widely he traveled, I let Elephind search every source and publication in the United States, published in the 1880s.
Best in your searches at Elephind!