15 July 2009

Extra Extra Read All About It

So many times we as genealogists put on blinders. We get so "focused" in our quest for birth & death dates, we overlook the good stuff. There's so much more to newspapers than just locating the birth or death dates of our ancestors.

Researching in newspapers is not the easiest thing, many newspapers do have obituary indexes, many times there is no index for other goodies you can find there. Many of the on line editions, especially on some websites, do have search engines which can help locate the surnames of interest.

Some things besides obituaries that can be found in your local newspapers:
  • Marriage write ups - often elaborate with details on dresses, attendants, flowers, and guests
  • Funeral write ups - again with details on guests, sermons and more
  • Sports - if your ancestor was athletic you might find him on the sports pages
  • Divorces - many newspapers wrote up information on divorces sometimes giving cause of the divorce and other information such as dependant children
  • Travel & vacations - Anytime anyone went away it was sure to make the news, travel out of the state or country was big news, and usually it made its way into the paper.
  • Parties & social gatherings - who celebrated what where and with whom
  • Political - was your ancestor involved in political activities? many times political careers were made in the newspaper. Sometimes will include photo's.
  • Police situations - perhaps your ancestor was a witness or the victim. The newspaper sometimes ran these stories and they can be very detail oriented.
  • Advertising - one of my husband's ancestors did an advertisment for one of the local "medicine man" type places. It was done in the first person testimonal style and it was great - although at times the husband isn't thrilled to admit it.
  • Perhaps your ancestor was one of the correspondants for the newspaper, covering his or her township.
  • Birth announcements - even if you didn't post announcing the birth of your baby sometimes the neighborhood correspondant got wind of the birth with details and included them in the column she did.
  • Thank you notes after the death of a loved one, often including names of family members and funeral information.

I'm sure if I sat down and thought about it, I could come up with more. But for now, this list should inspire you to locate the newspapers from your ancestors home town and read all about it!

Tomorrow we'll talk more about places to find newspapers, both online and off.

Happy researching!


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