Monday, April 6, 2015

Using Newspapers in Genealogy Research

By this time, if you have been following my general outline you have interviewed your family members, gone to the town hall and plowed through the public records and been looking through the censuses. You have searched on and pulled up some information and now you are asking yourself what next. 

That will be determined by just how much information you have found. I am going to send you in search  of a little meat for your bare bones genealogy. Hopefully you have some sort of a genealogy program. Most of these have spots where you can write quite lengthy comments. This is where you will put in the family stories and perhaps some information you will find in the newspaper. 

First you need to figure our where your ancestor was living. It is not always easy if they are not city people to find out which newspapers were being printed at the time. I was lucky, I still lived in the general area where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived. Obituaries 100 years ago were often filled with flowery language and lots of information. 

What can you find in an obit:
  1. Place of birth
  2. Names of parents and siblings
  3. Cause of death
  4. Occupation
  5. Religious affiliations/church
  6. Clubs and organizations they belonged to
  7. Names of other relative and connections (pall bearers)
  8. Where buried
While you may not find all of these, you may find some or most. It really depends on the year and in some cases the nationality. In the 1880s in our area, Irish obits were one paragraph. By 1916 they were as detailed as you could ever hope for. Things change and ethnic groups become part of the general population as newer immigrants move in. 

Social news:
  1. Wedding
  2. Visits from friends
  3. Going to visit family and friends
  4. Births 
  5. Engagements
  6. Parties
  7. Military service and action
If you think your family did not have enough social standing to be  mentioned you may be correct but maybe not. In quiet areas everything was news and without TV and radio, most any news was printed. 

  1. Wills
  2. Bankruptcies
  3. Divorce
  4. Disputes
  5. Arrests
  6. Legal proceedings 
You will also learn a lot about the community your ancestors lived in by reading the newspapers. You can go to with a subscription and try to find a local newspaper. You can also try the local library or a genealogy library in your area. 

You may find a lot of information and you may find very little. There are some people who did manage to stay under the radar so to speak but even if you don't find a lot of specific things, you will still get to know the lives and times of your ancestors in their area much better.

#genealogy  #newspapers  #genealogy research

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