Find Family History with Online Newspaper Research: More Chronicling America

Have you already searched for your relatives’ names at Chronicling America, the the Library of Congress’ web collection of digitized American newspapers? Well, search again!

Recently the the Library of Congress added more than 600,000 historic newspaper pages to its enormous collection. According to a press release, these pages include “first-time contributions from Iowa, Michigan, and West Virginia. Other new additions include content from Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.” The site now has over 6.6 million searchable newspaper pages from over 1100 newspaper titles, published in 30 states and Washington, D.C. between 1836 and 1922.

Newspaper Book CoverWhat are the chances your family will appear on one of those pages? Pretty good, actually. Here’s a list of the kinds of articles they may show up in from my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers:

  • Advertising: classifieds, companies your ancestor worked for or owned, grocery or dry goods stores ads (for historical context), runaway slaves search and reward, ship departures.
  • Births & deaths: birth announcements, card of thanks printed by the family, obituary and death notices, “Community Pioneer” article upon passing,  funeral notice, reporting of the event that lead to the death, or the funeral.
  • Legal notices and public announcements: auctions, bankruptcies, city council meetings, divorce filings, estate sales, executions and punishments, lawsuits, marriage licenses, probate notices tax seizures, sheriff’s sale lists.
  • Lists: disaster victims, hotel registrations, juror’s and judicial reporting, letters left in the post office, military lists, newly naturalized citizens, passenger lists (immigrants and travelers), unclaimed mail notices.
  • News articles: accidents, fires, etc. featuring your ancestor; front page (for the big picture); industry news (related to occupations); natural disasters in the area; shipping news; social history articles.
  • Community and social events like school graduations, honor rolls, sporting and theater events; social news like anniversaries, church events, clubs, engagements, family reunions, visiting relatives, parties, travel, gossip columns, illnesses, weddings and marriage announcements.

Learn more about researching family history with my book, available in both print and e-book format. And don’t forget to keep checking Chronicling America for stories and clues about your ancestors’ lives.

Season Three

Genealogy Gems Podcast and Family HistoryThe Genealogy Gems Podcast Episodes
2008 – 2009 Season Three

Scroll to the bottom of each Podcast Show Notes Page and click the episode mp3 file to download the episode for listening.  It will take a minute or two for the episode to download, and it will open in your computer’s audio program (for example: Quicktime or Windows Media Player.)

Episode 41 Listen & Show Notes
Family History Expo Wrap-Up, California Voter’s Database at Ancestry and Day of the Week Tool, Mailbox, Lulu, Valentine For You: Stories of Love

Episode 42  Listen & Show Notes
Family Tree Magazine, Genline, and another great Venice Song

Episode 43 Listen & Show Notes
Genealogy at Borders, Roots Television Interview, the new U.S. Census Bureau History Website, and Crossword Puzzle

Episode 44 Listen & Show Notes
Canadian Border Crossings, Godfrey Memorial Library, U.S. Census Bureau, and Digital Preservation Cheat Sheet

Episode 45  Listen & Show Notes
Prison stories & research, Google customization, & Free British Records

Episode 46 Listen & Show Notes
A listener’s Leatherhead, Handwriting Analysis, and Genealogy Gems Premium.

Episode 47 Listen & Show Notes
A Walk Through Childhood Memories, Family Tree and Me Displays, Girding Your Loins with James Mowatt of the Historyzine Podcast, Birthday Alarm Website, Ancestor Handwriting Analysis Winner and a new analysis of a single signature by Paula Sassi, Announcement of the NEW Family Tree Magazine hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke.

Episode 48  Listen & Show Notes
Lisa’s exclusive interview with Kathy Lennon of The Lennon Sisters.  Kathy discusses her passion for family history and the Lennon family tree.  Also, Paula Sassi analyzes the handwriting of our contest winner’s ancestor.  Plus a new look for the Genealogy Gems Podcast Newsletter.

Episode 49 Listen & Show Notes
A great idea for genealogy societies, new Family Tree Magazine Podcast episode and Lisa’s genealogy podcasting article and videos for the magazine, Train Robbery History, Part 2 of Lisa’s interview with Kathy Lennon of the famous Lennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Show, Premium Discount, Handwriting Analysis opportunity and the Best Pals Contest.

Episode 50  Listen & Show Notes
The Louise Carousel, Amos Alonzo Stagg, A Little Genealogy Daydreaming with genealogy podcasters, Interview with Tim Russell of A Prairie Home Companion, America’s first radio stations, Handwriting analysis of a victim of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, State Fair History, Best Pals Dolls Winner Announcement, and Upcoming Conferences.

Episode 51 Listen & Show Notes
Interview with Jim Beidler, Chairman of the FGS 2008 Conference, The History of the Ice Cream Cone, Discount on Premium Membership, Mac Minutes with Ben Sayer, The MacGenealogist, Favorite Genealogy Sayings, Census Abbreviations.

Episode 52  Listen & Show Notes
Gems From Across the Pond: Interviews with genealogy author and lecturer Rick Crume, and British Records Specialist Dr. Christopher T. Watts, and British History Podcasts.

Episode 53  Listen & Show Notes
Virginia Halloween History, Mailbox, Navy History, Interview with Yvette Arts of World Vital Records & Search Tips, Chips the U.S. War Dog, The MacGenealogist reviews iFamily for Leopard, and Name That Tune!

Episode 54  Listen and Show Notes
New podcast launch: Family History: Genealogy Made Easy, History that puts a little cash in your pocket, Interview with the Forensic Genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, Some Ideas on Creating family traditions and Heirlooms, The MacGenealogist, Another Linguistic History Trivia Bit, and Name That Tune Round 2!

Episode 55  Listen and Show Notes
Genealogy News, New Google Gadgets, Discover the census records you probably aren’t using, but should with Curt Witcher of the Allen County Library, Taxing Bachelorhood, and Name That Tune Round 3!

Episode 56  Listen and Show Notes
The 2009 Genealogy Gems Christmas Podcast

Episode 57  Listen and Show Notes
Frisbee & Fuller Brush History, Southern California Genealogical Jamboree, Interview with Sally Jacobs the Practical Archivist on Photo Preservation

Episode 58  Listen and Show Notes
Review of Behind the Scenes with Ancestry, Exciting New Records Online, Income Tax History, Creating a Family History Valentine, Lisa answers Listener Questions

Episode 59  Listen and Show Notes
Review of new online records, The First U.S. Presidential Photograph, Interview with Holly Hansen of Family History Expos, GenClass with Lisa Alzo, Number Please?

Episode 60  Listen and Show Notes
We celebrate the 2nd birthday of the podcast with our special guest Darby Hinton who starred in the 1960s TV show Daniel Boone. Lisa also makes recommendations to a listener on her Bristol Brick Wall.

PERSI for Genealogy: the Periodical Source Index

PERSI for Genealogy Periodical Source Citation Index

Have you met PERSI? You should! PERSI is the Periodical Source Index. Use PERSI for genealogy and you may discover your ancestors in thousands of articles you never knew existed. 

You may have heard me talk in the past about PERSI. In case you haven’t…PERSI is not a person—it’s the acronym for the Periodical Source Index. PERSI is THE master index for periodicals with over 2.7 million entries. Thousands of magazines, newsletters, journals, and other periodicals from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Australia are indexed here.

PERSI is maintained by the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have the equivalent of 6 full-time staff who are dedicated to subject-indexing every issue of every known genealogy or historical periodical and even the tiniest society newsletter.

Curt Witcher, who runs the Genealogy Center at Allen County and who has been a guest on the podcast in the past, estimates that if you don’t consult periodicals in your research, you could be missing up to 30% of your research leads! That’s a lot of leads! PERSI has long been a staple resource for advanced and professional genealogists to help them break through brick walls. With its help, you can much more quickly locate articles like biographical sketches of ancestors (or people they knew), transcribed indexes to naturalization or probate records, church records, school records, and the like. There might be just-what-you-need histories of places or the organizations your ancestors belonged to.

These key articles are often buried so deep in back issues of little local genealogy newsletters that you may never come across them on your own. Sometimes, they’re what we call “orphaned” content: articles we’d find in totally unexpected places.

HOW TO SEARCH PERSI ONLINE

PERSI used to be searchable on Ancestry, but it isn’t there anymore. The current version of PERSI is exclusively on Findmypast and they’re doing something really cool with it: they are gradually adding digitized articles to the index! They are doing this by signing contracts with each individual society or journal publisher, so it’s not a fast process. The vast majority of entries on PERSI do not have digitized articles linked to them yet. It’s a bonus when you do find them.

To search PERSI at Findmypast you do not actually need a subscription. They allow anyone to search and see the list of results. To see details about specific search results (including any digitized images), you will need a subscription OR you will need to purchase their pay-per-view credits. Findmypast does offer a 14-day free trial. You can also use Findmypast at Family History Centers and at many libraries that have institutional subscriptions.

Once you have located an article, it’s inexpensive to order a copy directly from the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. Simply download the order form PDF from their website, fill it out, and mail it in. Last we checked, you can request up to six articles for only $7.50, which you pre-pay and then they bill you separately for copies at 20 cents per page.

Sometime soon, why not take 15 minutes—or your next lunch break at work–and search PERSI for your top surnames and locations? Again, the database is PERSI, it is at Findmypast, and the chance to discover is all yours.

MORE GEMS ON PERSI

PERSI Digitized Collections Gaining GroundGenealogy Gems - Family History Podcast and Website

New FindMyPast Hints Help Find Records

The Genealogy Gems Podcast Premium Episode 135: Comparsion of Google Scholar & PERSI (Premium Member Subscription Needed)

 

We Dig These New Genealogy Records Gems every Friday!

Every week, we see so many new genealogy records posted online! We highlight major resources in individual blog posts. But sometimes smaller or regional collections catch our eye, too. We’ll round these up for you in a post like this on Fridays.

Watch for the genealogy records that your ancestors might appear in–but also watch for the kinds of records that may be out there for your kin, which might help you break down your family history “brick walls.”

PRISON RECORDS. Kingston, Canada, Penitentiary Inmate Ledgers, 1913-1916, are now available on Flickr. According to GenealogyCanada.blogspot.com, “The ledger includes frontal and profile mug shots, the inmate’s name, alias, age, place of birth, height, weight, complexion, eye colour, hair colour, distinctive physical marks, occupation, sentence, date of sentence, place of sentence, crime committed, and remarks of authorities.”

CEMETERY HEADSTONES. The Canadian Headstone Photo Project is now also searchable at FamilySearch.org. The original site with over a million headstone photos isn’t new. But some people don’t know about the site, and its search interface isn’t as pretty or flexible. So we think it’s nice that FamilySearch is hosting that data, too. According to FamilySearch, the collection is still growing. “This collection will include records from 1790-2013. The records include a name index of headstone inscriptions, courtesy of CanadianHeadstones.com, which is a family history database of records and images from Canada’s cemeteries.”

HISTORICAL PROPERTIES MAP INTERFACE. The state of Delaware in the United States has launched an updated version of its CHRIS (Cultural and Historical Resource Information System) GIS tool. Use this interface to explore houses, districts and National Historic Landmarks in your ancestor’s Delaware neighborhoods. Maybe a place they lived, worked, shopped, worshiped or attended is still standing!

Not sure how to find record sets like these for YOUR family history? Here’s a tip! Use the “numrange” search operator in Google to locate records from a particular time period. Do this by typing the range of years to search (first and last year) into your Google search box, with two periods in between (no spaces). For example, the search “Kingston Penitentiary” 1900..1920 brings up the ledgers mentioned above.

This tip comes to you courtesy of the book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition by Lisa Louise Cooke–the fully-revised 2015 edition that’s packed with strategies that will dramatically improve your ability to find your family history online.

 

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