Have you ever seen a youngster selling newspapers on the corner? How about on stage, or television or in the movies? Newspaper headlines are designed to grab our attention.
Newspapers can provide valuable information. For anyone researching family trees that information is rarely on the front page. Inside the front page (and most likely deeper into the newspaper) gold nuggets of family information can be found.
Perhaps your relative/ancestor was known by a nickname instead of their birth name. (Mary Jane was “Minnie” or William was “Bubba.”) You might discover a previously unknown marriage or family member or an entire branch!
Not every town in the U.S. has a newspaper, but normally there was at least one in a county. You may find that your location HAD a newspaper at one time. That newspaper would contain articles about local events, people and any major news of the day. It often would include articles on what local residents and/or their relatives were doing or involved in.
The family group sheets based on your pedigree chart become essential as you search through the articles. You never know when you might find a “lost” uncle who, while moving, stopped in at a relative’s on the way to his new location. (And you thought he just fell off the earth!) The articles might provide your aunt’s married named or her previously unknown service in the F.B.I. The society column or “around town” section could give you ages (she just turned sixteen, he was drafted four days after his 18th birthday), relationships or other family information and perhaps even previously unknown destinations.
Your 2nd cousin may have lived in Scotland County, Missouri and visited relatives in Montgomery County, Maryland. Perhaps a grandson and his new bride stopped in to visit with the grandparents in North Carolina prior to being sent overseas in the military. Your grandfather had a brother who was born and died days later. Discover whole related families that you were previously unaware.
Genealogybank.com, Newspapers.com, Familysearch.org and other sites such as Fold3.com and Myheritage.com are adding newspapers or obituaries all of the time. These are all good sites, but not if they don’t have YOUR area of interest.
Come down to the Genealogy Center. We have bound volumes of newspapers and newspaper abstracts from locations throughout the United States. And don’t forget the historical society quarterlies and journals. Each month we list all of the new volumes that have arrived. They are a great source for old newspaper articles. Browse our collection. Take your time.
In August Cheryl Smith will present a class, here in the Genealogy Center – Obituaries, Society Columns, & News – How to locate & use newspapers to find your family.
You may find that one newspaper article that knocks down the brick wall and opens up a whole new ancestral line.