Iowa Newspapers Stacking Up With No Plan to Film

newspaper_stack_800_8757According to a news story by IowaWatch.org, current Iowa newspapers are piling up at the archives of the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines, with no current plan to microfilm or otherwise preserve them.

“Traditionally, the papers would have been sent off [for microfilming], but a 2009 budget cut ended that 50-year practice,” says the report. “A bill proposed last year would have provided funds for the backlog, but the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees the historical society, put on the breaks. It rejected the proposed funding citing pending completion of a master planning process and assessment study to evaluate what it has in the archives and how to preserve those materials in the future.”

Over 1500 bundles of newspapers await microfilm preservation, at an estimated cost of around a quarter million dollars. Officials state that they are reviewing a master plan for preserving all important materials in the state archive, not just newspapers. Click here to read the full story.

What can you do to ensure that today’s newspaper history lives on in your family

  • Digitize current obituaries and articles that mention your family.
  • Image meaningful headlines and write a journal entry about why they are important to you.
  • Keep track of these images, full source citations and your thoughts in organizational software like Evernote and attach them to your family tree in your own software and in your online trees.

How to Find Your Family History in NewspapersMeanwhile, make the most of what historical newspapers had to say about your family. More of these papers are accessible online, either directly as digitized content or through microfilm rentals or research services you can learn about online. Learn more in Lisa’s book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers.

How to Find Your Family History for Free – Getting Started

Free Family History has a nice ring to it!

Did you know you don’t have to pay for a subscription to anything to be able to start learning more about your family history?

Start to find your family history for free by asking the four questions listed below.

1. What do you already know?

Chances are that you know something about your family already. The most important facts we start with are our relatives’ names and their dates and places of birth, marriage(s) and death. These facts can help you later to distinguish between records about our relatives and others with the same name.

Write down what you know about your “direct ancestors”–your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.–on a family tree chart like this free fill-in pdf format (these are also called pedigree charts).  Then use family group sheets like this one to organize facts about each individual couple (this is where you can list all the children your grandparents had, for example).

2. What do your relatives know?

After filling out what you can, show your family tree chart and family group sheets to other relatives. Ask them if they can fill in some blanks. Remember these tips:

  • Try to include a little note about who tells you each piece of information.
  • Someone may dispute what you find. Everyone’s memory of an event is different. Don’t argue. Treat their information with respect:. Write it down. Then ask politely if they have any documentation you could see, or why they believe something to be true (who told them, etc).
  • Ask whether anything is missing from your charts: a grandparent’s second marriage, a stillborn child or even whether someone’s name is accurate. You or others might know someone by a nickname or middle name.
  • Be sensitive to information that might be confidential or not generally well-known, like a birth date that doesn’t appear more than 9 months after a wedding, or a first marriage. Consider asking living relatives if it’s okay for you to share certain facts. Consider only showing part of your charts to a relative.

3. What’s in the attic (or anywhere else)?

We can often find family documents in our own homes and those of our relatives. Look in attics, basements, storage units, safe deposit boxes and safes, filing cabinets, photo albums, scrapbooks, shoeboxes and other places where papers and memorabilia may be tucked. You’re looking for things like:

  • certificates of birth, baptism, marriage or death;
  • obituaries or other news articles, like anniversaries;
  • funeral programs, wedding and birth announcements;
  • photos with names or other notes on the backs;
  • insurance, pension, military or other paperwork that may mention births or deaths or beneficiary information;
  • wills and home ownership paperwork–even outdated ones;
  • a family Bible.

When you find family names, relationships, dates and places in these documents, add them to your charts.

4. What’s available online for free?

There are two major types of family history information online: records and trees. Records are documents created about specific people, like obituaries, birth certificates and all those other examples I just mentioned. Trees are a computerized form of other people’s family tree charts and group sheets. It can be tempting to just look for someone else’s version of your family tree. Eventually you will want to consult those. But other people’s trees are notoriously full of mistakes! Instead, start by looking for records about the relatives you already have identified.

I suggest that you start your search at FamilySearch.org because it’s totally free. At most other sites, you’ll have to subscribe or pay to see all the search results. At FamilySearch, you just need to create a free user login to get the most access to their records.

After logging in, click Search. Choose a relative you don’t know a lot about. Search for that name. Use the different search options to add more information–even a range of dates and a state/province or country–so you don’t have to wade through thousands of near-matches.

The most common records to find on FamilySearch for many countries are census and vital records.

  • A census is a tally of residents, voters or another target population. Entries often include details about a household: who lived there, how they were related, how old they were, where they were born, etc. You can often extract family information from census listings, though some things (like ages or name spellings) may not be totally accurate.
  • Vital records are official records of someone’s birth, marriage or death. In these, you’ll often find important dates and places as well as names of parents, spouses or others important to the family. They aren’t always totally accurate, and you may only be able to see an index of the record (not the actual document).

As you find search results, compare what they say to what you’ve already learned. How likely is it that this record belongs to your family? Consider how many people seem to have the same name in that location and time period (for example, how many are mentioned in the 1880 U.S. census in that state?). Don’t just look at the search results list: click through to look at the full summary of the entry and, if you can, the original record itself. You may find additional details in these that can confirm whether this record belongs to your relative. You may even find out about new people: your great-grandparents’ parents, for example. Write it all down or begin building a family tree right there on the FamilySearch website (because it’s totally free: learn more about that here.) And one of the greatest keys to long term success is citing your sources. It’s imperative that you make careful note of where you got the resource so that you can find and refer to it again later, and back up your research if it is ever called into question.

People who research their family history often describe it as a puzzle with lots of different pieces. You will need to assemble a lot of puzzle pieces–information about each relative–to begin to see the “bigger picture” of your family history. You’ll start to sense which pieces may belong to a different family puzzle. You may put together a picture that is unexpected, or has some shadows and sadness. There will likely also emerge heroic, beautiful and touching images.

Ready to learn more?

Up next, read:

7 Great Ways to Use Your iPad for Family History

How to Find Your Family Tree Online

Best Genealogy Software

Search the SSDI for Your Family History

 

 

FamilySearch Updates Include VA Pension Cards, South American Records

FamilySearch recently added another 192 million+ images and indexed records from North and South America and Europe to its growing FREE online collections. In the list at the bottom of this post you’ll find content from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, and Wales.

Notable collection updates include the 314,910 images from the Spain, Province of Barcelona, Municipal Records, 1387–1936,

collection, the 576,176 indexed records from the United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933, collection, and the 189,395,454

Sample image from “United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933.” Index and images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2013.

indexed records from the United States Public Records Index.

Here’s an example of a V.A. pension card, created by the Bureau of Pensions and Veterans Administration to record payments to veterans, widows and other dependents. FamilySearch describes the cards this way: “On the front of the cards for invalid veterans are recorded the name of veteran, his certificate number, his unit or arm of Service, the disability for which pensioned, the law or laws under which pensioned, the class of pension or certificate, the rate of pension, the effective date of pension, the date of the certificate, any fees paid, the name of the pension agency or group transferred from (if applicable), the date of death, the date the Bureau was notified, the former roll number, and ‘home.’ On the reverse side of the form appears the name of the veteran, his certificate number, and the record of the individual payments. The army and navy widow’s cards are similar to the invalids’ cards with the addition of the widow’s name and occasionally information regarding payments made to minors, but they do not indicate if the veteran had a disability.”

Collection

Indexed Records

Digital Images

Comments

Brazil, Mato Grosso, Civil Registration, 1848-2013 0 126,870 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Minas Gerais, Catholic Church Records, 1706-1999 0 827 Added images to an existing collection.
Brazil, Pernambuco, Civil Registration, 1804-2013 0 94,516 Added images to an existing collection.
Colombia, Catholic Church Records, 1600-2012 0 111,526 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, Puno, Civil Registration, 1890-2005 0 176,918 Added images to an existing collection.
Spain, Province of Barcelona, Municipal Records, 1387-1936 0 314,910 Added images to an existing collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1839 0 2,552 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1842 0 2,851 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1845 0 3,062 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1850 0 2,968 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1860 0 20,530 New browsable image collection.
Switzerland, Fribourg, Census, 1870 0 22,554 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950 324,971 690,459 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
United States Public Records Index 189,395,454 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933 576,176 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 644,004 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Wales, Court and Miscellaneous Records, 1542-1911 0 84,676 Added images to an existing collection.

 

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