Newspapers, we use them for all sorts of reasons. My wife will read the obituaries before she reads anything else. I like the comics the best. We both like to look for garage and estate sales. The daily paper is a good source of what events are coming up in the community , and of course for both local and national news. However, once read a newspaper has little use and is quickly tossed in the recycling bin.
A day old paper is stale and of little use. So what use would be a paper that’s 25 years old, or 50 years old, or even a 100 years old? Plenty if you happen to be a genealogist.
The newspaper clipping shown at the top is of Robert Lyon, my wife’s father. This is a great picture of him at work. This clipping was discovered by doing research in old newspapers. We all look for obituaries, weddings, and birth announcements in newspapers. But that leaves out so many news items that we can find our ancestors in. Here are just some of the items that we are missing in our research. Business news is one. Many of our ancestors were in business for themselves. They need not be an attorney like my father-law pictured above. Many were shop owners, farmers, bankers, clergy, blacksmiths, auto sales and repair, restaurant owners, and the list could go on and on. Most papers covered school news as in sports and academic achievements. Church news was also covered in detail in most towns. Not too many years ago you could find a society or gossip page in every newspaper. They would cover anything from a dance, to who had visitors from out of town. In fact, I was able to learn about the existence of some ancestors by finding their names in these articles. Lets face it our ancestors were human just like us. So do not over look reports of accidents, disputes, and crime. Here is one I found regarding my Mother. I was very surprised to learn about this.
PLATTSBURGH PRESS_REPUBLICAN, PLATTSBURGH< N.Y._ MONDAY, MARCH 31, 1952
GIRL, 7, RUNS INTO CAR,
RUN OVER BY ANOTHER
A six-year-old Keeseviile girl who
ran into the side of an automobile
and in turn was run over by another
car is in serious condition at
the Champlain Valley Hospital.
Patricia Ann McDonough, daughter
of Mr. arid Mrs. Matthew McDonough,
suffered a fracture of her
right leg,- possible Internal injuries
and shock when, according to state
police, she ran into the side of an
automobile driven by Veronica
Moore, 27, of 7 Battery Street, was
knocked to the pavement and struck
by a car driven by Hormidas Rous-
reau, 52 of 119 Portland Avenue,
The accident occurred at the
junction of Routes 9 and 22 at
Keeseviile shortly after two o’clock
yesterday afternoon. Trooper R. E.
Donnelly of the state police substation
at Keeseviile investigated.
We have many ways to get this type of information without ever leaving our homes. We have many paid subscription sites that we could use. All you have to do is pick where you wish to search and put in your ancestor’s name and sit back and watch all those great newspaper articles appear on your computer screen. I belong to Genealogy Bank and Newspapers.com., both have their strengths and weaknesses. There are many more fee base sites for you to use. The good news is that you have many free newspaper sites that have digitized local, regional and state wide newspapers. To help you find some of these you may want to consult with one of these web sites. The first is the Rural West Initiative at Stanford University. You can go on line for this at:
Another good site would be Chronicling America, which you can find at: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
I will warn you now these sites will have you hooked and you will find that you can spend hours just looking over their collections and information. Perhaps the best way to find out about far away newspapers is to telephone that area’s local library. The reference librarian, most of the time can give you information on the local newspapers and if they have been digitized. Also for a small fee or many times for free they will copy a news article and send it to you. However, you should know the date and which paper the article is in.
As you can see not only are you able to get interesting stories about your ancestors but you are able to gather facts at the same time. Just from that article regarding my mother you are able to learn her address and approximant year of birth. You also have learned the name of a local hospital. This is information we all can use in our genealogy endeavors. I hope I have given you some fresh ideas in your genealogy efforts. I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.