Genealogy 101 - Lecture IV

Presented by David Norris
Sponsored by the New Hanover County Public Library
February 2008

Newspapers, Maps


The New Hanover County Public Library has a large collection of Wilmington newspapers on microfilm in the North Carolina History Room; none of these are available online.

UNC-W Library also has some Wilmington, North Carolina, colonial papers on microfilm, plus extensive files of major national newspapers.

Newspapers - Paid Sites:

The Godfrey Library ( is a great bargain. Annual membership includes online access to Newsbank’s Early American Newspapers; Infotrack’s “19 th Century U. S. Newspapers”, and Gales’ “Times Digital Archive” (the Times of London, 1785-1985). All are easily searchable by keywords, and you can download page images.

Genealogy Bank ( also has an excellent collection of early-to-recent US newspapers. Highlights includeThe Charlotte Observer from about 1888-1922.

At this writing, Newspaper offers over 76 million pages, from 2,742 newspapers dated from 1759 to 2006. There are hundreds of city and small-town newspapers from all US states, but they also have selections of papers from Canada, Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and Denmark. Most issues are fairly recent (less than 30-40 years old), and their coverage of the South is not deep.

Vintage Online Newspapers - Free sites

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) is online, courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library at . This paper had good nationwide coverage, with a lot of references to Wilmington and North Carolina.

The New York Times archives, dating from 1851 to today, are online. Visit their home page at and there is a search bar at the top of the page. Articles before 1923 and after 1987 are viewable free; those from in-between years require payment.

Fulton History: Over five million newspaper pages from northern and central New York can be searched at Thomas Tryniski’s site (These include many Civil War-era articles about New York units in eastern North Carolina.)

“Past Portal”, a digital project of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, offers online access to the 18 th century Virginia Gazette -- three different Williamsburg papers by that name between 1736 and 1780. All three were competing at the same time in 1775-1776! You can find the Virginia Gazette search page at

Because of the scarcity of newspapers in colonial America, the Virginia Gazettes also contain advertisements and news from NC and other Southern colonies.

Richmond Daily Dispatch (1860-1865) at is a word-searchable text version of this important Civil War resource.

“Papers Past”, from the National Library of New Zealand, offers online access to their country’s 19 th century newspapers There are a surprising number of Wilmington and North Carolina references about major news events.


Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Wilmington are available both original and on microfilm at the New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room.

The New Hanover County Public Library, North Carolina Room has an extensinve collection of maps of Wilmington and south-east North Carolina. (See Lecture I notes for information on accessing NC Live.)

Online Maps

The NHCPL offers, through NC Live, online versions of all Sanborn maps for North Carolina towns, dating as far back as 1884.

The Library of Congress offers thousands of free, downloadable online maps. Go to their “American Memory” page at, and select “Maps.” Don’t miss “Civil War Maps” (with 87 North Carolina maps, including wartime maps of Wilmington, Fort Fisher, and eastern North Carolina.) and their “Panoramic Maps” with beautiful “bird’s-eye” views of hundreds of US towns and cities. There is a notable map of Raleigh dating from 1872.

The Gilmer Civil War Maps, from theManuscripts Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, includes a large collection including 36 maps of North Carolina, including wonderful maps of Wilmington and Fort Fisher.

The US Military Academy Library's Digital Collection of Maps - includes collections of Civil War maps (including maps of parts of Brunswick and Pender Counties), and Colonial and Revolutionary Maps.

Office of Coast Survey's Historical Map & Chart Collection offers 20,000 maps and charts from late 1700s to recent decades. There are many North Carolina maps, especially of the Cape Fear River from Bald Head Island up to Wilmington; the Neuse River to New Bern; the Albemarle Sound; Beaufort; and the Outer Banks.

Geographic Names Information System (US Geological Survey; is an online gazetteer with 2 million American place names. Each one can be located on several services that offer digital topographic maps, and aerial photos.

US Geological Survey - To buy copies of historic topographic maps made by the US Geological Survey, see is designed for real estate, but it’s easy to find aerial views of cities or particular addresses with connections to your family.

The Gmaps Pedometer uses Google Map to let you measure car trips or walks around your neighborhood.

National Archives - Aerial Photos dating back to the 1930s can be found at the National Archives, in the Cartographic and Architectural Section, and the Still Picture Branch. For more information, you can visit

Specific ordering information can be found at

New Hanover Co. aerials from 1949

Prepared by David Norris for Genealogy 101 sponsored by the New Hanover Public Library, February 2008

Copyright David Norris 2008