There comes a time when you think you have found pretty much everything there is to find and you start hitting those “brick walls”. That’s the way I have felt during the last 10 years, so I discovered another approach that added a large amount of new information to my existing family.
Gradually I started looking for local Historical Clubs/Societies or Museums in the communities where my family lived. Just a simple Google search is all it took. They don’t have massive collections like Ancestry or Footnote, but they sometimes produce a few surprises like tombstone and cemetery transcriptions.
One in particular caught my eye when their web site announced that they had just received a grant that would enable them to scan old copies the local newspaper. They decided NOT to sell their project to any major company but instead decided to keep it locally and share in on the Internet. The years were 1895 to 1930 and the news of the day included both sets of my grandparents and both parents and their siblings when they were children!
It’s hard to believe, but in almost every issue of the newspaper the families were mentioned in the gossip columns, personals, events, advertisements and other happenings in the community. I spent several months just downloading, saving and reading the newspapers, eventually printing everything I found which filled a notebook.
So, did I learn anything new? Here’s a sample:
My Uncle and my Grandfather were thrown off a trolley car on a curve but not seriously hurt! Two other family members were seriously hurt in the collapse of outfield bleachers at a Philadelphia Phillies Baseball game where some dozen others lost their lives! The true reason my great-Aunt’s daughter died – it was a suicide! Everytime a family just visited another family, it was mentioned in the paper! One G-Grandfather had the first telephone. Another had 5 or 6 US Patents – one being for a “corn scraper” which probably explains why our family always placed a “corn scraper” in the table setting. My Mother was often quite sick as a child!
Yes, they reported EVERYTHING. And on and on it went – stories I had never heard.
So what’s next? My brother and I plan to take all the tibits and short articles and notices and compile them into a running true life narrative or story. We have enough information to make it rather interesting.
Never assume that a local archive, library or historical group is not worth pursuing. They can be a treasure trove of new information.
You might actually call the local library and ask if old copies of their local newspaper have ever been scanned – if yes, then ask if you can view them on microfilm or the Internet. My guess is that many will be found on GenealogyBank.com or NewspaperArchive.com or even their parent company NewsBank.com. These are usually offered through libraries if you have a library card.