MARRIAGE AND death records in early newspapers are of the greatest value in the study of biography and genealogy. They generally gave little more than the bare facts--in marriages the names and residences of the contracting parties with the name of the minister, and in deaths only the name and residence with the age. Births were never noted.
Although the printers gave this service freely, it was often a source of income. To prevent being flooded with encomiums on the dead, they had at least some system of payment. This custom is well shown in the agreement which three leading Boston publishers adopted, as printed in the Columbian Centinel of October 3, 1798:
For all Marriages, with a compliment to
both or either of the parties, 25 Cents must be
paid in advance. For all Deaths, with invita-
tions to funerals, 25 cents will be expected in
advance. All Characters of deceased persons,
except eminent public characters, must be paid
for as advertisements.
Otherwise there was no charge for notices, and there is no question but that this department of the newspaper was widely read. Often it was featured.