Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.
Episode 28: Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 2
Newspapers offer such a unique perspective on history in general, and our ancestors specifically. In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we talked about finding historical newspapers. In this episode, Jane Knowles Lindsey at the California Genealogical Society shares inspiring stories about the kinds of family items she’s found in newspapers. She offers a dozen more fantastic tips on researching old newspapers.
Jane mentions these family history finds from old newspapers:
crimes involving relatives as victims, perpetrators, investigators, etc.
profiles of jurors
probate items and transcriptions from court cases, like divorces
Here are 12 more tips for researching newspapers and organizing your discoveries:
If you print out newspaper content found online, make sure you note where you found it. Source citation information may not be included in what you print.
Look for probate and “bigger” news items in newspapers that have wider coverage than the town: a neighboring larger city or a county-wide paper. Also look at the map to see whether the nearest big paper is out-of-county or even out of state.
Social calendar items (family visits, etc) were most popular up to the 1960s and 1970s. Newspapers today don’t look at local and personal news items.
Sometimes death notices for more prominent people are accompanied by a much larger article about them that runs within a week before or after the obituary.
There may have been both a morning and afternoon newspaper in some areas. Learn what papers were in town.
Transcribe short newspaper articles into your family history software. Transcription helps you catch details you may otherwise miss, if you’re not reading very carefully.
Nowadays with OCR and scanning, you can actually keep a digital copy of the article itself.
Look for ethnic newspapers in the advanced search at the U.S. Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America.
Any mention in a newspaper can point you to other records: court files, immigration and naturalization papers, military documents, cemetery records and more.
Google! See the link below for the updated Google News resource (for historical newspapers).
Newspapers can act as a substitute or supplement for records that have been lost in courthouse fires and floods or other records.
Like today, not everything we read in the newspaper is true!
Updates and Links
Some of the digital newspaper collections mentioned in the episode are available by library subscription, like The Early American Newspapers collection the and 19th century Newspaper Collection from The Gale Group. Check with your local library.
My You Tube channel now has several videos on newspaper research and on using Google’s powerful tools for your family history research. However, Google discontinued the Google News Timeline mentioned in this episode.
Check out the benefits of Genealogy Gems Premium Membership–including all those great video classes mentioned in the episode–here.
Finally, don’t forget this Genealogy Gems resource: How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers walks you through the process of finding and researching old newspapers. You’ll find step-by-step instructions, worksheets and checklists, tons of free online resources, websites worth paying for, location-based newspaper websites and a case study that shows you how it’s done.
Originally designed specifically for the iPad in 2010, the free Flipboard app has moved onto all the major mobile platforms. And this cool new technology has just gotten better with a big dose of genealogy!
Genealogy Gems has published the magazine in conjunction with the RootsTech program team in a continuing effort to help family historians embrace new technologies and present RootsTech attendees with the possibilities.
Consider what’s been happening in the mobile space this last year:
Smartphone usage in the U.S. increased by 50 percent (Kleiner Perkins)
The number of emails being opened on mobile increased by 330 percent (Litmus)
Tablet usage doubled in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)
The bottom line: More than ever folks are accessing websites, videos, podcasts, blogs and other online information on their mobile devices. That’s where the free Flipboard app comes in.
The free Flipboard app is a social-network and online aggregator of web content and RSS channels for Android, Blackberry 10, iOS, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8. Content is presented in a captivating magazine format allowing users to “flip” through it with a simple swipe of the finger.
This magazine has presented an opportunity to crowd-source the know-how and talent of all of those who work to make RootsTech a success. The magazine offers an exciting look at the RootsTech experience the innovative technologies emerging in the genealogy industry, and a new vehicle for everyone in the RootsTech community to converge! The pages go beyond text and images by also delivering video and audio!
Five new Scotland genealogy record collections are online at Findmypast. Also: Irish police registers; records from Wiltshire and Westmorland, England; and digitized British and Irish newspapers. Enjoy exploring your British Isles ancestry! Featured collection:...
I’m busy packing my bags getting ready to make the trip from California to London for my third appearance at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London.
Here I am in last year’s experts panel
I’ll be teaching some of my favorite classes (sorry, they are already sold out, but I look forward to seeing those of you who have tickets there):
Friday 3/22 at 2:30 pm Ultimate Google Search Strategies
Saturday 3/23 at 11:00 Turn Your iPad (and Tablet Too!) into a Family History Powerhouse
If you don’t get a chance to attend my classes don’t fret, because I have a free ebook for you called 5 Fabulous Google Search Strategies for the Family Historianthat will jump-start your research. It’s available for free when you sign up for my free Genealogy Gems e-Newsletter.
One of the best parts about the event for me is meeting all of you! And this year that will be easier than ever. When I’m not teaching you can find me at the Family ChartMasters booth (#12)
There’s so much to look forward to at this years event. Whether you’re new to tracing your family tree or a seasoned researcher, it’s packed with genealogy experts, informative workshops, over 160 specialist exhibitors and celebrities from the UK television series to help you with your own family history search. Is it any wonder that Who To You Think You Are? Live made it on my 50 Family History Favorites list (which includes my top 5 conference picks!) Here the list in the brand new free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 151.
It is often said that “bigger is better” here in America, but in the case of family history conferences, the British have won the “super-sized” title. As an American genealogist, when I walk into the immense Olympia convention centre, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Contained within those walls is more energy, more color (LOVE the hot pink carpeting!), more vendors and more genealogists than just about anywhere else. You certainly don’t have to have British roots to benefit from attending. This is my third year and I look forward to it as much as the first time.
So many of the Genealogy Gems Podcast’s 1 million downloads have been from the UK that it’s like “old home week” for me. Hope to see you there!