ANNOUNCEMENT! Posts for the next two weeks will be brief with genealogy tips only. When the blogger (Oct 28) returns we will go back to our standard format. As they say: “Don’t go away. We’ll be right back!”
Genealogy tip for today: Newspapers
We have touched on newspapers every now and then but haven’t really talked about them.
Newspapers are important and have their place. But they don’t necessarily prove anything. But they are good for supporting evidence and can sometimes be used as substitutes. Important to remember – with any document for that matter – the information is only as good as the person reporting it, or recording it. Human involvement can mean human error, even with those official documents. But maybe we’ll talk about that another time.
What are some of the things you can find in a newspaper? A lot of it depends on where the paper is, how big it is and what time period it is in. Early papers or papers in small towns can sometimes be the most helpful. They often look for any kind of news to put in the paper so they can fill it up.
I grew up in a small town in northwest Arkansas. Our local paper often would tell of when Mr. and Mrs. Jones entertained guess from another town. Or Mary Sue came home from college to visit her folks, Mr. and Mrs. Smothers this past weekend. It printed any kind of familial tidbit.
I kid you not – a friend of mine got a chuckle reading our paper one time where it said that Mr. Farmer’s Heifer had her first calf last week. It was a beautiful red bull. He can’t wait till he can take it to market. Our friend was so amused that such a trivial thing would be in the paper.
Your local small town papers can sometimes be your best friend. It will give you that color you may be looking for to tell about your ancestor. You know, more than just the B, M, & D dates.
Stop and think for a minute – what are just the things of anyone’s daily life? You might find it in the paper. Here is a list of items that might get your mental juices going:
Wedding, engagement announcements
Church Revivals (maybe the preacher was your Uncle, - or Aunt!)…
Police and Court Reports
Crime stories, (you can sometimes find more information about family if there is a black sheep in the fold.)
Politics (if your family was involved)
Fraternal and Sorority events
Balls, dance recitals
I could go on and on…
My grandfather got his picture in the paper back in the 40’s because he donated a calf. She was to be sent to Europe so children could have milk! This was a project his church was doing.
Another time my family was in the paper when my same grandfather's farm burned (Dec, 1953). It was due to a gas explosion and even the reflection from the fire was seen 60 miles away. It was notorious and even referred to decades later when a second gas-explosion fire took place in that local area.
So if you are ever looking at newspapers for obits (the most common quest) check out the other pages, too. You never know when someone in your family may pop up someplace else besides the dead man’s column! J It may give you just that maiden name you were looking for, or that added touch of spice to your family’s story.
If any of these posts are helpful drop us a line in the comments section below. We just want to know if the information we provide to you is helpful in anyway.
Now You Know!