Have you ever typed your ancestor's name into the search box at Google News Archive and then moved on to something else after coming up empty? If so, then go back today and try again. Google News Archive is a wonderful resource, with digitized historical newspaper pages from hundreds of various newspaper titles from around the world including such titles as The Montreal Gazette, The Sydney Morning Herald, St. Petersburg Times and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But old newspaper print is not very conducive to OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and in my opinion Google just doesn't do as good a job with the digitization to text as some of the other online newspaper archives. Small print, such as is often found in Death Notices and similar columns, is very often not recognized at all, so a search for those names will come up empty. I've also encountered a number of pages that were scanned in "sideways" (landscape format) which apparently caused the text on those pages to not be recognized at all by OCR.
What does this mean for individuals searching for bits of their family history in Google News Archive? The only way you're going to find it all is to browse every page of every edition (and even then, all editions might not be included). Since that's not very practical, the next best thing is to be creative in your searches, or just to browse page-by-page through the several editions that bracket a particular event, such as a death. Use the "date range" and "source" restrictions in Advanced Search to find the right newspapers.
A search for "happ" restricted to source "pittsburgh" (which picks up the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Press and others) brings up several hits for my husband's Happ ancestors, including the obituary for Louis Happ, the brother of his great-grandfather. The death notice for his great-grandfather Anton Happ, however, wasn't as large although almost as recent, and wasn't found through a keyword search, even when restricting by "source" and "date."
Newspaper results are often worth the extra work involved, however. Browsing the Pittsburgh papers I found not only death notices (which often mention relatives and church affiliations), but also reports of railroad and streetcar accidents, divorce cases, estate proceedings, lists of military pensioners, and even letters to Santa Claus. I've put together some Search Tips for Google News Archive to help you with your search, along with suggestions for how to save articles once you find them (since Google doesn't allow direct downloading or printing). If this helps you find something interesting, please share it with the rest of us in the comments below!