Recently I decided to learn more about my great-uncle Paul McClellan, my grandfather’s brother. After World War II, Paul left his Idaho hometown for Pennsylvania. Surviving relatives know hardly anything of his life or family.
The census only takes me through 1940 and he lived through the 1970s. Pennsylvania vital records are pretty tight-lipped. So almost immediately, I found myself looking for obituaries.
Our online community tree at FamilySearch told me when and where he died. I emailed the local history and genealogy contact at the public library in that town. I heard back within a day and had this obituary within a week.
I’ve seen a lot of detailed obituaries. But perhaps because I’m so thirsty for information on Paul, the level of detail in this obituary made me especially happy. I see his:
Hospital where he died and length of stay there
Birthplace and age
Parents’ names, including mother’s maiden name
Employer and retirement date
Membership in local civic organizations
WWII Army veteran status
Surviving widow’s name, including maiden name
Names, spouses and residences of surviving siblings
Name of funeral home and officiator of funeral
Wow! Some of these details confirmed that I had the right guy: his age, birth data, relatives’ names. Others open new avenues of research for me. I’ve already started following leads to the civic organizations, funeral home and cemetery.
You know, what is NOT said in this obituary may also prove important as I continue my research on Paul. First, there are no surviving children or grandchildren listed. This disappoints me as I was told he did have children by at least one previous marriage. If he did have children, the informant (his widow?) either didn’t know about them or didn’t choose to mention them. Second, the informant did know a lot about Paul’s kin. Maybe Paul and his wife didn’t totally lose touch with the folks back home–it just seems so years later.
Have you worked much with obituaries? Do you know how to find them? Learn more in Lisa’s book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, available in print or as an e-book. There’s an entire chapter on online digitized newspaper collections, and one on online resources for finding newspapers (either online or offline). Yet another chapter is devoted to African American newspapers. This book will teach you to find all those elusive obituaries–and plenty more mentions of your family in old newspapers.
German place names have changed dramatically over time, so it can be challenging to identify your German ancestors’ place of origin. This free online tool helps family historians navigate changes in German place names, jurisdictions, and boundaries. Thank you to...
Looking for an easy way to make a big difference? Help collect Holocaust newspaper articles printed in your local newspapers for the History Unfolded project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Do it on your own, or with your local genealogical or historical society!
What is History Unfolded?History Unfolded is a project that seeks to expand our knowledge of how American newspapers reported on Nazi persecution during the 1930s and ’40s so we can better understand what Americans knew about the Holocaust as it was happening.
To help achieve this, the History Unfolded project asks people like you to search local newspapers from the 1930s and ’40s for Holocaust-related news and opinions and then submit them online to the museum. The newspaper articles you submit will be used to help shape the museum’s 2018 exhibit on Americans and the Holocaust and related educational materials. The articles will also be made available to scholars, historians, and the public.
Who Can Contribute? Everyone! History buffs, students, teachers (with) an interest in the Holocaust and access to a newspaper from the 1930s or ’40s, either online (using Newspapers.com, for example) or through a physical archive, such as a library. Simply create an account with History Unfolded (to get started.)
How Do I Contribute? History Unfolded has created a list of more than 30 Holocaust-related events to focus on. Choose one of these events to research, then search for content related to that topic in an American newspaper of your choice from the 1930s or ’40s. After you find an article related to one of the events, submit it online to the museum through the project’s website.
Newspapers.com and History Unfolded You can contribute to this important project whether or not you use Newspapers.com to do so. But using Newspapers.com makes it even easier to submit the articles you find. Simply use Newspapers.com to create a clipping of an article you’ve found, then submit that clipping through the submission form on the History Unfolded website. The submission form has a special tool created specifically for Newspapers.com users that makes submitting your clipping a snap.
Your help with this project will help shape our understanding of the Holocaust and the lessons it holds for us today. For more information on how to get involved, visit the History Unfolded website.
Get involved! Click here to read about more ways to volunteer in our global genealogy community. Your efforts make a huge difference.
Reveal more about your family’s unique story through DNA and genealogy!
What You Will Learn in this Genealogy Webinar Video:
Your DNA Guide will get you started using DNA
There are more options, and possible outcomes, than you might think! Diahan will walk you through the choices.
Lisa Louise Cooke will provide strategies for filling in the gaps in your family’s story
Lisa will show you online tools that go well beyond names and dates. Then we’ll expand your story in unexpected ways by finding DNA connections.
Lisa & Beth Forester will show you how to share the story you’ve uncovered through video
You’ll discover how easy it is to tell your story like a pro!
Watch the Free Genealogy Webinar Video Below:
Genealogy Societies and Libraries:
You have our permission to show this free video class to your genealogy society or library group and you are welcome to advertise the presentation to your local media outlets, newsletter, social media, etc. Attribution Requirements: Include the text “This video is presented by Lisa Louise Cooke and Diahan Southard and sponsored by Animoto. Learn more at https://lisalouisecooke.com/webinar/” This attribution must be included in all promotions and announcements about the presentation. Please also share with your audience that we have several companion resources:
If you’re interested in showing more video classes to your group in the future, check out our Genealogy Gems for Societies package! It is a licensing subscription service just for genealogical societies and groups such as libraries. The package provides you with a 1-year license to show one video class per event or meeting (click here for current video class catalog) and includes printable handouts. Learn more and purchase the 1-year Genealogy Gems for Societies package here.
For any questions about attribution requirements or the Genealogy Gems for Societies package, please email us at email@example.com.
These two unusual genealogy sources may unlock secrets to your family history research! The Archive Lady Melissa Barker shares tips for finding and using these two little-known types of original manuscripts that you may find tucked away in an archive. Two unusual...