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Friday, January 24, 2014

I have over 46 newspaper articles on one ancestor

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First of all, I would say, newspaper research can be very time consuming.  It is not for the faint of heart.  It takes more than a few attempts at obituary indices to find real success.  I have literally collected droves of newspaper articles on family members.  I love newspaper articles because they fill in so many details that have been lost to our memories.  During times when I thought there may not even be one solitary piece of evidence of an ancestor's life, I have been brought to my knees so to speak, turning the microfilm reader page by page in a desperate search.

I have noticed that most of the newspapers I need to access either have not been digitized; others I have free home access to through my local library.  So, I either need to physically sit in the library until my eyes blur, or I stay up for hours at night searching. I find have more success when it is quiet, and I am not distracted.  Hence there have been many times I have wanted to turn and nudge my sleeping husband out of the desire to have company while I celebrate.  That is a hard one to resist. Poor husband!  

Obituary indices are a good way to get your feet wet and build confidence in newspapers.  If you delve deeper though, you learn so much more.  I have actually pieced together the whereabouts of a few of my ancestors year by year in between the censuses, and I have not even exhausted all the available issues in two different papers, The State, and The Palmetto Leader published in one area where they were living.

Those of you who have African ancestry, do not assume that only African American newspapers documented your family.  I have found just as many articles mentioning my ancestors in The State paper in the 1920's to 1950's as I have found in The Palmetto Leader, an African American newspaper.  I would not have found so many articles had I not decided to look beyond the obituary index and search each page of each issue.

I have documented
  • employment
  • school events
  • church activities
  • sale of farm equipment
  • residential addresses
  • and more!
Historic newspapers are so much fun to look through because you find so much more detail about people and events that took place.  I have learned so much about my great grandfather, Lafayette Franklin Vance (1861-1952).  I have found him mentioned in over 46 articles from 1926 to 1952! When I hold those photo copies, they feel like pure gold!
Newspaper findings, Robin Foster.

I love this one line in an August 25, 1928 article that appeared in The Palmetto Leader:

"The Presiding Elder Dr. L. F. Vance was very fatherly in his disposition and wise in his counsels."

I am certain he would have been someone that I would have been very fond of judging from the descriptions that appear in the articles I have discovered so far.  This just makes me want to continue the search even more! 

I published the article above entitled, Ten tips for more success with newspaper research.  I have had so much success learning about my family from historic newspapers.  Be sure to enter your e-mail above to receive the next article on Saving Stories!


3 comments:

  1. Fantastic article, Robin! I too have learned many things about my family through newspaper articles. Love your Ten Tips! Number four is particularly important. I knew a relative lived in one place and had narrowed my newspaper search to that city, but when I searched surrounding states, I found him in several places because of his job. Newspapers are a wonder! And we have access to so many of them so easily.
    ~ Regina :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Regina! I am so amazed with all of the newspaper databases going online giving us yet another way to learn our ancestor's story! I have not had to do microfilm in a while. This particular paper is still only on microfilm though.

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