Amazing Inventors: Thomas Edison & the Electric Light Bulb

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this blog post, Duncan searches old newspapers to learn about Thomas Edison and his invention of the electric light bulb that changed the world.

In the late 1870s, Thomas Alva Edison was attempting to create an affordable, sustainable, and practical incandescent light. Previous light bulbs had been created that were capable of emitting light; however, they burned out within minutes or hours making them impractical for regular use. By the time Edison took up the challenge, he was firmly entrenched in his famous Menlo Park laboratory and the world was abuzz with the possibilities.

photo of Thomas Alva Edison, by Louis Bachrach, c. 1922

Photo: Thomas Alva Edison, by Louis Bachrach, c. 1922. Source: U.S. Library of Congress.

It is hard for us to understand the world they lived in back in the 1870s. No bright lights. Ever. Can it be imagined? There was candlelight and firelight, but no synthetic light. Imagine the bump in the night that needs to be investigated, but you can’t just flip the switch to illuminate the scene. No, you must light a candle and attempt to locate the intruder in the deep shadows of a single flame. There were no flashlights. No headlights on the car. No lit numbers on the clock. Most work had to end once the sun when down.

As Edison worked to illuminate the world, he faced several problems. As mentioned, the filament then used in light bulbs burned out too quickly, and it produced a black film on the inside of the bulb—which dimmed the weak light even more. Others had tried to perfect the light bulb. And they had failed. It just wasn’t possible, they said.

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While we all know that Edison succeeded in his quest, it wasn’t a sure thing at the time. Today school children everywhere know and revere Edison.  But it wasn’t always that way. He wasn’t the only scientist of his age—just one of many working on similar projects. Since many of them had failed with their light bulb experiments, other inventors didn’t think that Edison could do it either. Edison’s lack of a regular education was a particular point of scorn—as shown in this 1879 newspaper article:

The truth is that Mr. Edison, although very successful in discovering improvements in subjects in which he was practically engaged, lacks the knowledge and training which have persuaded the greatest chemists in the world of the inadaptability of electricity for general lighting purposes.

article about Thomas Edison inventing the electric light bulb, New Haven Register newspaper article 16 August 1879

New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 16 August 1879, page 2

Disregarding the naysayers, Edison persevered. At one point, it appeared that a filament made from platinum would last longer. Platinum has a higher resistance to heat than other metals. It also expands and contracts in sync with the glass of the bulb. This promising metal was needed in quantity to run experiments and—if proved successful—to provide enough material for the mass-produced product. However, general consensus maintained that the metal was so rare it was “about to become extinct.”

Edison didn’t give up. He wrote letters to American and British consuls throughout the world and to the scientific community. In his letters, he described the metal, “how and where it was found and might be found, how it could be identified and treated” and so on. He even included a sample of platinum, at his own expense. Encouragingly, he also offered a $20,000 prize.

Edison and Platinum, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 14 August 1901

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 14 August 1901, page 6

And so the race was on. What better way to motivate someone than to offer a cash prize for finding large deposits of platinum, and a steady string of customers for the product once the light bulb was in regular use? And prospectors did find it and mine it in abundance.

Platinum in California, New Haven Register newspaper article 26 July 1879

New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 26 July 1879, page 1

In life, unlike a light bulb, few things happen in a vacuum. So what were some of the after effects of Edison’s venture into crowdsourcing for platinum? Edison’s ever-curious mind saw another business opportunity when he was learning to separate gold from platinum. Using his new method, he was able to take tailings—the “junk” materials discarded in the mining process—and extract the gold. In one ton of tailings that had cost him just $5, he was able to extract $1400 worth of gold. While the amount of gold that could be extracted varied, this was obviously an astonishing discovery.

As this 1880 newspaper article reported:

At the rate of $1400 to the ton…he computes that at the various mines around Oroville “there are at least $50,000,000 in the tailings.”

Edison's Discovery in Gold Mining, Macon Telegraph newspaper article 2 April 1880

Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 2 April 1880, page 2

This is an astonishing sum! To understand his claim, $50 million in 1880 converts into about $1.2 trillion today.

Edison’s use of platinum in light bulbs greatly increased the metal’s value. In 1885, five years after Edison announced the creation of a practical light bulb, platinum’s market value was just $3 to $5 an ounce. Just five years later, its price nearly matched that of gold at $20 per ounce.

A King of Metals -- The Value of Platinum as Affected by Electric Lights, Daily Inter Ocean newspaper article 19 October 1890

Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), 19 October 1890, page 32

Platinum was now being produced in quantity—and other uses were found for it. The ring on your finger may even be made of platinum.

As this 1879 newspaper article reported:

As a result, large quantities of the rare metal were found in various locations. The gravel-heap of a single mine will, it is said, yield more platinum than all the rest of the world does now.

article about Thomas Edison and his use of platinum in electric light bulbs, Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper article 1 October 1879

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, Michigan), 1 October 1879, page 3

Edison proved the naysayers and doubters wrong:

Very few of the many investigators who had studied the subject of electric lighting believed that the experiments [by Edison] would prove important. Edison, it was supposed, had walked into a cul de sac, where others had preceded him and found no thoroughfare. A considerable amount of pity, both here and in England, was wasted on the ingenious man who had gone beyond his depth. Not having been properly educated in early life, he was ignorant, so they said, of the properties of matter.

article about Thomas Edison and his invention of the electric light bulb, Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper article 1 October 1879

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, Michigan), 1 October 1879, page 3

In the end, platinum proved to be essential for the supporting wires to hold the filament, but still burned too quickly to provide a steady light when used as the filament itself. The best material for a filament proved to be carbonized bamboo fiber in a vacuum. Edison made this discovery while examining a bamboo fragment that had peeled off his fishing pole!

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Finding a suitable filament was not the only challenge Edison faced. Along the way, he also had to develop a superior pump to create the vacuum necessary in the bulb, a more powerful generator to produce the electricity, a realistic and safe electric delivery system for electricity, and more. Yet, he met all of these challenges.

Edison wasn’t the only one working on the electric light problem. And he wasn’t the only one to develop a bulb that worked. In England around the same time, Joseph Swan independently created a very similar bulb. In fact, Edison used some of Swan’s ideas as a foundation for his experiments. Swan and Edison later joined forces in the Edison-Swan Company, which then switched from bamboo filaments to cellulose ones.

Edison continued to refine his light bulb throughout the fall of 1879, and by the end of the year he was giving public demonstrations of his marvelous new invention. On 27 January 1880 he was granted U.S. patent 223,898 for his electric light bulb.

photo of the light bulb Thomas Edison used for public demonstrations of his new invention during Christmas week, 1879

Photo: the light bulb Thomas Edison used for public demonstrations of his new invention during Christmas week, 1879. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The genius of Edison comes out in several ways in this story of his perfection of the electric light bulb. He took a project he felt was interesting and worthwhile despite others loudly proclaiming it couldn’t be done—or if it could, it couldn’t be done by him because he lacked the knowledge and training (he was self-educated). He tackled the problem of not having enough of a necessary material by using crowdsourcing and incentives to gather more. While he could have easily worried and worked himself to the bone, he took time to escape from the project and listen to the guru in his head while enjoying the peace of a fishing trip. And it was there that he discovered the solution that was literally a part of his fishing rod. He took a lot of junk and literally turned it into gold. He put in the work and gained the satisfaction of making a lasting contribution to the world.

Historical newspapers (http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/newspapers/) are not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors—they also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in, and the news they talked about and read in their local papers. Did any of your ancestors make an important invention? Please share your stories with us in the comments.

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Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor Propels U.S. into WWII

This Sunday marks the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack against the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 December 1941 that triggered the U.S. entry into World War II.

photo of the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Photo: the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Credit: Victor-ny; Wikimedia Commons.

Speaking to a solemn joint session of Congress on 8 December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made this famous declaration:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

U.S. Declares War on Japan, Bellingham Herald newspaper article 8 December 1941

Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington), 8 December 1941, page 1

Although the Japanese attack was a stunning example of military planning and execution, and resulted in a smashing victory, it was indeed smeared with infamy—for the two nations were not at war, and the attack was completely unprovoked and came with absolutely no warning. In fact, one hour after the attack commenced two Japanese officials met with the U.S. secretary of state in Washington, D.C., to submit a formal reply to an overture made to the Japanese government on November 26 to maintain peace.

article about men enlisting for WWII, Boston Traveler newspaper article 8 December 1941

Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), 8 December 1941, page 1

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The attack on Pearl Harbor dealt a severe blow to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. All eight battleships were damaged and four sunk, 10 other ships were damaged or sunk, over 300 aircraft damaged or destroyed, and more than 2,400 men killed. The Japanese military only lost 29 aircraft, 5 midget submarines, and 64 men killed. It appeared the Japanese had triumphantly achieved their objective of crippling the U.S. fleet so that it could not oppose their expansion in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.

photos of the U.S. reaction to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 8 December 1941

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 8 December 1941, page 12

The Japanese victory was not total, however. Perhaps most importantly, the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s three aircraft carriers were not in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack and escaped harm. Naval warfare in WWII established that the era of the battleship was over; the aircraft carrier ruled supreme, and in that sense the U.S. fleet was very lucky. Also, the Japanese concentrated on attacking warships and aircraft and ignored the support facilities on the shores of Pearl Harbor, essentially leaving that vital military facility intact to help the U.S. Pacific Fleet recover and prepare to carry the war to the Japanese.

Idahoans on Duty with Pacific Fleet, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 8 December 1941

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 8 December 1941, page 2

The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 8 December 1941, the U.S. declared war on Japan. Nazi Germany and Italy, Japan’s allies, then declared war on the U.S. America was now fully engaged in WWII, a contest that would test the strength and resolve of the entire nation for 3½ years before victory was finally won—after the loss of more than 400,000 U.S. military personnel.

obituary for Hal Perry, killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Advocate newspaper article 11 December 1941

Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 11 December 1941, page 1

Historical newspapers (http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/newspapers/) are not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors—they also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in, and the news they talked about and read in their local papers. Were you or any of your family stationed at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941? Please share your stories with us in the comments.

Related Articles about WWII and Pearl Harbor:

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Records Lost in Typhoon Haiyan Are Replaced by Digital Copies

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last year, it destroyed everything in its path including the local civil registration offices containing the area birth, marriage and death records.

According to a recent article in the Deseret News:

“By the time the storm got to Tacloban, there was a storm surge behind it with 10-foot waves that went inland for about two miles,” said Derek B. Dobson, FamilySearch senior program manager for Asia and the Pacific, in describing the Nov. 8, 2013, devastation. “So anything that was right there on the oceanfront just got hammered and devastated by these waves.”

picture of the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, Deseret News newspaper article 14 November 2014

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 14 November 2014

The destruction left in Typhoon Haiyan’s wake was clear and total.

The local governments began the process of rebuilding, setting up offices in tents and mobile homes. Fortunately for these communities, ten years earlier they had worked with FamilySearch to have all of their records digitized.

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From the Deseret News article:

Having digitally captured the records, FamilySearch recently donated copies back to the cities where the records had been copied: Tacloban and the smaller municipalities of Guiuan, Hernani and Marabut, located on the island of Samar.

picture of officials recovering from destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Deseret News newspaper article 14 November 2014

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 14 November 2014

Click here to read the complete story from the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 14 November 2014.

Wow. A clear reminder of how important it is for each of us to make secure backup copies of our own personal family history records, photographs and documents.

Do it now.
Start today to add your family history to online sites. Start scanning and putting your family photos online. Don’t try to do it all at once; set aside time each week and keep at it.

Let us know what you are doing. Share your tips.
We can do this.

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Are You a Descendant of Mayflower Pilgrim John Alden?

The Rev. Bailey Loring (1786-1860) was a descendant of John Alden, who was a crew member on the Mayflower and one of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony. Rev. Loring’s mother was Alethea (Alden) Loring (1744-1820), and her great-grandfather was John Alden, who married Priscilla Mullins.

Family stories and ancestral connections were reported in old newspapers, and GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives are essential for getting the stories of your family history. For example, here is Rev. Bailey Loring’s obituary, which states he is a direct descendant of John Alden.

obituary for Rev. Bailey Loring, Boston Recorder newspaper article 10 May 1860

Boston Recorder (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 May 1860, page 75

A “Shout Out” to the Alden Kindred of America, one of my all-time favorite genealogical organizations and websites: FYI—you’ll want to link this obituary and citation to your website. The “Alden Kindred” is a lineage society open to all descendants of John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden and those interested in the work of the society.

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Are you a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden? Tell us about your familial connection in the comments section.

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Illinois Archives: 357 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Today Illinois celebrates the 196th anniversary of its statehood—the “Prairie State” was admitted into the Union on 3 December 1818 as the 21st state. Featuring Chicago, the nation’s third largest city, Illinois is the 5th most populous state in the country.

photo of downtown Chicago, Illinois

Photo: downtown Chicago, Illinois. Credit: Adrian104; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Illinois, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online Illinois newspaper archives: 357 titles to help you search your family history in the “Land of Lincoln,” providing coverage from 1818 to Today. There are more than 123 million newspaper articles and records in our online IL archives!

Dig deep into the online archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your Illini ancestors in these recent and historical IL newspapers online. Our Illinois newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Illinois Newspaper Archives (1818 – 2010)

Search Illinois Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Illinois newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The IL newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Abingdon, Avon, St. Augustine Argus-Sentinel 4/14/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Addison Addison Press 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Aledo Times Record 3/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Algonquin Algonquin Countryside with News of Lake in the Hills 11/23/2006 – 11/20/2008 Recent Obituaries
Algonquin Algonquin Countryside 1/9/1997 – 11/15/2006 Recent Obituaries
Alton Telegraph 1/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Antioch Review 5/21/1998 – 4/14/2011 Recent Obituaries
Arlington Heights Arlington Heights Post 1/9/1997 – 3/10/2011 Recent Obituaries
Arlington Heights Arlington Heights Journal 1/12/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arlington Heights Daily Herald 3/7/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Augusta Eagle-Scribe 4/14/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Aurora Beacon News 1/1/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Aurora Beacon News, The: Web Edition Articles 3/28/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Barrington Barrington Courier-Review 2/22/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bartlett Bartlett Press 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bartlett Bartlett Examiner 8/10/2011 – 8/14/2013 Recent Obituaries
Batavia Sun, The: Batavia 9/4/2002 – 5/5/2010 Recent Obituaries
Batavia Batavia Republican 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Belleville Belleville News Democrat 1/2/1901 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
Belleville Belleviller Post und Zeitung 1/11/1899 – 1/11/1899 Newspaper Archives
Belleville St. Clair County Journal 11/24/2004 – 8/31/2011 Recent Obituaries
Belleville Belleville News-Democrat 10/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Belleville Belleville News-Democrat: Blogs 5/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Belleville Belleville Journal 10/20/2004 – 8/28/2005 Recent Obituaries
Bensenville Bensenville Press 3/14/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Benton Benton Evening News 2/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berkeley Berkeley Suburban Life 4/14/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berwyn Berwyn Life 1/22/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bloomingdale Bloomingdale Press 1/22/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bloomington Pantagraph 10/1/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bolingbrook Sun, The: Bolingbrook 9/6/2002 – 3/19/2010 Recent Obituaries
Bolingbrook Reporter 2/23/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Braidwood Braidwood Journal 2/1/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Broadview Broadview Suburban Life 3/6/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brookfield Brookfield Suburban Life 2/23/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Buffalo Grove Buffalo Grove Countryside 1/2/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Buffalo Grove Buffalo Grove Journal 12/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burr Ridge Burr Ridge Suburban Life 2/20/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burr Ridge, Darien, Willowbrook Doings 4/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cambridge Cambridge Chronicle 1/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Campton Hills Campton Hills Examiner 2/1/2012 – 7/10/2013 Recent Obituaries
Canton Daily Ledger 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carbondale Southern Illinoisan 6/10/1993 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carmi Carmi Times 10/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carol Stream Carol Stream Press 1/22/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carol Stream Carol Stream Examiner 4/6/2011 – 8/14/2013 Recent Obituaries
Carthage Hancock County Journal-Pilot 6/21/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cary Grove Cary Grove Countryside 8/27/1998 – 3/10/2011 Recent Obituaries
Centralia Centralia Sentinel 5/28/1863 – 5/23/1867 Newspaper Archives
Champaign IlliniHQ 3/25/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Champaign, Urbana News-Gazette 6/2/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Champaign, Urbana News-Gazette, The: Web Edition Articles 2/10/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Charleston Times-Courier 4/13/2004 – 9/24/2011 Recent Obituaries
Chester Randolph County Herald Tribune 4/30/2009 – 10/27/2011 Recent Obituaries
Chicago Daily Inter Ocean 2/15/1874 – 12/31/1896 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Hyde Park Herald 4/29/1882 – 6/23/2010 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Herald 1/1/1890 – 12/31/1891 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Broad Ax 6/29/1899 – 9/10/1927 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Metro News 1/20/1973 – 10/6/1990 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Sunday Times 10/10/1869 – 12/31/1876 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Pomeroy’s Democrat 1/1/1876 – 2/15/1879 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Lucifer, the Light-Bearer 5/8/1896 – 3/4/1903 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Times 11/2/1854 – 7/3/1888 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Inter Ocean 6/5/1879 – 4/21/1891 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Vida Latina 2/21/1952 – 7/21/1963 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Bulletin 9/11/1968 – 12/3/1969 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Vorbote 2/28/1874 – 12/23/1876 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Metropolitan Post 9/10/1938 – 6/3/1939 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Noticia Mundial 8/7/1927 – 2/12/1928 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Bags and Baggage 8/1/1937 – 4/1/1943 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Daily Times 1/16/1855 – 5/2/1856 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago World 1/27/1900 – 6/15/1935 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Liberator 9/3/1905 – 4/15/1906 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Spokesman 1/7/1933 – 3/18/1933 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Courier 10/22/1932 – 11/15/1975 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Second Ward News 12/14/1935 – 4/2/1938 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Illinois Staats-Zeitung 4/21/1898 – 4/21/1898 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Conservator 11/18/1882 – 12/18/1886 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicagoer Freie Presse 2/6/1872 – 7/2/1896 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Black X-Press 6/30/1973 – 6/30/1973 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Post 10/9/1871 – 10/9/1871 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Reminder 1/2/1938 – 1/2/1938 Newspaper Archives
Chicago D. A. Burgerzeitung 12/30/1921 – 12/30/1921 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Illinois Sentinel 11/20/1937 – 11/20/1937 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Sol de Chicago 3/21/1960 – 3/21/1960 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Central South Sider 7/6/1929 – 7/6/1929 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Olivet Baptist Church Herald 11/29/1936 – 11/29/1936 Newspaper Archives
Chicago Chicago Sun-Times: Blogs 2/20/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Defender 4/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Journal 9/30/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Extra 3/25/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Sun-Times: Web Edition Articles 3/26/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Tribune RedEye Edition 10/30/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Hyde Park Herald 1/6/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Crusader 11/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Skyline 12/8/2005 – 12/6/2007 Recent Obituaries
Chicago Daily Southtown 7/31/2004 – 11/17/2007 Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Tribune 1/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Sun-Times 1/1/1986 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chicago Chicago Citizen 11/5/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chillicothe Chillicothe Times-Bulletin 11/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cicero Cicero Life 2/13/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Clarendon Hills Doings 4/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Clarendon Hills Clarendon Hills Suburban Life 3/13/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coal City Coal City Courant 2/1/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Collinsville Collinsville Herald 10/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbia Clarion Journal 10/20/2004 – 8/31/2011 Recent Obituaries
Cook County Booster 12/3/2007 – 1/9/2008 Recent Obituaries
Crystal Lake Northwest Herald 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danville Commercial-News 11/6/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Suburban Life 1/22/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
DeKalb Daily Chronicle 8/16/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Decatur Herald & Review 3/19/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Deerfield Deerfield Review 1/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Des Plaines Edgebrook Times Review 1/16/1997 – 1/24/2008 Recent Obituaries
Des Plaines Des Plaines Times 12/12/1996 – 12/24/2008 Recent Obituaries
Des Plaines Mount Prospect Journal 1/12/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Des Plaines Des Plaines Journal 12/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Des Plaines Rosemont Journal 12/31/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dixon Sauk Valley Newspapers 10/13/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Downers Grove Sun 9/5/2002 – 2/4/2010 Recent Obituaries
Downers Grove Downers Grove Reporter 1/22/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Du Quoin Du Quoin Evening Call 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dupo Cahokia-Dupo Journal 10/20/2004 – 8/31/2005 Recent Obituaries
East Dubuque East Dubuque Register 1/24/2003 – 7/1/2011 Recent Obituaries
East Moline Common Bond 12/12/1974 – 11/16/1978 Newspaper Archives
East St. Louis East St. Louis Journal 10/20/2004 – 8/17/2005 Recent Obituaries
Edgewater News-Star 11/16/2005 – 1/9/2008 Recent Obituaries
Edwardsville Edwardsville Spectator 5/29/1819 – 10/20/1826 Newspaper Archives
Edwardsville Edwardsville Journal 10/20/2004 – 10/8/2008 Recent Obituaries
Edwardsville Edwardsville Intelligencer 7/4/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Effingham Effingham Daily News 9/19/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elburn Elburn Herald 10/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elgin Courier News 7/4/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elgin Courier News: Web Edition Articles 3/27/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elk Grove Elk Grove Times 3/19/1998 – 1/15/2009 Recent Obituaries
Elk Grove Village Elk Grove Journal 1/12/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elmhurst Doings 4/28/2005 – 4/14/2011 Recent Obituaries
Elmhurst Elmhurst Press 1/22/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elmwood Park Elm Leaves 1/1/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Evanston Daily Northwestern 9/23/1910 – 12/4/2000 Newspaper Archives
Evanston Northwestern 1/28/1881 – 5/20/1910 Newspaper Archives
Evanston Tripod 1/1/1871 – 12/17/1880 Newspaper Archives
Evanston Vidette 1/15/1878 – 12/9/1880 Newspaper Archives
Evanston Evanston Review 1/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Evanston Evanston Now 3/10/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flora Clay County Advocate-Press 8/5/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Forest View Forest View Life 2/20/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Franklin Park Franklin Park Herald-Journal 1/1/1997 – 11/8/2006 Recent Obituaries
Franklin Park Franklin Park Herald-Journal with News of North Lake 11/15/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Freeport Deutscher Anzeiger 9/16/1903 – 8/31/1904 Newspaper Archives
Freeport Journal-Standard 12/14/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Galesburg Paper 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Galesburg Register-Mail 1/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Galva Galva News 12/30/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Geneseo Geneseo Republic 12/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Geneva Geneva Republican 2/20/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Geneva Kane County Chronicle 12/10/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Geneva Sun, The: Geneva-Elburn 10/9/2002 – 12/29/2004 Recent Obituaries
Glen Ellyn Glen Ellyn News 2/13/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glen Ellyn Sun, The: Glen Ellyn 12/24/2004 – 5/7/2010 Recent Obituaries
Glencoe Glencoe News 1/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale Heights Glendale Heights Press 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glenview Glenview Announcements 1/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glenview Glenview Journal 1/12/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Granite City Granite City Press-Record 10/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grayslake Grayslake Review 2/13/1997 – 4/14/2011 Recent Obituaries
Grayslake Lake County Suburban Life 11/1/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gurnee Gurnee Review 2/13/1997 – 4/14/2011 Recent Obituaries
Hanover Park Hanover Park Press 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hanover Park Hanover Park Examiner 8/3/2011 – 8/14/2013 Recent Obituaries
Harlem, Irving Times 11/4/2004 – 1/24/2008 Recent Obituaries
Harrisburg Harrisburg Daily Register 11/4/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Harvard Harvard Main Line 1/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
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DNA Shows That Jews Came from the Middle East

This might sound obvious, but this new DNA-driven conclusion is loaded with political impact that will reverberate around the world.

article about DNA tests proving Jews came from the Middle East, Algemeiner, 13 November 2014

Algemeiner, 13 November 2014

FamilyTree DNA’s finding is a clear indicator of the growing sophistication of current DNA technology to predict the ancestral origins and geographic spread of our ancestors. For example, some of this testing showed that one of the largest Jewish ancestral groups—Ashkenazi Jews—“descend from a small group of about 350 individuals who lived between 600 and 800 years ago.” It’s amazing that DNA can be this precise. It will work this way for you too—do it. Sign your family up for DNA testing today.

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Read the full story about the DNA test findings on Algemeiner, 13 November 2014, here: http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/11/13/family-tree-dna-founder-data-proves-jews-came-from-mideast/

Related Articles about Jewish Ancestry & DNA:

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DIY Project: Your Own Holiday Family Advent Calendar

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary uses ideas and graphics from old newspapers to show how you can make your own Advent calendar for this holiday season.

One of the great joys of the holidays is the anticipation of what is to come!

My family celebrates Christmas, and one of my fondest memories is the childish expectation of seeing what is behind each door of the family Advent calendar. Day by day, we’d open a door or window to see what surprise awaited us. This family time was special and gave our parents an opportunity to discuss Christmas with us.

Christmas is only 25 days away, and the first door on the holiday Advent calendar can be opened tonight—so you have time today to make your own Advent calendar!

Many people receive their Advent calendars as gifts, and others elect to purchase them. However, they are very easy to make—so why not try making your own this year? Historical newspapers are a fun place to find a background setting or to locate clipart for the surprises behind each door.

Enter Last Name

Craft Supplies

Your family Advent calendar can be made with easy-to-find household supplies—or for more elaborate designs, these items can be found at a craft store:

  • Poster board, construction or craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Small craft embellishments

Calendar Style

Before starting, pick a style. As this newspaper article from 1972 demonstrates, you could craft poster board into a free-standing triptych reminiscent of a cathedral. Other ideas are to make wall calendars or to strap together construction paper using one page for each day of Advent.

article about Advent calendars, State Times Advocate newspaper article 2 December 1972

State Times Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 2 December 1972, page 13

Newspaper Images

Another idea is to find a traditional picture, either in your own collection or from GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

drawing of a Romanesque-style church in Cleveland, Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper article 28 October 1890

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 28 October 1890, page 8

This church image stems from an 1890 design of a Romanesque church located at the corner of Willson Avenue and Prospect Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Since many early structures are threatened with destruction, this also serves as an opportunity to introduce a history lesson. Follow this link to learn more about Cleveland history:
http://www.clevelandareahistory.com/2011/02/threatened-euclid-avenue-church-of-god.html

article about a Romanesque-style church in Cleveland, Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper article 28 October 1890

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 28 October 1890, page 8

Calendar Images

The choice of images for the Advent calendar is only limited by your imagination. Early newspaper advertisements, and particularly those for toys, are easily found and can be matched to the same year as your image.

toys ad, Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper advertisement 13 December 1890

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, Michigan), 13 December 1890, page 1

Religious and more traditional selections can also be found in the newspaper archives. Search for nativity, bells, creche, manger and other appropriate keywords!

church images, Times-Picayune newspaper article 18 December 1898

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 18 December 1898, page 32

If you have been inspired to make your own holiday Advent calendar, or have fond memories of using one as a child, be sure to let us know in the comments section and share your ideas!

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Ship Records for Genealogy: Newspapers & Passenger Lists

Every family historian wants to know the ship their ancestor came over on and the date that it arrived.

Along with Thanksgiving, tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620.

That trip took 66 days. Remarkably, when my ancestor William Kemp came to America 233 years later that trip still took a long time: 56 days.

Genealogists often can find the date and the name of the ship their ancestor came over on—but is there more to the story?
Is there a way to find out more details about our ancestors?

Yes—we can find the rest of the story and, importantly, pass it down in the family. We can find it in GenealogyBank’s 3 centuries of newspaper archives.

Stories from the Mayflower Voyage

In the case of the Pilgrims coming to America, the old newspapers fill in the story, reporting that the Mayflower voyage was very difficult. The Boston Herald tells us that “halfway across the ocean, the point of no return, the Mayflower ran into the first of ‘many fierce storms.’”

article about the Mayflower's cross-Atlantic trip in 1620, Boston Herald newspaper article 25 November 1970

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 November 1970, page 26

One violent storm at sea cracked and buckled the main beam. The news article reports that the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower were terrified. Luckily they had brought along nails, screws and other items for building homes in the New World, and were able to use a “great iron scrue” to “force the beam back into place.”

Enter Last Name

What about My Ancestor’s Story?

I have always wanted to know exactly when my ancestor William Kemp came to America, and I finally found that date and the name of the ship on the free Internet site CastleGarden.org.

William arrived in America on 21 October 1853, a passenger on the ship Benjamin Adams.

There it is in the ship passenger list: the name of the ship and the date of his arrival!
Done.

With this information, I did a search on FamilySearch and found confirmation.

screenshot of New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891

Source: FamilySearch “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891” https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/275L-W4Z

screenshot of New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891, showing the listing for William Kemp

Source: FamilySearch “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891” https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/275L-W4Z

But, Was There More to William’s Story?

The name of the ship and the arrival date are good to know, but I wanted to find out more about William’s story—and old newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, are a good resource for finding our ancestors’ stories.

Searching GenealogyBank by the name of the ship—not the name of my ancestor—I found this article in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser reporting that the Benjamin Adams left Friday 26 March 1852 on its maiden voyage from Bath, Maine, to Baltimore, Maryland.

shipping news, American and Commercial Daily Advertiser newspaper article 1 April 1852

American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland), 1 April 1852, page 3

Advertisements for “the splendid ship Benjamin Adams” highlighted its comfortable accommodations of 6 to 8 cabins above deck and another 75 to 80 accommodations in steerage below deck.

article about the accomodations on the ship "Benjamin Adams," American and Commercial Daily Advertiser newspaper article 28 April 1852

American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland), 28 April 1852, page 1

Once William Kemp made his decision to emigrate he would have taken a steamship from Ireland to Liverpool, England, arriving at Clarence Dock along the Mersey River in Liverpool.

Liverpool has a series of docks along the banks of the Mersey River. It was one of the major hubs of immigration to America.

According to Liverpool and Emigration in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Information Sheet number 64:

By 1851 it had become the leading emigration port in Europe with 159,840 passengers sailing to North America, as opposed to the second port, Le Havre, [France] with 31,859.

This would have been the scene in mid-19th century Liverpool when William arrived to wait for his ship to America.

painting: “Liverpool Docks from Wapping,” 1870, by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Painting: “Liverpool Docks from Wapping,” 1870, by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893). Source: original is at the Liverpool City Library, Liverpool, England.

The Preparation and Movement of Ships

Here is a newspaper article reporting that the ship Benjamin Adams had moved from the dock and into the Mersey River ready to head outbound—waiting to move up the river with the aid of a tugboat that will direct it safely to the open ocean.

shipping news, Portland Weekly Advertiser newspaper article 13 September 1853

Portland Weekly Advertiser (Portland, Maine), 13 September 1853, page 3

The big day arrived: the Benjamin Adams set sail on 24 August 1853 bound for New York City.

shipping news, Daily Atlas newspaper article 10 September 1853

Daily Atlas (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 September 1853, page 2

Ship Arrival Times

It was announced in the Weekly Herald newspaper that the Benjamin Adams arrived in New York City on 21 October 1853.
They made it.

shipping news, Weekly Herald newspaper article 22 October 1853

Weekly Herald (New York City, New York), 22 October 1853, page 344

News Stories of Trouble at Sea

Newspapers can tell us just how difficult the cross-Atlantic trip was for our ancestors. That Weekly Herald article gave more details on the trip. The voyage took 56 days with 620 passengers on board. The ship was hit by a storm, suffering major damage:

Sept. 10, while laying to under a close reefed topsail in a heavy gale from the NW, lost all three topgallant masts, closed reefed mizzen topsail, foresail, mainsail, stern boat, and received other damage.

The old news article also reported: “Had 15 deaths on the passage.”

A week later the Weekly Herald told us why so many had died.

Great Mortality in Emigrant Ships, Weekly Herald newspaper article 29 October 1853

Weekly Herald (Albany, New York), 29 October 1853, page 350

Cholera was killing passengers on ship after ship:

…it is pretty certain that the disease which carried them off was cholera, that fatal malady which is making such havoc among the shipping in Europe…The sickness on the Benjamin Adams was decidedly cholera.

Cholera was a major problem in England and Europe in the mid-1800s. In 1853-1854 it killed more than 31,000 people in London alone. It would be another year before the pioneering work of John Snow, M.D. (1813-1858) discovered the cause and cure for the repeated cholera epidemics.

The Albany Evening Journal had this report about the arrival of the Benjamin Adams.

article about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Albany Evening Journal newspaper article 22 October 1853

Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York), 22 October 1853, page 2

Passenger Ship Routes

Wait—the Benjamin Adams arrived “from Syria” bringing “a Jerusalem plow and other articles from the Holy Land, for the Crystal Palace at New York”? Notice that it stopped in Boston, Massachusetts, before continuing on to New York City.

When was the ship in Syria?

Enter Last Name

Digging deeper into GenealogyBank’s old newspapers—there it is.

The ship was in Beirut on July 25th before going to Liverpool to pick up William Kemp and the other 619 passengers.

shipping news, Daily Atlas newspaper article 1 September 1853

Daily Atlas (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 September 1853, page 2

The Springfield Republican gave more details.

article about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Springfield Republican newspaper article 25 October 1853

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 25 October 1853, page 2

In addition to the “Arab plough,” the Benjamin Adams brought:

…canes from the banks of the Jordan, branches from the Mount of Olives and cedars of Lebanon, and husks that the “prodigal son” would have eaten if he had had them to eat.

Conclusion

When I began searching for the name of the ship and the date that William Kemp arrived in America, I only knew that William was born in Corradownan, County Cavan, Ireland. I did not know any additional details about William’s cross-Atlantic trip.

Thanks to CastleGarden.org and FamilySearch.org, I learned that he came over on the ship Benjamin Adams and that he arrived in New York City on 21 October 1853.

Those were the basic facts, but it took the old newspapers in GenealogyBank’s deep newspaper archives to fill in the rest of the story. These newspapers gave me the details of how dangerous the trip was, reported that it took an incredible 56 days, provided a description of the ship’s accommodations, and listed the interesting ancient relics it was bringing from Syria to the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations—the World’s Fair—held in 1853 in New York City.

Old documents give us the names, dates and places, but newspapers have the stories that give life to our ancestors and make their experiences memorable and unforgettable.

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How to Create a Family Cookbook to Save Holiday Recipes

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article—just in time for all the Thanksgiving cooking—Gena discusses how to create a family cookbook to showcase all your favorite holiday recipes.

What is your favorite food served during the winter holidays? If you’re like me, you probably have many holiday foods you enjoy and you’ve added to that list over the years. Each December my sister-in-law and her sisters bake dozens and dozens of cookies, some native to the Azores where her family is from. It’s nice to have those baked gifts to look forward to each year. I also have treasured memories of Thanksgivings past when my great-grandmother would make pies and the dinner table would be laden with appetizers. Some of those appetizers we only ate at Thanksgiving. (I must admit I love appetizers almost more than the main meal.)

What are your family holiday food traditions? What recipes have been shared by your family for generations? What new traditions have you started? Do you have photos of holiday family gatherings? The holidays are the perfect time to start compiling and documenting those family recipes and good memories.

1) Define Family Cookbook Format

One great way to preserve that family history is with a family cookbook. You might be thinking that a cookbook is a huge endeavor requiring hundreds of recipes and time to format and compile the information. But a family cookbook can be organized in a variety of ways. At its simplest, each recipe can be printed on a sheet of paper and then all of the pages combined into a 3-ring notebook or provided as a digital file for each family member to print in the manner they see fit. This project can be as large or as small as you wish. Remember that it’s more important that you preserve those family memories than “publishing” the perfect family cookbook.

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2) Gather Family Recipes

How should you gather recipes? Consider emailing family members and requesting their recipes you enjoy, and ask them to include an additional recipe or two that they frequently make. You could also wait until the next family dinner and bring a laptop, tablet, or recipe cards and have each person write out their recipes and memories.

Afraid you won’t have enough recipes to fill up a whole cookbook? What about using old holiday recipes from the newspaper? Choose a time period and a place, or even specific newspapers from the community your family has lived in. The Advanced Search feature for GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives lets you narrow your results by a date, or a date range, and a place. If you are interested in a certain type of recipe, say one for the holiday favorite pumpkin pie, you can also search by the name of the recipe or ingredients.

pumpkin pie recipe, Evening News newspaper article 20 December 1922

Evening News (San Jose, California), 20 December 1922, page 7

Don’t forget to search on your female ancestor’s name or family surnames just in case a family member contributed a recipe to a newspaper food column or won a recipe-related prize.

Tasty Almond Torta, Boston Record American newspaper article 12 July 1964

Boston Record American (Boston, Massachusetts), 12 July 1964, page 13

3) Add a Pinch of Genealogy, a Dash of Photos

Once you have your all your family recipes, enhance your cookbook project. Include genealogical information or photographs. In a family cookbook I own, the compiler made sure to annotate each recipe and include how the recipe provider was related to a common ancestor—a great idea for learning more about distant cousins. Photos of cooking heirlooms could also be added. Consider making a few of the recipes yourself and taking photos of the process. This can be especially meaningful when documenting recipes that the older generation in your family cooks or bakes.

Once you have all of the content for your cookbook, decide how you will finish it. Local office supply stores offer printing and binding services. You can also use an online cookbook publishing company that specializes in printing family and fundraising cookbooks. Printing can get expensive so make sure to look at all your options, and perhaps ask family members to contribute to the cost. Feel free to get creative by doing things like making a scrapbook or just gathering everything and distributing your document on a flash drive or CD. A family blog or website could also be used that would allow family members to access and download just the recipes they are interested in.

Share Your Food Memories

What’s on your family table this holiday season? What are some of the recipes you are looking forward to? Take some time now to record and share those fond food memories so that they are not lost with each generation.

Share some of your holiday food memories with us. Join us on Pinterest and pin your recipe to our board, Old Fashioned Family Recipes. Simply request an invite to post to our shared group board. Not on Pinterest? No problem, share your recipes in the comments below.

Follow Genealogy Bank’s board Old Fashioned Family Recipes on Pinterest.

Related Holiday Recipe Articles & Resources:

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Native American Genealogy: Research Tips & Resources

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary describes a special collection of Native American newspapers, and other online resources to help with your Native American family history research.

One of the challenging quests for family historians is researching indigenous American ancestry.

painting of the Seneca Chief Cornplanter by F. Bartoli, 1796

Painting: Seneca Chief Cornplanter, by F. Bartoli, 1796. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

It would be a genealogist’s dream come true to find documentation in court houses, churches or within tribal records—but alas, that’s often not possible. And when you do find documentation, it may be confusing or inaccurate, as shown in the following examples.

The Name “Refused to Answer”

This discovery came about while researching census records of South Florida. Members of local Native American tribes were asked for their family members’ names. Some, fearing the intent of the census taker, refused to answer—and as a result, “Refused to Answer” was entered as their name.

Enter Last Name

Nicknames

Then there are descriptive nicknames bestowed by non-Native American friends and acquaintances. In all likelihood, they were created in order to overcome hard to pronounce names or complicated spellings.

Ever hear of John Abeel or John O’Bail? These were two appellations given to a Seneca chief known as Cornplanter, but that wasn’t his real birth name. Cornplanter is reportedly a translation of his tribal name, spelled in a variety of ways including Gar-Yan-Wah-Gah or Gaiänt’wak.

obituary for the Seneca Chief Cornplanter, Commercial Advertiser newspaper article 4 March 1837

Commercial Advertiser (New York, New York), 4 March 1837, page 2

Legends May Not Be Legends

Ever hear the expression “to lie like Sam Hyde (or Hide)”? Thought to be a legendary character, Sam was supposedly a Native American chief in New England whose stories grew to the size of an exaggerated “fish” or tall tale. Every time they were exchanged, the claims grew, including in this report from 1806 about an amazingly large squash that was “nothing to Sam Hyde’s Water-Melon.”

article about Sam Hyde, Portsmouth Oracle newspaper article 8 November 1806

Portsmouth Oracle (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), 8 November 1806, page 3

Newspapers, you’ve got to love them! Not only do they repeat regional folklore and legendary tales, but they also serve to disprove them. Take, for example, Sam Hyde’s Wikipedia article, which has a number of inaccuracies. Part of this e-piece reports:

Sam Hide (or Hyde) is a historic or apocryphal character in the folklore of New England, used in the folk saying “to lie like Sam Hide.” There is no record of the death of a Sam Hide in the records of Dedham, Massachusetts, though he is said to have died in 1732…

Should we be surprised that his official death was not recorded in town records? No, because as a member of a tribe, he could not have been considered an official resident. However, GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives prove that Hyde was not the figment of someone’s imagination. He was real, and he died on 5 January 1732 in Dedham.

obituary for Sam Hide, Boston Gazette newspaper article 17 January 1732

Boston Gazette (Boston, Massachusetts), 17 January 1732, page 2

Federal Archives and Records Center

You can also find newspaper articles about resources for researching Native American ancestry, such as this article about the Federal Archives and Records Center at Fort Worth, Texas.

This interesting historical news article reports a wealth of information, including:

The 27,000 cubic feet of permanent records are kept in a huge warehouse building six football fields long, and on row after row of stacks stretching 13 shelves high. They include federal court records from a five-state region, along with documents relating to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the 60 tribes the government moved through Oklahoma at one time or another.

article about the Federal Archives and Records Center, Times-Picayune newspaper article 22 March 1981

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 22 March 1981, page 180

Native American Newspaper Research

So how can historical newspapers guide you along the elusive path of researching Native American Roots?

Enter Last Name

As seen in the above examples, there is information found in newspapers of general interest, particularly for the better known Indians. In addition, we are pleased to report that GenealogyBank is actively building its collection of Native American newspapers.

Currently, these newspaper titles are available:

Other Native American Genealogy Research Resources

  • DNA Studies

If you are curious as to whether you have Native American ancestry, review the information from the American Indian DNA Project (hosted by FamilyTreeDNA).

  • Dawes Commission & Dawes Rolls

A common starting point for researchers is the “Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes,” known as the Dawes Rolls. Organized in 1893, a government commission established a mechanism to enroll residents of the Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma) for government purposes. This serves as a type of census, and although this government compilation does not encompass every person of Native American ancestry, you may be fortunate to find your ancestors in one of the online databases.

  • This Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs website clarifies some common misconceptions about research:

“When people believe they may be of American Indian ancestry, they immediately write or telephone the nearest Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office for information. Many people think that the BIA retrieves genealogical information from a massive national Indian registry or comprehensive computer database. This is not true. Most BIA offices, particularly the central [headquarters, Washington, D.C.] and area [field] offices, do not keep individual Indian records and the BIA does not maintain a national registry. The BIA does not conduct genealogical research for the public.”

  • This National Archives and Records Administration website reports:

“Among the billions of historical records housed at the National Archives throughout the country, researchers can find information relating to American Indians from as early as 1774 through the mid 1990s.”

  • Tribal Genealogy Research Resources

Many tribes maintain their own websites. If you suspect you are of a particular descent, go to the source. Many official tribe websites have lists of genealogy resources such as this page on Cherokee.org. There are also family research services that specialize in specific tribal genealogies such as Cherokee Roots, which can “offer expert assistance in finding your family’s connection to the Cherokee People.”

Related Native American Genealogy Articles & Resources:

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