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Discoveries: Early Irish Vital Records Were Published in U.S. Newspapers

Here's a great tip for genealogists researching their Irish American family history: early Irish vital records were published in American newspapers, and many can be found in online collections such as GenealogyBank's Irish American Newspaper Archives.

For example, the Irish American—a U.S. newspaper published in New York City—routinely published thousands of Irish marriage and death records from 1849 to 1914.

No, not every Irish marriage and death record, but nonetheless this historical newspaper does provide exceptionally wide coverage of marriages and deaths from across Ireland. This material is extensive enough that genealogists will want to thoroughly review this online newspaper for coverage of their family in Ireland.

Here is a typical example of an Irish marriage record from the Irish American: Thomas Mathews of Dunbar, County Louth, married Bride Somers of Court Brown, Askeaton, County Limerick, on 19 June 1895. (And yes, that really is her first name!)


Source: Library of Congress, digital ID ppmsc.09881

This Irish couple got married at the "Kingstown Catholic Church," which is pictured in the center right of this 1895 image of Kingstown harbor.

Kingstown is in Dublin County, Ireland.

Reading further in this Irish marriage record, we learn that the bride was the eldest daughter of Michael Somers and the niece of John Fitzgibbon of Castlerea, County Roscommon. Wow—relatives in three counties are named: Limerick, Louth and Roscommon, plus the Church was located in Dublin County. That's four locations in Ireland to look for additional family records.

This is terrific information that genealogists are looking for to trace their Irish ancestry.

Here is another example from the Irish American, this time of Irish death records published in 1849.

1849? Wow! This newspaper's Irish death records start in 1849—15 years before the official civil registration started.


Irish American (New York, New York), 28 October 1849

Here's a handy list of GenealogyBank's online Irish-American Newspapers.

Historical newspapers (digital editions of every page of the newspaper): Obituaries (only the obituaries from each issue): All newspapers have obituaries, but an important feature in Irish American newspapers is that they often picked up obituaries from areas far away from where the newspaper itself was published.

Because these historical newspapers were written specifically for the Irish who settled here in America, these obituaries provide useful pieces of family history that can be hard to find in other sources. Newspapers are a great resource for finding the name of the town or county in Ireland where your Irish American ancestor was born.

Only newspapers give us this much detail about our Irish American ancestors.