Family History Episode 28 – Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 2

Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished April 22, 2014

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

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:

  • photographs (engagements, weddings, obituaries, etc)
  • family visits from out of town
  • clues on immigrant arrivals
  • who’s staying at local hotels
  • news on relatives who were missionaries overseas
  • crimes involving relatives as victims, perpetrators, investigators, etc.
  • profiles of jurors
  • family reunions
  • probate items and transcriptions from court cases, like divorces

Here are 12 more tips for researching newspapers and organizing your discoveries:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. There may have been both a morning and afternoon newspaper in some areas. Learn what papers were in town.
  6. 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.
  7. Nowadays with OCR and scanning, you can actually keep a digital copy of the article itself.
  8. Look for ethnic newspapers in the advanced search at the U.S. Newspaper Directory at Chronicling America.
  9. Any mention in a newspaper can point you to other records: court files, immigration and naturalization papers, military documents, cemetery records and more.
  10. Google! See the link below for the updated Google News resource (for historical newspapers).
  11. Newspapers can act as a substitute or supplement for records that have been lost in courthouse fires and floods or other records.
  12. 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.

A few great newspaper research sites:

Chronicling America

Genealogy Bank

Newspapers.com

MyHeritageHow to Find Your Family History in Newspapers

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.

Online Historical Maps: From David Rumsey to the DPLA

Opening pages of rare 1905 Sanborn Map of San Francisco, showing city just before 1906 earthquake. Find the entire map book at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Genealogists rely on historical maps to help us navigate the geography of our ancestors’ lives. One of the most important resources available online is the David Rumsey Map Collection. Well, Rumsey recently announced on his website that he will be making more than 38,000 of his historical maps–everything he’s currently got online–available at the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

I blogged recently about the DPLA, which aims to create an enormous, free digital library we can all access online. It will be great to have the Rumsey map collection searchable on the DPLA so we can search these maps while we look for any other sources on any particular location our ancestors lived. “Maps tell stories that complement texts, images, and other resources found in the growing DPLA library,” says Rumsey. “And the open content policies of my online library fit perfectly with DPLA’s mission to make cultural resources freely available to all.” He applauds what the DPLA is trying to accomplish and even encourages other collectors to donate content.

Rumsey has spent years collecting thousands of old maps  and putting them online. Now he’s working to share them even more widely. His entire collection of about 150,000 maps will eventually be housed at Stanford University. Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the thousands of images we can search on his site or at the DPLA.toolbox kit

Google’s free program Google Earth includes nearly 150 historic maps in the Layers panel.  You can also add historic maps downloaded from Rumsey’s site to Google Earth by using the Overlay feature. My video tutorial series called Google Earth for Genealogy will show you how. You can also get step-by-step instructions in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Or get them all in a discounted bundle.

 

David Rumsey Shares Souvenir Map for Early Airline Passengers

A recent blog post at slate.com caught my eye because it features a map from the genealogists-love-it David Rumsey map collection. But what captured my attention was the story the unfolded behind the foldable map itself. I think you’ll love it!

Blogger Rebecca Onion uses a 1929 souvenir map of the United States to tell the story of early commercial air traffic–specifically the story of the origins

Rumsey TAT map

Rumsey TAT map

of airline giant TWA. Apparently early “transcontinental flights,” as they were advertised, were sight-seeing tours with short flights interspersed by train rides to the next flight location. The map featured in her blog post was a souvenir of one of these passengers, who added his own colorful comments on his experience.

This fun post is part aviation history, part map-lover trivia. The story unfolds even more in a short video documentary on Transcontinental Air Transport I’ve added below. It includes cool aerial shots and more on how the early air transport industry, er, got off the ground.

And don’t forget to use maps (storied or just the plain informational types) in your family history research! These can help you find your way around ancestral hometowns, chart migration routes as they would have and otherwise see the world (literally) in the same ways they did.  David Rumsey’s map collection is one of the best online collections out there, with free access to over 44,000 high-resolution historical maps.

Learn more about how to use the David Rumsey historic map collection in conjunction with Google Earth by watching my free video class Google Earth for Genealogy.

My Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Kit, is a value bundle that includes my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox and Volumes I and II of Google Earth for Genealogy (on video CD). And right now the kit is available for 20% off!

 

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