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More Links

# Thursday, 09 March 2017
9 Timesaving Hacks for Ancestry, FamilySearch & Other Top Genealogy Websites
Posted by Diane

These quick tricks for some of the genealogy websites you use most often will help you get to the records you want faster. You'll find even more genealogy website hacks in the March/April 2017 Family Tree Magazine, our special genealogy websites issue. Contributing editor David A. Fryxell shared these hacks:

Map your family tree locations in MyHeritage.
In the menu on the left side of your MyHeritage home page, select PedigreeMap, and the site generates an interactive world map of events in your online tree. Read more about PedigreeMap in this blog post.

Search GenealogyBank for all newspapers in a city.
Searching the entire site when you really want hits only from one place can flood you with useless results. To search all the newspapers from a single city, click on the state (on the map or text link) on the GenealogyBank home page. You’ll see a page with a map and list of links by city. Select a city, and the next page lets you search all the applicable titles.


See what’s new at your favorite genealogy websites.
It’s good to repeat searches to find recently added records, but annoying to slog through the same matches you’ve already seen. Here's how to check out the latest additions on several sites:

Find free records on Findmypast.
By registering for a guest membership at Findmypast, you can access 850 million free records, including US censuses, US and Canadian public records, family trees and Irish Catholic parish records—without paying a cent. You’ll find the Findmypast freebies listed here.

Review search results faster.

Once you’ve got some search hits on or FamilySearch, you can save time by not clicking through to review every possible result:
  • On your results list, hover your pointer over the blue, underlined collection title (such as “1940 United States Federal Census”). A window pops up showing key data from that record, so you can decide whether to investigate further.

  • On your FamilySearch results list, click in the area below the person's name and database name.

SaveSave | FamilySearch | findmypast | Fold3 | MyHeritage | Newspapers
Thursday, 09 March 2017 13:04:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 01 July 2016
Fascinating Genealogy Finds in Online Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Hi all, our Find Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers weeklong workshop starts July 11! You might know old newspapers are my favorite record type. To show you what kind of fascinating finds you might be missing out on if you're not using digitized online newspapers, here are a few of my recent newspaper discoveries (including on free websites):

This profile of my husband's great-grandfather, then 87 years old (not the man pictured—that's the reporter), is in the Jan. 8, 1960, Buffalo Courier-Express (digitized on the free Old Fulton NY Postcards site). It tells of his early life and career as a bricklayer. He used to haul lime in a wooden cart, stirring it to keep the cart from catching fire.

My paternal grandfather, a star student in a Texas orphanage, was in the papers frequently (due in part, I think, to the superintendent's PR efforts). Several articles, like this one from the Aug. 10, 1919, San Antonio Express, include pictures. My grandfather is on the left and my dad looks just like him. This paper also was free, in the Portal to Texas History.

Before reliable birth and death records, it's difficult to know to look for a child who died at two hours old, but newspapers can clue you in. The Cincinnati Daily Star s free to search from 1875 to 1880 on Chronicling America. (This is the August 5, 1878, edition.)

The Cincinnati Enquirer, available on subscription site, has been a goldmine of information about my local family. This article from April 16, 1894, relates the sudden death of my cousin three times removed.

More saloon trouble: The Aug. 31, 1880, Cincinnati Daily Gazette, available through subscription site GenealogyBank, told of my fourth-great-uncle's troublemaking due to his dissatisfaction with his tab.

There's also the coverage of my third-great-grandparents' divorce, my Federal League baseball player, and other finds I haven't blogged about.

The Find Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers workshop will help you get around online newspaper site frustrations such as locating online newspaper sources in the first place, overcoming poor OCR indexing, finding ancestors with common names, and working with search options on specific websites.

It includes seven video classes you can watch whenever you want during the week (and download to watch later), message board discussions and advice from workshop instructor James M. Beidler.

Register for this valuable workshop today at!

Family Tree University | Newspapers | Research Tips
Friday, 01 July 2016 12:13:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Monday, 11 April 2016
My No. 1 Favorite Genealogy Resource
Posted by Diane

Newspapers! It's newspapers. They're full of details you don't find anywhere else (although sometimes colored by a reporter's perspective). Because our Find Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers webinar is coming up April 21,  I'll let my third-great-grandfather Thomas Frost demonstrate  why I love this resource.

You first heard about Thomas when I blogged about his sensational divorce (a Cincinnati Daily Enquirer newspaper article provided the clue to look for divorce records). On Nov. 19, 1879, two papers detailed the charges, although with different sympathies:

The Cincinnati Daily Enquirer article is at the top and the Cincinnati Daily Star article is below it.

Thomas' life didn't improve from there.

The Daily Enquirer reported March 8, 1881, on his visit with the children in an article titled "A Frosty Day." Mary was  supposed to make herself scarce before he arrived, but instead she hid in the house. She jumped out when Thomas reprimanded one of the children and "made things rather lively ... Cold water, hot water, pokers and any amount of angry words were brought into requisition ... ."

Then things got even more crazy with this March 16, 1882, headline:

It would be thrilling only to a genealogist. (Or maybe a serial killer.) 

It appears my ancestor had taken up with a woman, Mary Bergan, who'd left her husband (or he left her, as the Cincinnati Daily Gazette claimed) and was staying in the European boarding house. The landlady said Thomas told her Bergan was his niece, and he became "desperate" when she was with another man.

On the night in question, Bergan was hanging out with James Murphy, John Collins, and another roomer named Birdie Huston. Thomas waited in the downstairs hallway for the party to leave. Then he leapt from behind the stairs and confronted Murphy. A scuffle ensued and Thomas was cut on the head.

Police detained Bergan, Murphy, Collins and Huston at another lodging house. Collins took the blame for the cutting, with a razor he'd grabbed from Murphy's pocket. 

The Cincinnati Daily Gazette carried some different details, including a gory description of the wound. It was an "ugly-looking" two-inch gash positioned "just back and a little above the left temple." An inch-long fracture was visible in Thomas' skull.

From articles about other relatives, I've learned about a kitchen fire, child's birthday party, barfight, commitment (for one who'd become "violently insane") and other events in their lives that probably wouldn't make the news today. Where court records are missing, newspapers informed about the bootlegging arrest and trial of my great-grandfather (not the one in the Frost line).

In our Find Your Ancestors in Online Newspapers webinar, you'll learn the best websites and techniques to search for articles with this kind of detail about your ancestors.

The webinar is on April 21, and all registrants receive a copy of the presentation slides and access to view the webinar again as often as you want. Find out more about this webinar and sign up at!

Newspapers | Webinars
Monday, 11 April 2016 10:51:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Somebody Stop Me! Finding New York Family History in Newspapers
Posted by Diane

New York was on my mind today because of our upcoming Best New York Genealogy Research Strategies webinar this Thursday, Oct. 22, with New York genealogy expert Jane Wilcox. I added it to my calendar because my husband's dad's family is from the Lockport, NY, area, and Greg has been prodding me to work on his family a little.

Then on Facebook, someone shared a 2013 article about the homegrown website Old Fulton NY Postcards and the man who runs it, Tom Tryniski. The site, which started with old postcards, now has more than 33 million digitized newspaper pages from New York (and even some other states) you can search for free.

This site has been a repeater on our list of 75 Best State Websites for genealogy, but I hadn't tried it until today, when the universe seemed to want me to.

I'm not finished going through all 798 search results (and the unique last name means it's likely a lot of them are relevant), but among my finds were obituaries for Greg's grandfather, great-grandfather and great-uncle; news of the parade when the grandfather returned from serving in World War I; property transfers; so-and-so visiting so-and-so; and more.

Here's the Sept. 22, 1923, obituary for the above-mentioned great-grandfather, Anthony Solly:

This July 9, 1954, Niagara Falls Gazette article reports on an auto accident Greg says his dad used to tell stories about (the other car was the one that ran the stop sign):

If you're researching New York ancestors, our Best New York Genealogy Research Strategies will show you techniques and resources (like the one where I struck gold) you need to know about. The webinar happens Thursday, Oct. 22, at  7 p.m. Eastern (that's 6 Central, 5 Mountain, 4 Pacific). All registrants receive a PDF of the presentation slides and access to view the webinar again (and again).

Visit today to learn more!

Free Databases | Newspapers | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 16:06:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Free Online Search: Digitized Welsh Newspapers
Posted by Diane

The National Library of Wales has updated its free Welsh Newspapers Online website with a new look and 400,000 pages from newspapers published between 1804 and 1919.

The search form lets you type in a name or other search term and select options including:
  • the language of the newspaper (Welsh only or English only, or leave blank for both)
  • a specific newspaper title
  • year range
  • type of article (such as news or family notices)
Your search terms can include Boolean operators such as AND (to find both words you entered), OR (to find either word) or NOT (to exclude articles containing the word you specify).

You also can browse by newspaper title, time period or place, or browse images by type.

This is a page from the Oct. 22, 1864, Aberystwith Observer:

Free Databases | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 16:29:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Beginner Genealogy Tips: Where to Look for Great Ancestor Stories
Posted by Diane

One of my favorite aspects of genealogy is finding a good story. Maybe an ancestor took part in an historical event, clawed his way to economic success, survived an arduous migration or even committed a crime. The kinds of things you might see on an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

If you're getting started in genealogy, you might think there's no excitement in your family tree—but there probably is if you look for it. These are some of the best family story sources (and I'll tell you where they've led me to juicy family history details):
  • Newspapers: Probably like many of you, I never thought my family was particularly newsworthy. But I've found news items including a brief mention of a small kitchen fire in my third-great-grandfather's home, reports on my Federal League baseball player relative's performance on the field, a very complimentary profile of my grandfather after his graduation from an orphanage, and a sordid tale of another third-great-grandfather's stabbing during a fight over a woman (one day I'll blog about that guy).

    Digitized newspaper sites include the free Chronicling America and subscription-based GenealogyBank and Visit your library or state archive to scroll local papers on microfilm.
  • Military pension applications: I haven't yet had the pleasure of paging through a family member's military pension papers, but in our "What's in a Civil War Pension File?" video class, military records expert Diana Crisman Smith explains how you could find correspondence about military service, documentation of marriage, written testimony about wounds received, photos and more.

    Subscription site and have indexes and some record images for Revolutionary War, War of 1812,
    Mexican War and Civil War pensions. Some of the record images are on's sister site Fold3, which requires an additional subscription (your library or local FamilySearch Center may offer free use of and Fold3).

  • Family papers: Diaries, letters, postcards, scrapbooks, photos, baby books and other passed-down items from trunks, closets and attics hold "everyday life" details and stories you won't find anywhere else. Go through your house (and your relatives' houses, if they'll let you) for these home sources and examine them for clues. Once your relatives start to see you as "the family historian," these types of items—which many people don't necessarily want to store, but don't want to throw out either—may very well come knocking on your door. Advice for digitally archiving and preserving these sources is in the book How To Archive Family Keepsakes by Denise Levenick. 
  • Histories: I've found profiles of relatives (including yet another third great-grandfather) and a story about a tornado hitting a relative's farm (a journalist was having dinner with the family when it happened). These secondary sources may contain errors because they're usually based on recollections and were edited for print, but they're full of research clues. Local and county histories are often digitized on Google Books (here's a step-by-step Google Books tutorial you can download from and start using right away), Internet Archive,, (some FamilySearch digitized books are accessible only from a FamilySearch Center) or your library's website. Find print versions through WorldCat and in local libraries. 
  • Censuses: Your basic census records offer clues such as school attendance (1850-on), the value of his property or home (1850-1870 and 1940), whether the household included slaves (1790-1860); how many children a woman had and how many were still living (1900 and 1910); and whether any household members had visual, hearing or other impairments (1840-1910). Don't overlook these columns, which may prompt you to dig for the story behind the number. Free sites with census records include (some search results link to record images on subscription sites) and; and also have census records and images.
    Some federal censuses also were accompanied by special schedules for certain populations, such as "Defective, Dependent and Delinquent" classes (1880) and owners of industry/manufacturing businesses (1810-1820, few of which survive, and 1850-1880). Many of these records are on | census records | court records | FamilySearch | Libraries and Archives | Military records | MyHeritage | Newspapers | Research Tips | saving and sharing family history
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 11:06:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 18 March 2015 Launches Genealogy Website for Searching Irish Newspapers
Posted by Tyler has introduced a new Irish genealogy research site called, which contains searchable digitized pages from 63 newspapers published in Ireland.

The papers come from the Irish Newspaper Archives website, but offers them with a much more user-friendly interface and search. works much like (another site, with mostly US content): You can enter a name or other search terms, then narrow your results to the most relevant dates, places and newspaper titles. You can run a search without subscribing, and the snippet views of your search results often provide enough context to tell whether a particular result might be relevant to your family history (and whether it's worth subscribing). lists its digitized papers here. Use this listing to get an idea whether the site could be useful to you: Choose your ancestral Irish county from the filters on the left to see papers published there and dates covered.

My family rumored to be from County Cork, for example, immigrated to the United States during the 1840s, but the papers published in Cork begin in the late 1800s. Of course, the papers would be a good way to research family who remained in Ireland, if I knew their names. I would first need to identify whom to search for and where they lived. is a separate subscription from, $19.99 per month or $99.99 per year (both auto-renew).

Note that if you have a subscription, you have access to that site's content from 16 newspapers published in Ireland. Some of it overlaps what's on When I ran a search, clicked on a match and entered my email address to begin the registration process, the site reminded me that I already have access to that paper on | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 15:56:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 09 March 2015
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Julie Chen Explores Roots in China
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Sunny Jane Morton serves as our "Who Do You Think You Are?" special correspondent this season. She'll guest blog with highlights and research tips from each episode, including tips on where to find the genealogy records you see on-screen.

Here's Sunny's report on last night's premiere:

"Who Do You Think You Are?" launched its new season yesterday on TLC with a celebrity guest who's built her own career on investigating other people’s stories: Julie Chen, TV personality and CBS producer.
The episode takes us to China for the first time in the show’s history. The story that unfolds about Chen’s grandfather Lou Gaw Tong is “riches-to-rags-to-riches.” He became an emigrant who continued to love his homeland. During World War II, he risked his life smuggling ammunition through Japanese-occupied territory to the Chinese resistance. He was a self-made businessman who started a school in his home village that still thrives today, and that Chen visited.
As Chen discovers, her grandfather’s interest in education reaches back to a generation Julie knew nothing about. I won’t give away everything she learns, for those who want to watch the episode later (on your DVR, in a rerun, or possibly online if the episode becomes available on the show's website). But there are some tender moments as she learns about tough family history. By the end, she leaves China with, she says, “a firmer understanding of who I am today and why I am the way I am.”
Appropriately for a newswoman, Chen’s first real connection to her grandfather’s story is through his obituaries. She learns the name of his home province and village in China, more details about his business, and about his philanthropy. Hints about his "unnatural" troubled childhood intrigue her even more and drive her to search for answers about his entire life.
Newspaper obituaries are often our first window into an ancestor’s life story. It’s most common to find obituaries by the late 1800s and especially the 20th century. These often contain clues that censuses and even vital records may not tell us. You often find biographical and personal details that person was remembered for by loved ones.

FamilySearch's indexing partnership with digitized newspaper site GenealogyBank is making it easier to find online obituaries. The names, death date and other basic details are searchable and indexed at; the full obituary is available with a GenealogyBank subscription. You also can search sites such as subscription-based and the free Chronicling America. Some local libraries have obituary indexes you can search, and even digitized newspapers.
Learn more about newspaper research with our video class, Exploring Digital Newspapers, available in Or grab our Online Newspapers Web Guide and start searching old newspapers right away. See what stories they lead to.
Next week on WDYTYA?: Singer Josh Groban discovers his distant grandfather was a renowned scientist who got the attention of the great Sir Isaac Newton. Tune in on TLC on Sunday, March 15, at 10pm/9pm Central.

You also can follow the show on the TLC website, on Facebook and on Twitter (@WDYTYA).

» Sunny Jane Morton

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Asian roots | Celebrity Roots | Newspapers
Monday, 09 March 2015 09:02:57 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 31 October 2014
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 27-31
Posted by Diane


Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 31 October 2014 11:30:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 27 October 2014
Finding the Baseball Fever in My Family History: Ade Thoss & the Covington Blue Sox
Posted by Diane

One of this summer's genealogy highlights for me was discovering that in 1913, my great-great-granduncle (brother of my great-great-grandfather) Adolph "Ade" Frank Thoss was a professional baseball player for a local team, the Covington (Ky.) Blue Sox.

I have to be honest—I'd never heard of the Blue Sox. But I probably should have. There's even a mural honoring the team on the city's Ohio riverfront.

The Sox were part of baseball's Federal League, an "outlaw" league started in 1913 (no "legal" leagues were allowed to establish a team so close to the Cincinnati Reds, right across the river).

The Federal League played its first season starting in May, 1913. Ade Thoss, who'd played in 1909 and 1910 in the Bluegrass minor league for the Richmond (Ky) Pioneers, was the only local boy on the Sox. Covington quickly built a new ballpark (the tiniest professional ballpark ever built) and threw a parade before the home opener, May 9, when Ade started in right field.

Faces and Places database, Kenton County (Ky.) Public Library

I'd come across the name Thoss (no first name) several times among baseball scores while searching local newspapers, and I had a feeling this had to be a relative. I didn't investigated further, as I was always searching for some other Thoss. But I finally started putting it together when I came across an article in a Richmond, Ky., newspaper mentioning "Mrs. Ad. Thoss, of Covington" sick at the home of her father, "Mr. S. Q. Royce."

I turned my attention to the Adolph Thoss and Jane Royce on my tree, and Ade's page came up when I ran a Google search. The birth and death dates there matched my tree, helping to confirm it was the right Adolph.

And I know genealogists don't accept physical resemblance in a proof argument, but in this baseball card of Ade when he was on the Blue Grass League's Richmond (Ky.) Pioneers in 1909, he totally looks like my Thoss relatives:

American Tobacco Co., University of Louisville Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library

Researching the Covington Blue Sox, I learned there just happened to be a local filmmaker doing a documentary about the team and it would premiere at the library in a few weeks. My mom (Ade's great-grandniece) and I went to see the film, "Our True Blues: The Story of the Covington Blue Sox" (you can watch it on YouTube), for our birthdays, and it was the coolest thing to see our relative called out for hitting a single to drive in the first run on opening day. 

But it turned out that Covington couldn't support a professional baseball team. A string of rainouts worked against them, too. Less than two months after opening day, the Sox moved to Kansas City and became the Packers. Ade Thoss seems to have stayed behind. The next time I find him playing ball is in 1922, when the Blue Grass League's Winchester Dodgers brought back some old-timers.

The Federal League didn't survive beyond 1915, when owners from the other leagues bought out half of its owners.

Ade's part in this area's sports history is a fun chapter to add to my family tree. Did your ancestors play baseball, football, basketball or another sport? The October 2006 Family Tree Magazine has a guide to resources and records that can help you trace athletic ancestors, whether professional, semipro, in school or recreational.

Genealogy fun | Newspapers | Research Tips
Monday, 27 October 2014 14:37:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 02 October 2014
FamilySearch & GenealogyBank Partner to Make Ancestors' Obituaries Easier to Find
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch and subscription newspaper site GenealogyBank have partnered to increase the online searchability of more than 100 million newspaper obituaries containing an estimated billion "records" (names).

The obituaries come from newspapers in all 50 US states and date from 1730 to the present. According to FamilySearch, once the obituaries are indexed, the index will cover about 85 percent of US deaths over the past decade alone. FamilySearch predicts that this obituary database will quickly become one of the most popular databases on

In addition to a date and place of death, obituaries can provide names of survivors and their relationships to the deceased, the deceased's date and place of birth, and information about his life. Even recent obituaries are helpful, especially when trying to find living relatives or birth information on people whose vital records are recent enough to fall under privacy restrictions.

For example, here are some clues in a March 2, 1884, Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for my third-great-granduncle Frank Thoss:

Newspaper obituaries are usually relatively easily indexed with optical character recognition (OCR) software, which automatically "reads" the words in a digitized image and puts them into a database so you can search them with a name, place or other keyword. But OCR has its limitations: It misinterprets words when the image quality isn't optimal (common with digitized newspapers). And it of course doesn't know if a word is a name, place or something else; or if a person named is the deceased, a spouse, child or other relative.

FamilySearch volunteers can create an index that more-accurately captures names and places, and pairs a survivor's name with his relationship to the deceased. This would make the information a lot easier to search.

The partnership announcement didn't give specific details about what FamilySearch and GenealogyBank will contribute, and where you'll be able to access the index and the digitized obituaries. My guess, based on past partnerships, is that FamilySearch volunteers will index obituaries from newspapers on GenealogyBank, and that the index will be searchable on both and GenealogyBank. The index would likely link to GenealogyBank, where subscribers can see an image of the obituary, and visitors to a FamilySearch Center would be able to use the center's computers to access the obituary images for free.

Read more about this effort on the FamilySearch blog.

To help with the indexing, click here.

If you want to start searching for free online obituaries for your ancestors now, check out our Top Free Websites for Obituaries video class.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Industry | Newspapers
Thursday, 02 October 2014 11:11:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 31 July 2014
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Jesse Tyler Ferguson's Black Sheep Ancestor + Old Newspaper Research Tips
Posted by Diane

In last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" Jesse Tyler Ferguson's great-grandfather Jess Uppercue—the father of Ferguson's paternal grandmother, Jessie, with whom he was close—seemed to get into trouble wherever he went.

It started when he was arrested for the murder of an aunt he lived with at age 22. Although he had motive (he stood to gain a tidy sum when she died, having just insisted upon the rewriting of her will), the evidence was circumstantial. The first trial ended in a hung jury; the second, in acquittal.

Uppercue later turns up in Evanston, Ill.; Fargo, ND; St. Louis; and Philadelphia, each time being prosecuted for some money-related charge and managing to evade punishment.

Then, as the promoter for an expedition to the Alaskan Klondike in 1898, he brought so many participants and provisions, and so much mining machinery, that the group couldn't use the rugged trail. The expedition's secretary wrote letters to his hometown paper describing the terrible conditions, one man's death, and the early departure of nearly half the group, including Uppercue.

He again managed to bounce back, named in newspapers as a speaker at political events, and married his third wife, Ferguson's great-grandmother, who was some 30 years younger than he. The couple later divorced and their daughters stayed with their father.

Ferguson worked pretty hard there at the end to see his great-grandfather in a positive light, as someone who survived multiple setbacks and "stepped up" to care for his girls. But from what I saw as a viewer—which admittedly probably isn't as full a picture as Ferguson got—Uppercue just wasn't a good guy.

I do think it's natural to want to believe the best about your own family, especially when your closest link to that person was someone you respected as much as Ferguson did his grandmother.

As you could see in this episode (and as I've found in my own research), newspapers are a good source for tracing ne'er-do-well ancestors. Old newspaper resources include:
  • subscription site , which was used on last night's episode (it's owned by "WDYTYA?" sponsor

  • subscription site GenealogyBank

  • the free Chronicling America, from the Library of Congress

  • newspaper services your local library may offer its patrons (ask at the reference desk or check the website)

  • Real genealogy gems may still be hidden in not-yet-digitized papers. You can search the Chronicling America newspaper directory to find titles of papers published in your ancestor's hometown when he lived there. The directory also tells you the names of libraries and archives that hold the paper on microfilm, microfiche or paper.
A few resources from to help you do genealogy research in newspapers:
If you're dying to watch "Who Do You Think You Are?" but your Wednesdays are busy or you don't have TLC, you can purchase full episodes for $1.99 each or buy the whole season for $12.99 on the show's YouTube channel.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Newspapers | Research Tips
Thursday, 31 July 2014 10:35:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 06 June 2014
Genealogy News Corral, June 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • British technology company brightsolid (part of DC Thomson, which owns has a new game called Family House you can play on your iPhone, iPad or Facebook. Players build and restore a "family house," moving in more family members as they explore their family history. Players even can represent these virtual family members with avatars dressed in period clothing. Download the app from the iTunes store or play it on Facebook.
  • The subscription-based digital archive of The Stars and Stripes, a newspaper published for the American community in Europe, has been updated with WWII-era editions from London (1942-1945) and Northern Ireland (1943-1945). The archive launched in 2008 with papers from 1948 to 1999. Subscriptions range from $4.95 for a one-day pass to $47.40 for one year.
  • Registration has opened for the Foundation for East European Family History Studies' 2014 conference, taking place Aug. 12-15 in Salt Lake City.  The opening reception features Eastern European hors d'oeuvres—yum!—and classes cover German, Russian, Austrian, Polish, Czech, Jewish and other Eastern European ancestry.  See a program and register at the conference website.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Events | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, 06 June 2014 12:57:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 23 May 2014
Genealogy News Corral: May 19-23
Posted by Diane

  • FamilySearch has updated the Civil War record collections at the free and created a landing page with links to them, as well as to wiki articles about researching Civil War records. Civil War collections include service records, Army Register of Enlistments, Confederate pension applications, soldiers' home registers and more.
It's important to note that for some collections, such as Civil War service records, you can search an index on, but the index links to the record image hosted on, where you'll need a subscription to view it.

Civil War | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 23 May 2014 11:53:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Genealogy Clues Your Ancestor Was a Black Sheep
Posted by Diane

One of the folks on this week's "Genealogy Roadshow"—the last one of the season, filmed in Austin, Texas—had a Civil War ancestor who, perhaps suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, shot and killed his wife years after the war. A very sad story.

Such family tree discoveries can be unsettling, even when family rumors hint that something bad happened (as they did for this Genealogy Roadshow guest). On the other hand, genealogists often relish having ancestors who committed less heinous crimes—maybe horse thievery or bootlegging—because that means records to discover.

"Black sheep" are more common than you might think: Investigating our family stories of my great-grandfather's time in prison for bootlegging led me to the unexpected discovery that his wife had filed for divorce and claimed cruel treatment (the case was dismissed).

On the other side of the family, I was completely surprised to discover that my third-great-grandparents were divorced in a sensational case, and a few years later, my third-great-grandfather was stabbed in a knife fight over a woman he'd become obsessed with (I still need to blog about this). 

Here are a few clues that you may have a black sheep ancestor on your hands:
  • Family stories. They aren't always true, as we've seen on "Genealogy Roadshow," but there's often a grain of truth behind the stories.

  • An unexplained disappearance from the family. It could indicate an unrecorded death or migration for work, or it could mean the person deserted the family.

  • Your ancestor is listed in prison on a census. You'll usually see the institution listed at the top of the form, and he may be listed as an "inmate" or a "prisoner." (Not all inmates were in prisons, though: In 1920, my bootlegger's son was an "inmate" in an orphanage. It was just a term for someone who lived in an institution.)

    If you know or suspect your ancestor was imprisoned, you can find some records or indexes online. For federal institutions, check the National Archives' Online Public Access search. For state prisons, check the state archives' website. Also look for prison records you can borrow on microfilm through interlibrary loan.

  • You find newspaper articles about a divorce filing, desertion (wives would sometimes post newspaper ads for missing husbands), arrest, or a court action. I've been unable to find the court records for my great-grandfather's bootlegging trial, so newspaper mentions of it are all I have (so far).

  • You find court records. When I was checking a court index in search of the bootlegging case, I came across an entry showing my great-grandparents as plaintiff and defendant: their divorce case.
Our Research Strategies: Criminal Records download helps you track down court, prison and other records of ancestors who strayed to the wrong side of the law.

The Using Criminal Court Records on-demand webinar with Judy G. Russell delves even deeper into the trial process, what court records it might have generated about your ancestor, and how to find those records.

Watch this week's "Genealogy Roadshow" online here.

court records | Genealogy TV | Newspapers
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 12:58:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 09 October 2013
Free eBook: Finding Ancestors With GenealogyBank
Posted by Diane

I've blogged before about my family history finds in newspapers, including my first "big" one, on GenealogyBank—a 1924 Dallas Morning News article about my grandfather, then a boy in a Texas orphanage. It even had a photo of him.

GenealogyBank is letting us offer a free ebook you can download about how to find your ancestors in records on the site (which is known for its huge newspaper collection, although it also has historical documents and books).

Click here to get your free How to Search ebook.

Genealogy books | Newspapers
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 13:53:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 27 September 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • and the Devon Wills Project have compiled a free index of pre-1858 Devon wills, administrations and inventories. Most of the records indexed here were destroyed during World War II in 1942, according to the site, so "the overall aim of this index is to create a finding-aid to enable the researcher to determine what probate materials were originally recorded." You'll get source information for any surviving documents that match your search.  The Devon Wills Project, 1312-1891 is searchable free at
  • The free records collection has grown by 192 million indexed records and record images from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the United States and Wales. Notable US additions include Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933. See the full list of new and updated collections and click through to search or browse them from the FamilySearch News and Press Blog.
  • Subscription genealogy site has launched an Irish Newspaper Collection of nearly 2 million searchable Irish newspaper articles dating as far back as the early-to-mid 1800s . The papers come from the British Library and include The Belfast Morning News, The Belfast Newsletter, The Cork Examiner, The Dublin Evening Mail, The Freeman’s Journal and The Sligo Champion. The collection is available on and with a World subscription on international sites.

Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Free Databases | International Genealogy | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 27 September 2013 14:29:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 31 July 2013
"Who Do You Think You Are?": Tips to Find the Genealogy Records Christina Applegate Used
Posted by Diane

Last's night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" with Christina Applegate is a good example of how much you can learn even if you start with very little information. All she had to begin her search for her paternal grandmother was her father Robert's birth certificate and his mother's name.

Robert thought he remembered a few other details, such as when his mother died, but those vague memories turned out to be wrong. At one point he even said "I thought I was older."

Yes, I teared up at the end of the show when Robert appeared devastated to learn of the violence in his parents' marriage and his mother's death caused by tuberculosis and alcoholism. And then when Christina comforted him by pointing out how he's had a positive life despite having every reason not to. And again when he left flowers at his mother's grave, knowing she had wanted him buried by her side.

Genealogy can be healing.

Documents consulted in the episode include: 
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates. Almost all states had mandated keeping these by the early-to-mid-20th century. (A few leave marriage records to counties.) They're generally available from state vital records offices, but often access is limited to immediate family for privacy reasons. Download our free chart of statewide vital record-keeping dates from here.
I liked how the archivists helped Applegate examine documents for clues beyond just names and ages. In the 1940 census, for example, they looked at the years of schooling for each household member as well as the months out of work. They put those details into the context of the lingering Great Depression and what that meant for the family.

If you missed the episode, keep an eye on the "Who Do You Think You Are?" website for a link to watch it online.

To find Family Tree Magazine guides and video classes for doing genealogy research in vital records, the census, newspapers and other records, visit You can use the search box at the top of the site or browse the Genealogy Records category.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | census records | court records | Newspapers | Research Tips | Vital Records
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 10:15:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 05 July 2013
Genealogy News Corral, July 1-5
Posted by Diane

  • You can search for Oregon ancestors in the digital archive at Historical Oregon Newspapers. The newspapers come from more than 20 Oregon cities and date between 1848 and 1922. Search all the papers on the home page, or click the Search tab to run an advanced search. You can click a city on the Oregon map to browse papers from there.

    The site is part of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program, and you'll also find these papers digitized on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America website.

FamilySearch | Newspapers
Friday, 05 July 2013 13:27:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 08 February 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • PBS has gathered its African-American history content into one place to help you celebrate Black History Month. Watch programs including Freedom Riders and Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr., take a quiz about miletones in African-American history, get ideas for celebrating the month with kids and more.
  • Know a young genealogist who could use $500 toward genealogy education, plus a free registration to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree? Applications are being accepted for the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant, created to honor the mother of The Family Curator blogger Denise Levenick. It's open to any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months. The recipient must attend the 2013 Jamboree in Burbank, Calif., to receive the award. Application deadline is March 18, 2013, at midnight PST. Learn more here.
  • is giving its registered users the opportunity to watch the BBC show Find My Past, which reveals how ordinary individuals are related to people from significant historical events.  With a free registration, you can watch episodes that first aired during the past 30 days. Thereafter, episodes will be available to the sites subscribing members. Learn more on
Also new in's World subscription is a collection of 200 British newspapers from England, Scotland and Wales from 1700 to 1950.

African-American roots | Genealogy for kids | Genetic Genealogy | MyHeritage | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 08 February 2013 15:04:28 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 07 February 2013
The Virtual Genealogy Conference Sweeps Winner Is ...
Posted by Diane

I'm happy to announce the lucky winner of our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference sweepstakes!

My fellow Ohioan Maureen Buckel from Hartville has won a registration to the conference, taking place Feb. 22-24.

She'll get access to 15 video classes organized into tracks for technology, research strategies and ethnic ancestors; exclusive live chats with our expert instructors; and a message board for conference participants to exchange questions, ideas and surnames.

Congratulations, Maureen! I look forward to "seeing" you at the conference.

Learn more about the Virtual Genealogy Conference, check out the program of classes and chats, and register here. Only two more weeks are left to sign up!

The Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Newspapers
Thursday, 07 February 2013 11:10:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 17 January 2013
Climbing Back into the Genealogy Saddle
Posted by Diane

I’m back here at Family Tree Magazine after being on maternity leave long enough to forget my computer password and have no idea which issue I should start working on.

But I didn’t forget all about genealogy. Monday was our practice day at the sitter with Norah and her big brother, so I used my “me time” to go to the library.

Courtesy of the Kenton County (Kentucky) Public Library’s Northern Kentucky Newspaper Index and Northern Kentucky Genealogy Index (you can search both free online, then email yourself a list of results), I have a long list of newspaper and record look-ups about my maternal relatives. It's been on my to-do list for a shameful length of time.

Since I only had a couple of hours at the library, I prepped by organizing my lookups according to the newspaper and date (for articles) or the church and volume number (for church records). That way I’d be able to find all the articles on one roll of film, then move right on to the next. I also highlighted the most important items so I’d be sure to get to those if time ran short.

Even though I knew where the library is, I checked out the visitor info onlinee (good thing— the regular lot was closed due to construction). I couldn’t find the details about making copies, so I gathered up change and singles just in case. Turns out I should have brought a flash drive for the microfilm reader that makes digital copies. Live and learn. 

The librarian showed me the newspaper and church record microfilm, gave me a refresher on the microfilm readers and changed my dollars for dimes (required to make paper copies). I got all my priority articles and one church record in the two hours. I wrote the newspaper or record title, date, volume number, etc. on each printout.

As a woman on a mission, I only glanced at the rest of the local history collection. Oh, the time I could spend there if I had all day.

Now, I’m reading the newspaper articles and trying to sort out who’s who and how (or whether) they’re all related in this big family full of Josephs, Bernards and Marys. Every time I read in an obituary that the deceased was survived by “a wife and children” or see a married woman identified as “Mrs. Joseph so-and-so,” I want to pull my hair out. Names! I NEED NAMES!

So I’ve still got some work to do. In the mean time, I’m glad to be back with you!

Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers | Research Tips
Thursday, 17 January 2013 11:44:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, 26 October 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 22-26
Posted by Diane

  • The Chronicling America free, searchable database of historic US newspapers, has posted its 5 millionth newspaper page. Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2007 as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, the site digitizes newspapers published between 1836 and 1922. It now has more than 800 newspapers from 25 states. 
  • Old Weather, a joint project from the National Archives and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will have citizen scientists transcribing historic Arctic and worldwide weather data from digitized Navy, Coast Guard, and Revenue Cutter ship deck logs. Digital images of the logbooks will be available on the project's website and on The records offer access to weather data and climate patterns from your ancestor's day, as well as details on US maritime history, military operations and scientific exploration. Learn more about the project and participate at
  • A new volunteer genealogy lookup site called Gen Gathering has announced it's looking for volunteers to do simple lookups for others in their home libraries or nearby repositories or cemeteries. You also can use the site to find volunteers who might be able to do lookups for you.  Learn more on the Gen Gathering website

Got Iowa ancestors? Our Iowa Genealogy Crash Course webinar, happening Tuesday evening, Oct. 30, will help you find their vital records, US and state censuses, land records and more. Learn more about the Iowa Genealogy Crash Course in

Genealogy Apps | Genealogy societies | NARA | Newspapers | Social History
Friday, 26 October 2012 11:30:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [31]
# Friday, 19 October 2012
Genealogy News Corral, Oct. 15-19
Posted by Diane

  • Look for a new blog soon from the Library of Congress: To complement its Civil War in America exhibition, the LOC will debut a new blog in November to chronicle more than 40 folks from the North and South whose lives were affected by the war.

    Posts will use first-person accounts such as diaries, letters and published memoirs. “Bloggers” will include people such as Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, Stonewall Jackson, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant,  Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Keckley, Eugenia Phillips and John F. Chase. You can find the blog starting Nov. 12 at
  • Military records website Fold3 reached a milestone this week when when the site exceeded 100,000,000 images of historical records. Read more about this achievement on the Fold3 blog. The site, which launched in January 2007 as Footnote, has worked with partners including the National Archives, Allen County Public Library, FamilySearch and others to digitize records. purchased the site in 2010 and last year rebranded it

Got Iowa ancestors? Our Iowa Genealogy Crash Course webinar, happening Tuesday evening, Oct. 30, will help you find their vital records, US and state censuses, land records and more. Learn more about the Iowa Genealogy Crash Course in | Civil War | Fold3 | Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, 19 October 2012 15:08:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 01 March 2012
Virtual Conference Preview: Cool Tools for Your Newspaper Research
Posted by Diane

This video clip is a short peek at Lisa Louise Cooke's demo of one of the cool tools she'll show you in her Spring 2012 Virtual Conference class, Three Cool Tools to Help With Your Newspaper Research.

The Virtual Conference, sponsored by Flip-Pal mobile scanner, is next weekend, March 9-11.

You can log in anytime over the weekend to take classes, participate in live chats with genealogy experts, visit the exhibit hall and more. (And there's a swag bag—who doesn't love swag?)

Newspapers are invaluable for getting details about your ancestors' lives and for tracing brick-wall ancestors (case in point: last Friday's "Who Do you think You Are?" with Blair Underwood). But historical newspapers can be hard to find and use—so you'll want to hear about the tools Lisa uses.

Learn more about the Spring 2012 Virtual Conference at

Family Tree University | Newspapers | Videos
Thursday, 01 March 2012 14:20:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 09 February 2012
Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers FTU Course: Just $39.99
Posted by Diane

If you're researching African-American ancestors, we've got a great deal on our Family Tree University course Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers: Research Strategies for Success, with instructor Tim Pinnick.

Thanks to a sponsorship from GenealogyBank, registration in the four-week session starting Feb. 20 is just $39.99 (down from the regular $99.99). So if you've been thinking about taking this course, now's the time.

You can learn more about the class and see the syllabus here. Past students have been surprised at the number of newspapers that have been published in the United States covering African-American communities.

Also check out Tim's Newspapers forum at Afrigeneas, one of our favorite genealogy websites for those tracing African-American roots.

African-American roots | Family Tree University | Newspapers
Thursday, 09 February 2012 10:00:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Wednesday, 04 January 2012
New, Free Online Collection: Indianapolis Recorder African-American Newspaper, 1899-2005
Posted by Diane

More than 5,000 digitized issues of the Indiana-based African-American newspaper Indianapolis Recorder are searchable online at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis library website.

The issues span 1899 to 2005 (those from 1917 to 1925, and January to April 1932, are missing).

You can keyword search the full text or browse by year. An advanced search lets you designate words as exact, exclude words, and run a proximity search to find two words appearing within a certain distance of each other on a newspaper page. (In the advanced search, multiple library collections are selected by default. To search just the Indianapolis Recorder, scroll down, check the box to deselect all the collections, then check the box next to Indianapolis Recorder.)

You can share links to articles via social media or email, or bookmark them in your browser. You can save articles by right-clicking or control-clicking and selecting Save Image As (an alternative would be to take a screenshot).

Click here to start searching the Indianapolis Recorder archives.

Learn more about finding ancestors in African-American newspapers in the Family Tree University course Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers: Research Strategies for Success, taught by Tim Pinnick.

African-American roots | Newspapers
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 11:14:49 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 15 December 2011
$avings Alert: Learn Strategies for Newspaper Research
Posted by Diane

If you haven't taken full advantage of old newspapers for discovering family history—maybe you're unsure how to find out which ones covered your ancestors' hometown or fear you don't have time to scroll through rolls of microfilm—here's a deal for you:

Take our Newspaper Research 101 Family Tree University Course starting Jan. 9 for just $39.99 (the four-week course is usually $99.99). The special rate is made possible by GenealogyBank.

Besides obituaries, newspapers are sources for birth announcements, social column notes and other news stories mentioning your ancestors—even if they weren't prominent community members. 

I still get nostalgic over my first big genealogy find, a 1924 Dallas Morning News article about my grandfather who grew up in an orphanage and was putting himself through college (you can see the article here). I discovered it by chance on GenealogyBank soon after the site launched. 

Newspaper microfilm from the Arkansas state archives helped me fill in details (otherwise absent due to missing court records) about my grandfather's arrest and trial for bootlegging.

In the Newspaper Research 101 course, taught by James M. Beidler, you'll learn:

  • what type of information to look for in newspapers
  • how to find and access papers most likely to mention your kin
  • how to effectively search digital and microfilmed papers

Learn more and take advantage of this once-in-a-blue-moon Newspaper Research 101 tuition on

Family Tree University | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Thursday, 15 December 2011 09:43:07 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 30 September 2011
Geni Introduces Record Match Service
Posted by Diane

Family tree site Geni has launched a service that makes documents from subscription genealogy sites and available to Geni Basic (free), Plus and Pro members through profile-based alerts.

The Record Match service automatically searches the subscription collections of the and GenealogyBank websites when a Geni member views a relative’s Geni profile. If there’s a match, the Geni member gets an alert and a link to the record. To view the record, he or she will need to register for a free trial membership on the partner site, or be a subscriber. recently announced the addition of the entire set of available US census records, 1790 through 1930. GenealogyBank is known for its collection of digitized newspapers.

Geni CEO Noah Tutak hinted that more such record partnerships are in the works: “By providing records from the person’s profile, first with partners and, and with many others to come, we can save genealogists from spending their time conducting separate searches on the many genealogy databases available.”

Read more about Record Match on the Geni blog | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Friday, 30 September 2011 13:51:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Free September Podcast: Tips on PERSI, Old Books, Online Newspapers
Posted by Diane

The newest free Family Tree Magazine Podcast episode with host Lisa Louise Cooke is now available for listening on or through iTunes. 

Here’s what’s on tap for this edition:

  • tips for searching online newspaper collections
  • what PERSI is and why you should use it
  • finding historical books on the web
  • News From the Blogosphere

New to podcasts? Cooke explains here what podcasts are and how to use them

Family Tree Magazine's Podcast

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Genealogy books | Newspapers | Podcasts | Research Tips
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 08:54:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 02 September 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 29-September 2
Posted by Diane

  • The Family History Library (FHL) is starting to roll out online microfilm ordering in the United States and Canada, meaning you soon won’t have to visit a FamilySearch Center to order microfilmed records (you’ll still need to go in person to view them, of course). First, you’ll find the film you need in the FHL online catalog, then you'll order it here. California, the Pacific Northwest and other points West were first to get online ordering, with the rest of us still to be added in phases.
  • UK subscription genealogy site is adding a million 20th-century merchant navy seamen records (Britain’s Merchant Navy Day, is Saturday, Sept. 3). The records name crew members of UK merchant ships from 1918 to 1941, offer physical descriptions and include photos.
  • As an update to our November 2011 online newspapers article, which highlighted the subscription website Paper of Record in addition to other online sources, Rick Crume gave me a heads up about some improvements to the site: First, highlighting of your search terms has been restored on the digitized newspaper pages in your search results. Second, you now have the option to search a broader date range than five years within a single title.

FamilySearch | Genetic Genealogy | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 02 September 2011 10:34:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [11]
# Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Where to Find Historical Newspapers Online
Posted by Diane

I realized how important old newspapers are to genealogy when I stumbled across this 1924 article about my grandfather on GenealogyBank:

What a find! The article has so much "what was he like?" detail that I wouldn't have found elsewhere. So I wanted to share some resources from contributing editor Rick Crume’s November 2011 Family Tree Magazine cover story on researching ancestors in online newspapers. 

In the article, Rick provides a chart with the essentials on 15 large online historical newspaper collections—some free, some by subscription or with society memberships, some available through libraries—including:

He also notes where the sites' collections overlap, and offers some advice on finding other, smaller collections of newspapers:

The November 2011 Family Tree Magazine also has articles on using published family histories, researching English roots, finding cultural and ethnic heritage organizations, tracing ancestors in Chicago and Portland, Ore., using and more. The issue hits newsstands next week, but you can order it now from

For even more help finding ancestors in old newspapers, check out Family Tree University's Newspaper Research 101 class.

Editor's Pick | Family Tree Magazine articles | Newspapers | Research Tips
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 14:47:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 29 July 2011
Genealogy News Corral, July 25-29
Posted by Diane

  • Stanford University has put together a cool visual timeline of US newspaper publication from 1690 to today, using data from the Library of Congress Chronicling America newspaper directory. The map shows where newspapers were published during various years and eras, with different-sized and –colored city or town markers to indicate the number of papers published there and foreign-language newspapers. Click on a marker and the names of papers published there appear below the map.

Here’s more information on our blog about Chronicling America. Genealogy expert Timothy Pinnick recommended the site as a resource for finding African-American newspapers in our February 2011 podcast

  • If you’re escaping the heat inside tonight and wondering what to do, give GeneaBloggers Radio a listen. The weekly Friday night internet radio show, hosted by Thomas MacEntee, starts at 10pm EDT, 9pm CDT, 8pm MDT, and 7pm PDT. Tonight’s episode is about capturing your personal family history. Click here to learn more about it and tune in
  • Traveling to the National Archives in Washington, DC, in September? Look into attending the archives’ genealogy programs on Freedom of Information Act requests (Sept. 6), military records (Sept. 7), census searching strategies (Sept. 10) and more. On Sept. 10 from noon to 4 pm, you can make a 20 minute appointment with an archivist for individual help. See the list of September programs and descriptions here.

Genealogy Events | NARA | Newspapers
Friday, 29 July 2011 09:57:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Friday, 20 May 2011
Google Stops Digitizing Old Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Got some Google news for you  today: First, Google has announced it’s stopping its quest to digitize old newspapers and post them online in the Google News Archive—to the disappointment of genealogists searching the archive for their ancestors’ names. Also, small newspapers lose the Google option for preserving old issues.

Google will continue to support the existing News Archive, so you can still search it. But it won’t add any search enhancements.

This article from the Boston Phoenix has more on what Google’s doing instead

See other sites where you can search online newspapers in this free article, and look for even more help using online newspaper databases in our November 2011 issue. (We’ve also got a Family Tree University course on newspaper research.) 

In other (happier) Google news, now you can get definitions for words in Google Books right then and there. Just select the word and a little pop-up menu gives you options to define it, translate it, or search for it in the book, Google or Wikipedia. You have to be in “Flowing Text” mode for this to work; click here for more details

Friday, 20 May 2011 15:47:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 15 April 2011
Genealogy News Corral, April 11-15
Posted by Diane

From April 10 to 24, digital content provider Gale is celebrating National Library Week by providing free access to several resources. Those include the NewsVault (more than 10 million pages from historical newspapers and periodicals) and Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive (antebellum newspaper articles and books focused on slavery). Usually, you must use Gale databases via libraries that subscribe to them, but you can search the databases directly during this free access period

It’s DNA Day! Today only (Friday, April 15), genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA is offering a promotional code you can use to get a discount on several types of DNA tests. See FamilyTreeDNA’s Facebook page for details.

Family Tree University professor Tim Pinnick sent us a note that he’s moderating the new African-American-American Newspapers forum on the Afrigeneas website. Stop by to ask questions and share your finds from Black newspapers

FamilySearch announced this week that it’s released 500,000 new US county marriage records, as well as records from Costa Rica, England, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Spain, in the Historical Records Search. Click here to see the list of the updated collections. (Look for our guide to the new website in the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine.)

Subscription genealogy site Archives just announced the addition of 3.5 million new US vital records to the website, including the obituary index from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio (also searchable here). Other updated collections come from Texas, Kentucky, Maine, South Carolina, Arizona, South Carolina and Colorado.

iArchives, the records digitization arm of subscription site Footnote, announced plans to collaborate with the Federation of Genealogical Societies to digitize 180,000 War of 1812 pension applications. They’ll eventually be available on Footnote. Read more details on the FGS Voice blog.

FamilySearch | Footnote | Free Databases | Genealogy societies | Genetic Genealogy | Military records | Newspapers
Friday, 15 April 2011 09:52:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 04 March 2011
News Corral: March 4
Posted by jamie

Genealogy has gone prime time. NBC gave "Who Do You Think You Are?" the green light for a third season. "Faces of America" will return to PBS for another season. And on this week's "Top Chef All-Stars," contestants traced their family treed and competed at Ellis Island, cooking up dishes based on their family's heritage. Read more about the genealogy TV trend here.

GenealogyBank is offering a yearly subscription to its newspaper collection for 75 percent off. This offer is good through March 14, and you can learn more on

Family Tree Firsts blogger Nancy Shively discovered her great-grandfather suddenly came into money and lost it all, and she's determined to find out more. Read her full story on

The last living World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, died Sunday. Buckles drove an Army ambulance in France in 1918, after lying about his age to recruiters. He was 110 years old. Read his full story here.

The National Archives at Atlanta will present a Civil War Symposium, a day-long program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The event features scholars and historians from leading archival and academic institutions, as well as an exhibit of 19th century African American newspapers. The symposium is slated for April 16 and costs $20 to attend. Visit NARA's website for more information.

Don't forget about our Ultimate Family History Starter Collection. This multimedia bundle brings you our most invaluable tips, tricks and how-tos to help you jump start your genealogy research. There are only 150 copies of this collection available through the end of March. There's more information in this Genealogy Insider blog post.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Family Tree Firsts | Genealogy Events | Genealogy fun | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Friday, 04 March 2011 15:49:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Tuesday, 22 February 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 3 Recap
Posted by jamie

Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Rosie O'Donnell's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.

Rosie O'Donnell often asked her grandmother about a specific photo hanging in her house, but her grandmother was tight lipped about the woman. O'Donnell knew she was somehow related to her, but didn't know much beyond that. So she began her "Who Do You Think You Are?" journey by researching the mystery woman.

She starts looking in the 1900 census, finding her great-grandparents Michael and Ellen Murtha. The census indicates Michael was born in French Canada and his parents were born in Ireland. O'Donnell steps back father to the 1880, but shows Michael living in Brooklyn with a different woman — his first wife Anna.

This leads O'Donnell to Manhattan, where she finds the death certificate for Anna Murtaugh, a variation of the Murtha surname. The cause of death is listed as an explosion of an oil lamp. O'Donnell searches neighborhood newspapers for write-ups about the incident, discovering Anna was holding her infant daughter during the explosion.

Catholic church baptismal records revealed Anna's daughter to be Elizabeth Murtha, who lived through the accident and eventually had many children and grandchildren. Tracing the line forward, O'Donnell is reunited with Elizabeth's grandchildren, her second cousins. They confirm that the mysterious photo is Elizabeth's mother Anna.

After solving that mystery, she travels to Quebec to search parish records for Anna's husband and O'Donnell's great-grandfather Michael Murtha, listed as Michael Murtaugh in baptismal records. Michael's parents are listed as Andrew Murtaugh and Anne Doyle. O'Donnell searches a local newspaper to find the obituary for Anne, which lists her birthplace as Kildare, Ireland. For more on searching newspapers, see our Finding You Family in Old Newspapers on-demand webinar.

O'Donnell then heads to Ireland to find out more about the Murtaughs. Many people emigrated from Ireland at the height of the potato feminine, and Andrew and Anne were among them.

Searching Poor Law Union minute books for a mention of the family, O'Donnell discovers two men sponsored the Murtaughs passage to Canada. The Poor Law Union only provided assisted immigration for severely impoverished families during the feminine. To qualify for assisted immigration, a family would have to live in a work house for at least a year. For more on tracing your Irish roots, see our Irish heritage research guide.

"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode, and post a comment to be entered to win in our Discover Who You Are sweepstakes!

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Church records | Female ancestors | Newspapers
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 10:48:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 21 January 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • The Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) just unveiled a new website featuring links to ISGS records projects, links to other Illinois resources and a new members-only section. Visitors also will find archived ISGS Newsletters back to 2008, listings of Illinois genealogy events, free databases and more.

Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | Military records | Newspapers | Photos
Friday, 21 January 2011 11:14:59 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 December 2010
Genealogy News Corral Dec. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • Another new database from Library and Archives Canada is Medals, Honours and Awards, containing more than 113,000 references to medal registers, citation cards and records of military awards. It also has digitized images of some medal registers. You can search the database by name, regiment, rank and more; if you find a match, you’ll learn the medal awarded, the related battle or conflict, and a citation for the record containing the information. Because no service files exist for the Canadian military in the 1800s, these records may provide the only proof of service for 19th-century conflicts. 
  • FamilySearch has added nearly four million new digital images—nearly 1.7 million of them indexed—to its historical records collection. The additions include records from South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Guatemala, the Netherlands and the United States. Visit FamilySearch for a list of the collection titles with the new images, and how many of the records are indexed. Unindexed collections aren’t searchable, instead, you’ll need to browse those collections and view the records to find your ancestor’s name.
  • Richard Heaton e-mailed us about his site called Last Chance To Read, a searchable collection of thousands of pages of scarce British and Irish newspapers and other publications, most printed between 1710 and 1870. Once you register for a free account, you can do a search and order PDF copies of articles for about $4.75 via PayPal. See included titles here (scroll down).  
  • RootsMagic released a free update to version 4, version, which update adds several user-requested features and fixes a number of issues. Users may be automatically notified to download the update; if not, open the program and go to Help>Check for Updates or click here.

Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Military records | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 17 December 2010 16:06:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 02 December 2010 Adds Millions of Records
Posted by Diane

Subscription genealogy site has added more than 40 million new digital records and 110 million scanned newspaper pages dating back to 1753.

The new record collections now available on include:

  • 40 million indexed vital records from states including Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and Utah. These represent a 25 percent increase in the site’s US vital records. Information you’ll get varies by state, but generally includes the child’s name, sex, birth date and place, and parents’ names.
  • 110 million newspaper pages from Newspaper Archive, dating back to 1753 and containing billions of indexed names.
  • 300,000 indexed burial records through a partnership with cemetery mapping company Names In Stone. In the search results, users can view burial information and click the View Full Record link to see supplementary fields and a cemetery map on (no additional payment or membership required).

Since its July 2009 launch, users have spent more than 2 million hours on the site and performed 50 million searches. Users can search all records, search by record type (such as marriage) or state, or search by collection name. A subscription costs $39.95 per year; a seven-day free trial is available.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Vital Records
Thursday, 02 December 2010 08:38:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 13 August 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Aug. 9-13
Posted by Diane

The New England Historic Genealogical Society and will hold a Family History Day Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center Boston. The day includes lectures, consultations and document scanning. Attendance costs $38. Learn more and register here.

GenealogyBank has updated more than 1,800 newspapers and added new titles. In addition, the site will add 400,000 digital newspaper pages (11,633 issues from 48 newspapers) in September. You can get a peek at the list on the GenealogyBank blog.

Aug. 14 marks the 75th anniversary of Social Security, the federal program that gave us the Social Security Death Index and the SS-5 (Social Security application). On, you can learn how to access these two great genealogical resources. You also can view the Social Security Administration’s history pages.

Ready to share your family history knowledge? Geneabloggers blogger and High-Definition Genealogy founder Thomas MacEntee has published an e-book called Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speaker that will help you become a more-effective speaker at conferences, society meetings and other venues. You can download it as a PDF for $8.99, or order it in print form for $12.99.

The Genealogy Gems Podcast is among the first 1,000 shows available through the new BlackBerry Podcasts, a free app that lets BlackBerry users (running BlackBerry OS v4.6 or higher) listen to free audio and video. You can get the app at BlackBerry App World.

If you missed NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” this past spring—or you just want to relive the thrill of seeing celebrities do genealogy on prime-time network television—you can watch the reruns Friday nights from Aug. 13 to Sept. 3 at 8/7c on NBC.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Podcasts
Friday, 13 August 2010 12:08:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers
Posted by Diane

The upcoming Family Tree University course Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers will help you use what instructor Tim Pinnick calls a neglected resource to trace your black ancestors.
Pinnick, author of the book Finding and Using African American Newspapers (read chapter 1, Making the Case for Newspaper Research, online as a PDF), emphasizes the importance of using both mainstream “white” newspapers and those written for a primarily African-American audience. Here’s why:
Mainstream newspapers carried a wide range of stories covering the African-American. A considerable number of white newspapers in both the North and South carried columns or special sections of news specifically for black readership. Stories ranged from items about local residents to those on a state or national scale. The Joliet Evening Herald News in April of 1926, for example, ran an article on the awarding of a charter to the first black Boy Scout troop in the city.
Obituaries or stories reporting the deaths of black community members can be found with regularity. Researchers report great success in finding items such as these on their ancestors. In most cases these ancestors have not lived a life of great acclaim, but have merely established themselves as amicable neighbors.
In general, it's not unusual to find obituaries in mainstream newspapers to be more extensive than those in African-American newspapers. I would guess that this is particularly true in cases when the white paper is published in town, while the black newspaper is national in scope and published elsewhere.

A case in point would be the death of African-American Nancy Greenly of Kankakee, Ill., in 1920. Her death notice in the Chicago Defender on January 17 consisted of one paragraph on page 7, compared to front-page coverage of the event in eight rich paragraphs in the Kankakee Daily Republican.
Pinnick recommends the N. W. Ayers & Son’s American Newspaper Annual, digitized on the Library of Congress website, to help you determine what newspapers were published in your ancestors’ area, and even the papers’ political leanings. Pinnick points out that before the Civil War until around the 1930s, elements of the Republican Party championed the rights of African-Americans. Newspapers supporting that party may have been more likely to cover African-Americans in the community.

Finding African-American Ancestors in Newspapers: Research Strategies for Success is a four-week course (one lesson per week) starting Aug. 16.

Click here to see a syllabus and learn more about the instructor.

Click here to register for the class.

African-American roots | Family Tree University | Newspapers | Research Tips
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 11:07:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 16 July 2010
Genealogy News Corral: July 12-16
Posted by Diane

  • has completed its acquisition of, the leading Swedish family history Web site. acquired all shares of Genline for approximately 53 million Swedish kronor, about $7.2 million.
  • also has updated its New Search screen to add maps you can click to browse data collections associated with a state or county, as well as access to your recent searches and recently viewed data collections. To use these features, click the search tab on’s home page (if you see a New Search link in the upper right, be sure to click it—these updates aren’t in the old search). See more details and screen shots on the blog.

  • British subscription site has made it easier for you to find birth records on the site. More than 100 million records were re-indexed.  Now, your search results will be in a list of individual names, rather than a range, so you won’t have to view pages and pages of records in order to find your ancestor. In the advanced search, you can now search records from one or more counties. Search birth records here. Fully indexed marriage and death records should follow later this year.
  • Subscription site has launched 16.3 million Parisian birth, marriage and death records dating from 1700 to 1907. French is the second most common ancestry in Canada. Use these links to access the records:
Paris, France & Vicinity Marriages, 1700-1907
Paris, France & Vicinity Births, 1700-1899
Paris, France & Vicinity Deaths, 1707-1907 | Canadian roots | Genealogy Industry | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 16 July 2010 13:58:26 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 21 May 2010
Genealogy News Corral: May 17-21
Posted by Diane

I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of talking to Vicky and Jen, of the Vicky and Jen podcast, about doing oral history interviews. We talked about questions to ask, tips for drawing out reticent people, ways to get kids involved and more. Listen on iTunes or at

Subscription site GenealogyBank has added newspaper pages from more than 166 titles in 42 states. If you’ve searched the site before, you can use the “Search only New Content” pulldown menu at the bottom of the search form to search only content added in the past one to three months. (Get more tips in our GenealogyBank Web Guide download, available from

FamilySearch announced the recipients of its 2010 FamilySearch Software Awards, which go to developers whose “products and technologies that integrate with FamilySearch’s emerging suite of products and services.” You can see a full list of the winning companies on Dick Eastman’s blog.

If you have an iPad, first, I’m jealous. Second, I came across a photo-editing app called Photogene for iPad that imports photos and lets you adjust color, contrast and levels, crop and apply special effects. Then you can save it and share via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter, if you choose. Here’s  a review.

Have a great weekend!

FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Oral History | Photos | Podcasts
Friday, 21 May 2010 16:35:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Millions of Historical British Newspaper Pages To Be Digitized
Posted by Diane

The British Library and Brightsolid Online Publishing, the company that owns British genealogy subscription site, have formed a partnership to digitize historical newspapers.

More than 4 million of the library’s newspapers will be digitized over the first two years. Over 10 years, up to 40 million pages will be digitized. The papers include 52,000 local, regional and national titles spanning 350 years.

The papers will be available through a new website. “I look forward to announcing the web service resulting from this partnership, which will launch and then steadily grow from next year,” says the library’s chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley.

The digitized papers will be available free on-site at the British Library (it has locations in London and West Yorkshire). The library also will receive digital copies of all scanned materials.

Read the full announcement here.

Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 21 May 2010 10:47:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 06 May 2010
Footnote Newspaper Collection Is Free in May
Posted by Diane

I saw this over at Geneabloggers this morning and wanted to pass it on first thing: Footnote is offering free access to its digitized newspapers collection for the month of May. You’ll need a free basic registration to access search results, then you’ll be able to download articles to your computer.

Take advantage of Footnote’ free newspaper collection offer starting here.

To see a list of available newspaper titles and coverage years, click here and then choose a state. Note that papers for many titles date from the mid- to late-1900s.

To learn more about searching records on Footnote, you can download Family Tree Magazine's Web Guide to Footnote ($4 from

Footnote | Free Databases | Newspapers
Thursday, 06 May 2010 08:17:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Monday, 08 February 2010
GenealogyBank Doubles Newspaper and Records Collection
Posted by Diane

GenealogyBank’s latest new content has brought the size of the historical newspaper and records subscription site to double what it was a year ago. “One year ago we had 174 million articles. Today we have 480 million newspaper articles in 4,300 newspapers,” writes spokesperson Tom Kemp on the GenealogyBank Official blog.

He also includes a partial list of titles and coverage dates. You can find a full list organized by state on Genealogybank

If you’ve searched GenealogyBank’s historical newspapers before, you can used a pull-down menu on the advanced search page to limit your search to content added since December 2009 or January 2010

Get more GenealogyBank search help from our GenealogyBank Web Guide, available as a digital download from

Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Monday, 08 February 2010 10:56:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 29 January 2010
Genealogy News Corral: January 25-29
Posted by Diane

Celebrity Roots | Historic preservation | Newspapers
Friday, 29 January 2010 15:53:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 22 January 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 18-22
Posted by Diane

There was a plethora of genealogy news this week to gather for our Friday roundup:
  • Footnote hinted on its Facebook page about a new Civil Rights-era records collection to launch in February in partnership with Gannett. Get a glimpse here.
  • The free FamilySearch Record Search pilot site has added 25 million new records for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, England, Germany, Guatemala, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States. They include 1920 US census indexes for Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Maine; 1935 and 1945 Florida state censuses; Indiana marriages and more.
  • Subscription site GenealogyBank is adding 280 new African-American newspapers. The first 50 were released this month; see the titles, where they were published and the years of coverage on the GenealogyBank blog.
  • also announced it’s getting rid of its Member Connections feature (note this is different from Member Connect, which was launched last year). It would let you let you enter an ancestor’s name and get a list of members also researching that person, but now you can do pretty much the same thing by searching Public Member Trees.
  • The National Archives in Washington, DC, is holding a public meeting next Friday, Jan. 29, at 10:45 am to discuss how the archives meets the needs of the research community. Get details on the NGS UpFront blog.

African-American roots | | FamilySearch | Footnote | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers
Friday, 22 January 2010 09:45:08 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 02 December 2009
150 Years of the Irish Times Free Through Dec. 14
Posted by Diane

The Irish Times newspaper is celebrating 150 years in publication by letting you access its digital article archive free through December 14.

Got to the Irish Times 150 landing page to get started. Type your search terms into the search box on the right and click Search, or you can click the Browse tab to browse issues by date.

The results list, which you can sort by oldest, newest, or closest match, shows a portion of the beginning of the article (so not necessarily the part containing your search term). Click a match to see the entire article, with your search terms highlighted. You can print the article or download it as a PDF.

Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 12:57:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 13 November 2009
Genealogy News Corral: November 9-13
Posted by Diane

Subscriptions to these publications are included with an NEHGS membership, which starts at $75 per year.
  • Subscription site WorldVitalRecords has added newspaper content from Alaska, California, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin, Mexico and the UK. Click here to see the titles and other details. The papers are accessible with a World Vital Records subscription ($39.96 per year).
  • David Ferriero was sworn in this week as the 10th Archivist of the United States. The new director of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) was formerly the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries, and he’s served in leadership positions at other academic libraries. You can read more about Ferriero on NARA's website.

Free Databases | Genealogy societies | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers
Friday, 13 November 2009 14:04:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 30 October 2009
Genealogy News Corral: October 26-30
Posted by Diane

Here are some genealogy news bits we've rounded up for you this week. Happy Halloween!
  • Familybuilder DNA has added Groups, a feature that let customers collaborate on genetic genealogy research. They’ll be able to create and join groups focusing on commonalities such as haplogroup, national origin, surname, birthplace, etc. read more on

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 30 October 2009 14:48:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 11 September 2009
New Online Database: 19th-Century British Newspapers
Posted by Diane

Gale (a Michigan-based company that creates educational databases), along with The British Library and the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee, has introduced a new online database of 19th-century British newspapers.

British Newspapers, 1800-1900, gives users access to more than 2 million newspaper pages from 49 19th-century national and regional newspapers in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Content from two of the papers is free; other content is accessible with a fee (see below).

You'll get a good look into your ancestors’ world and maybe find genealogical details in articles, property and legal notices, marriage and birth announcements and photographs.

Supplementary resources include timelines and histories of the 49 newspapers.

You can search the full text of the papers by a person’s name or a keyword and link to high-resolution digital images of the pages. You don't have to pay to merely search, and you can click on a thumbnail image in your search results to see a snippet of the article containing your search term.

To download an article, you must purchase a pass. A 24-hour pass (during which you can view up to 100 articles) costs 6.99 pounds (about $12); a seven-day pass (allows 200 article views) costs 9.99 pounds (about $17).

Articles from The Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic are free. When you search, you can check a “display only free content” box that will show you results from just these papers.

Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 11 September 2009 10:50:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 04 September 2009
Searching Microfilmed Newspapers
Posted by Diane

This Federation of Genealogical Societies conference  is the first confab outside Ohio where I’ve been able to research ancestors. As soon as I got to Little Rock Wednesday, I checked into the hotel and ran off to the state archives.

I didn’t have a specific article to find—rather, I wanted any news item about my great-grandfather’s criminal trial for bootlegging. There wasn’t a name index, so I knew I was in for some heavy-duty scrolling. I had the conviction and incarceration dates, but not a date of arrest, so I had several months to cover in 1913.

First thing when I arrived, I got my very own research card. The archivist had me double-check holdings for the newspapers I wanted. I’d neglected to bring singles or a $5 bill for a copy card, so I also ran to the concession and bought a soda to get change.

Next, I requested a couple years’ worth of microfilm and started scrolling. I started with the dates I knew and scrolled backward through earlier papers, then forward, looking for headlines on the faded pages.

Bootlegging arrests filled the news--apparently the sheriff was really cracking down. The few items mentioning my ancestor’s name told when he was arrested, how he filed for a writ of habeas corpus, and how two others arrested at the same time jumped bail.

Though not the play-by-play trial accounts I was hoping for, the articles also gave me a clue to what might’ve happened to his missing court records. He served his prison sentence in Texas and his case is indexed in Bowie County, Texas, records, but a batch of files that includes his case number is missing.

According to the newspaper articles, some witnesses lived on the Arkansas side of Texarkana, and Bowie County officials traveled to the courthouse in Miller County, Ark., for a pretrial motion. So maybe his case file ended up in Arkansas.

Miller County court records for the years I need aren’t on Family History Library microfilm, so I’ll send a request to the circuit court clerk the minute I get home. Fingers crossed.

court records | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers
Friday, 04 September 2009 22:23:56 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 26 August 2009 Database Launches
Posted by Diane

NewsBank, which produces the GenealogyBank newspaper subscription site as well as news services for libraries, has introduced another site called

This subscription site, which you can access from home, lets you search the full text of “thousands of historical newspapers and millions of articles” from US newspapers published between 1800 and 2000.

A subscription costs $99.95 for a year or $19.95 per month.

See a title list sorted by state on the site. The content appears similar to GenealogyBank’s Historical News collection, at least for the 1800-to-2000 time frame.

So what’s different? targets a more-general audience of history buffs and scholars. The announcement of its launch emphasizes how the articles “capture the civic, political, social and cultural events of American life.” You search it by a keyword, date and place of publication.  

GenealogyBank content goes back to 1690, for one thing, and the search places more importance on finding ancestors' names. It also has genealogy-friendly collections including America's Obituaries, the Social Security Death Index and Historical Documents.

GenealogyBank costs $69.95 per year or $19.95 per month. Look for our special pull-out guide to using the site in the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Social History
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 08:34:17 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Playing Heirloom Detective
Posted by Grace

I just finished writing a super-comprehensive article on heirloom preservation for our December issue. We asked our coworkers if they had any particularly interesting heirlooms to show off, and got some great items to photograph for the magazine.

An item we didn't use was very intriguing, though. Kelly wrote:
Let me know if you guys ever do an article on gruesome heirlooms—my family has this shirt that my great-great grandfather was wearing when he was shot and murdered. (Gross! And weird—who keeps that kind of stuff?)
Genealogists do! I wanted more details.
Basically, all I know is my great-great grandfather was a pig farmer who had a farm in Lockville, Ohio. According to the story, my great-great-grandpa turned to go back into the house after refusing to sell land to this guy, and when he did, the guy shot him in the back. Yikes! And that's how my grandpa ended up with a bloody shirt in a trunk in his basement.
All I knew was her grandpa's last name, Boyer, and that the murder took place in Lockville, Ohio. Surely there would have been newspaper articles about the fracas, but I couldn't search GenealogyBank until I had a specific name. I decided to do an old-fashioned Google search, for Lockville Ohio murder.

One of the very first results was a Google Books excerpt of a tome of Ohio penitentiary pardon petitions. Bingo! A John L. Tisdale pleading for clemency after serving eight years for the murder of a George L. Boyer in 1890. With that name, I searched GenealogyBank and found this article in the June 24, 1890, Cleveland Plain Dealer:

It reads:
Murder at Lockville.
LANCASTER, June 23.—[Special.]—George (sic) Tisdale, a farm laborer, shot George L. Boyer, a prominent famrer, at Lockville, this county, this morning. As the two sons of Tisdale were quarreling with a son of Boyer about hogs that had trespassed on Boyer's farm, he came up to protect his son, when Tisdale came out of his house and shot Boyer in the right breast, Boyer dying in five minutes after.
The Google Books result gives a little more insight into Tisdale's side of the story. He says Boyer was "a coarse, passionate man, of cruel heart" and was "a quarrelsome man and possessed a violent temper." (If you were trying to suss out your ancestor's personality, what a find! Read the September 2009 issue for more on ancestral psychoanalysis.)

With a little searching on, I found the Boyer family in the 1880 census:

(Click to enlarge)

And going back, the family appeared in the same spot in every census going back to 1850. Amazing, what one bloody shirt can do for a family's research!

Learn more:

Family Heirlooms | Family Tree Magazine articles | Free Databases | Newspapers
Tuesday, 11 August 2009 10:51:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 10 August 2009
Google Quadruples Historical Newspaper Archive
Posted by Diane

Google announced last week that it has quadrupled its searchable archive of historical news articles, many of which are free to access.

Additions include the Halifax Gazette (dating as far back as 1753, as shown below), Sydney Morning Herald, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Village Voice, the Manila Standard, The Nation (from Thailand) and others.

When you search, you can specify keywords  or phrases (such as an ancestor's name or an event) to include or exclude, provide a date range, and opt to get articles written a particular language or from a certain newspaper.

You also can choose whether to see only articles that are free to access. (For matching articles in subscription-based sites, you'll usually get to see the first few sentences.)

If you do a timeline search, you’ll get a timeline at the top of your results showing the numbers of matching articles by year. Adjust the timeline to see articles from a different time span.

Google doesn't offer the option to download or save articles, but you can generate a link to share the article with friends.

Read more on the Google News Blog and Techcrunch.

Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers
Monday, 10 August 2009 10:54:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Friday, 31 July 2009
Crimes of Your Great-Grandfathers
Posted by Diane

A couple of months ago, when I was editing an article criminal ancestors for the forthcoming November 2009 Family Tree Magazine, I asked Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter readers about murders and other crimes in their family history.

Dozens of you responded with stories—some are fascinating (in a can't-look-away kind of way), some are amusing (in a gallows-humor kind of way) and some are sad. Here's a sampling of them:
  • Carol Clemens' family legend was that her great-grandfather Martin Franchetti was accidentally shot and killed by a stray bullet from a saloon brawl in 1902.
After finding references to seven newspaper articles within a couple of months, she discovered her ancestor was shot during an argument with a former boarder who’d developed a crush on Franchetti’s wife. Clemens says help from the Schenectady County Clerk’s office was invaluable in locating the perpetrator's criminal trial records.
  • Cheri Adams couldn’t find anything about her the family of her great-great-grandmother’s second husband. A Google search brought up a New York Times article stating that the husband, Elijah Godfrey, was killed while handling dynamite in his cabin. Another article revealed that the medical examiner thought it was murder. “It seems Elijah had been speaking with authorities regarding stills in the area," writes Adams, "and undoubtedly due to his loose lips, the owners of the stills took revenge.”
  • Tom Neel of the Ohio Genealogical Society found an account in a 1915 county history about John Gately, his fourth-great-grandfather from North Carolina. “Sometime after the year 1793,” Gately’s father-in-law, thinking the younger man had stolen his money, killed him.
Neel found corroboration in court records while at this year’s National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh, NC. Turns out the aging father-in-law had misplaced his stash.
  • Domenic Parenty, great-grandfather to Janice Gianotti-Zakis, was "gunned down in the street, defending a woman" in Chicago in 1894. In 2002, she confirmed the story in police records from microfiche at Northeastern Illinois University. Now, her ancestor’s case is chronicled on the site Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930.
  • Kathleen Anders wasn’t interested in genealogy when she found a tombstone in a Nebraska cemetery with the names of two young people who died on the same day. On a return trip, the caretaker furnished a file of newspaper clippings: Anders' great-grandfather had taken the lives of his brother and sister-in-law in 1903. Over the next two years, she found the trial transcript and interviewed people who remembered her family.
With the mystery solved, she’s turned to ancestors whose less sensational lives still deserve to be known. “I now focus on the other lines of the family that have, in their own right, great stories to be researched and written about.”
  • Carol Heap’s grandfather Frederick Hirsch, a Nassau County, NY, police officer, was killed in the line of duty May 6, 1931, by a 19-year-old nicknamed "Two Gun Crowley." Crowley was convicted and sent to Sing Sing prison in New York, where he was executed in the electric chair in 1932. Hirsch's wife raised four young children alone; Heap remembers her father saying he really missed having a Dad.
  • Connie Parott received a copy of a relative's 1970s school essay detailing her third-great grandfather's efforts to track down the murderer of his brother Thomas at a Sylamore, Ark., Christmas Eve dance in 1877.

    She found several news articles, “but to my amazement,” she writes, “the stories favored excessive details about the murderer, but nothing about the victim. The murderer had accidentally shot himself in the leg while hiding in the woods. His leg was amputated, so the newspapers had a field day describing a one-legged man hanging from the gallows.”
Forum members also posted stories and tips for researching ancestral crimes here. You'll also find advice in the previously mentioned November 2009 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands Sept. 8.

court records | Family Tree Magazine articles | Newspapers | Social History
Friday, 31 July 2009 15:47:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Find Your Family in Old Newspapers
Posted by Diane

You may remember me mentioning my bootlegging great-grandfather, who was a guest of a Texas penitentiary for nine months before Gov. O.B. Colquitt pardoned him. You also may have read about my struggle to find his trial records.

So I’m pinning my hopes on newspapers. I’ve set aside time during September's Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Little Rock to search Texarkana newspaper microfilm at the Arkansas History Commission (Texarkana straddles the Texas/Arkansas border).

I created a list of titles to check using the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America newspaper directory.

Your ancestor didn’t have to be the subject of a criminal trial or gubernatorial pardon to make the news. Newspapers also reported on births, marriages and deaths ; graduations; townspeople’s comings and goings; local gossip; local clubs and organizations; businesses, events and more.

As Web sites increasingly focusing on digitizing old newspapers, it’s the perfect time for our next Webinar on Finding Your Family in Old Newspapers.

Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems will show you what’s in old newspapers, how to identify which ones may have information on your ancestors, and all the tips and tricks for finding and searching newspapers online.

The webinar is July 29 at 7 p.m. EDT, and costs $29.99. Your registration includes access to a recording of the presentation and copies of the slides. Learn more and sign up on

Newspapers | Webinars
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 14:36:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 10 July 2009
Genealogy News Corral: July 6-10
Posted by Diane

Some of the genealogy news bits we rounded up this week:
  • The Genealogy Guys will record their podcast before a live audience at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. The audience will get to submit questions for possible inclusion in the podcast. The conference is Sept. 2 to 5 in Little Rock, Ark.; the podcast recording is 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. Look for location information at the conference.

  • Geni is offering a free two-week trial of its Geni Pro premium service, which includes more stats, matches and member collaboration than the free basic service. (Geni Pro subscriptions are normally $4.95 per month.)

  •’s subscription-based Canadian site,, has added French Deaths by Guillotine 1792-1796, with 13,000 names of French citizens executed during the Reign of Terror. The names come from a book written in 1796 by a French journalist.
  • ProQuest, the creator of the HeritageQuest genealogy service, ProQuest Historical Newspapers and other databases for libraries, is working on a new search platform that’ll make I easier to find information related to your genealogy search. Expected launch is 2010.
The company is also adding Boston’s Jewish Advocate (1905 to 1990), Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent (1887 to 1990) and the Detroit Free Press to Proquest Historical Newspapers.

Genealogy Web Sites | Genetic Genealogy | Newspapers | Podcasts | Social Networking
Friday, 10 July 2009 16:08:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 02 July 2009
Genealogy News Corral: June 29 to July 2
Posted by Diane

This week’s news roundup is coming at you a day early, but it's still chock-full:
  • The Generations Network, parent company of, has a poignant new ad campaign you’ll probably catch on some media or other (if you’re worried you’ll miss it, see it on’s YouTube channel). 
  • also has developed an Ancient Ancestry Finder that guesses your haplogroup (ancestral origins) based on a few questions. It’s fun, and the haplogroups have cute names such as "Boatbuilders" and "Inventors," but keep in mind it's not necessarily accurate. At the end, you get a pitch to buy a $79 DNA test to determine if the Finder is correct.
  • If you’ve been thinking of trying the databases at, now might be the time. The New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering $15 off new memberships during July.
  • This week, FamilySearch enhanced its free Record Search Pilot with 12 new collections, which have records from Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Netherlands, and Spain. New United States collections were added for Delaware, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Utah.
International indexing projects now underway involve records from the Czech Republic; Baden, Germany; and South Africa—click here if you’re interested in volunteering.
  • The Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC) at the Houston Public Library's downtown Julia Ideson Building is changing its research hours during a renovation. Now through Aug. 31, HMRC is open Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, it'll be open by appointment—call (832) 393-1313 to make one. | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers
Thursday, 02 July 2009 11:18:55 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 01 July 2009
Footnote, Gannett Kick Off Partnership With 60s Flashbacks
Posted by Diane

Subscription historical records site Footnote struck a deal to digitize newspapers from Gannett Co., the largest newspaper publisher in the United States with 84 dailies including USA Today.

With the upcoming 40th anniversaries of the Apollo moon landing July 16 and the Woodstock music festival August 15-18, Footnote started with newspapers covering these events—Florida Today and New York’s Poughkeepsie Journal.

You can relive these two landmark events free (or experience them for the first time) at Footnote’s Moon Landing and Woodstock pages.

Footnote will continue to digitize the full run of these and other Gannett newspapers.

Footnote | Genealogy Web Sites | Newspapers | Social History
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 15:02:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 25 June 2009
Free: Search Louisiana Obituary Index 1804-1972
Posted by Diane

The Louisiana Biography and Obituary Index is now online at the New Orleans Public Library Web site.

The database has references to obituaries and death notices published in New Orleans newspapers from 1804 to 1972, and biographical information from older Louisiana biography collections.

You can use three options to find a name in the database:
  • Use the basic search form (below) to search by surname, first and middle names, and the death date. You can use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard at the beginning or end of a name. A Browse button by each field lets you select from an alphabetical listing of all available terms for that field. The Search button is at the bottom of the form.

  • Click the Advanced Search link to add age, birth date, cause of death and other terms.
  • At the bottom of the basic search form, click a letter of the alphabet to browse entries for surnames beginning with that letter. (I wasn’t able to get any of these surname listings to load.)
Matches give you the publication name, date and page number where you can find the original obituary or biographical information. Click Ordering Obituaries for instructions on requesting the item (the cost is $2 per item).

The index is from the New Orleans Public Library's card file of more than 650,000 names. Putting it online was a nearly-10-year endeavor of the library and the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Free Databases | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers | Vital Records
Thursday, 25 June 2009 13:55:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]