Newspapers are a rich source of information for both local and family historians. The county has been well served by newspapers since the Derry Journal [Londonderry Journal until 1880] was first published in 1772. Below is a list of newspapers relevant to the county. This list and the dates when each newspaper was first published and, in many cases ceased to exist, have been sourced from Hugh Oram, The Newspaper Book: A History of Newspapers in Ireland, 1649-1983 (Dublin, 1983).
In addition to these papers, the following province-wide newspapers are useful, particularly for earlier periods - Belfast Newsletter , Northern Whig [1824-1963], Belfast Morning News [1855, incorporated into the Irish News in 1891] and the Belfast Evening Telegraph [1870, continued as Belfast Telegraph from 1918].
Local newspapers can be consulted in public libraries. They are often available only on microfilm and have rarely been indexed.
Derry Central Library holds microfilm copies [and some original copies] of the Londonderry Sentinel [from 1829], the Derry Standard [from 1836] and the Derry Journal [from the 1840s]. It also hold copies of the Derry Almanac. It also has a substantial local history collection of books and primary sources.
Limavady Library holds microfilm copies of the Londonderry Sentinel [from 1889] and the Northern Constitution [from 1884]. It also has a substantial local history collection of books and primary sources.
Coleraine Library holds microfilm copies of the Coleraine Chronicle [from 1844], the Coleraine (later Northern) Constitution [from 1875], the Coleraine Herald [from 1897], the Ballymoney Free Press [from 1863] and the Ballymoney Northern Herald [from 1860]. It also has a substantial local history collection of books and primary sources, including microfilm copies of church records for many parts of the county.
Magherafelt Library holds microfilm copies of the Mid-Ulster [from 1891] and also has a collection of local history books related to the South Derry area.
The Local Studies Department at Ballymena Library also holds microfilm copies of the Ballymena Guardian, Mid-Ulster Mail, the Belfast News Letter and the Irish News. It also has a substantial local history collection of books and primary sources relating to the county. Many of the sources previously held in the "Irish Room" in County Hall, Coleraine are now housed here.
Belfast Central Library holds a series of fully indexed cuttings of books of articles derived from major local newspapers since 1898. The microfilm of this series spans the years 1898-1976. An index to birth, marriage and death entries in the Belfast News Letter, 1738-1864, is available at the Linen Hall Library. There is also an online index to the Belfast News Letter at http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/bnl/.
From 1899 the Northern Constitution produced the Derry and Antrim Yearbook [containing a mass of varied information relating to County Derry and North Antrim]. Hugh McGrattan, a former editor of the Coleraine Chronicle and Coleraine Constitution, has just written an article on "The first Derry and Antrim Yearbook" in the Bann Disc, Vol. 15, 2009, pp. 69-73 in which he states "As a child, I can remember the yearbook as an essential publication in the home ........I'm sure it was the same in many homes". Certainly I have memories of this being the case in our house. From a genealogical perspective the yearbook is a rich source of births, deaths and, particularly, marriages.
Newspapers, in general, are sometimes the only source for some births, deaths and marriages before compulsory registration. The Coleraine Branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society has produced a number of books and CDs on births, deaths and marriages in the Coleraine Chronicle &, the Ballymoney Northern Herald [1844-1869] and the Londonderry Sentinel [1829-1869]. Unfortunately the books are now out of print but copies are available in local libraries. The information in the books is now available in two CDs - The Londonderry Sentinel: Births, Marriages and Deaths and The Coleraine Chronicle and The Ballymoney Northern Herald: Births, Marriages and Deaths. For more details on the CDs, see http://colerainefhs.org.uk/
Copyright 2011 W. Macafee.