I can’t find my ancestor – what am I doing wrong?

For most searches on GenealogyBank it is easy to find your ancestor. You type in their name and in an instant you spot them in the search results list.

So – what do you do when your ancestor’s name doesn’t come right up in the search hits?
Just like any other genealogical resource you need to step back and see what your options are and try various ways to search on the site.

Consider your search strategy.
1. Sometimes less is more.
Be careful how you type in your ancestor’s name.
His full name might have been: Willard Jacob Teskey …. but the newspaper article may have simply called him:

Willard Teskey
Willard J. Teskey
W.J. Teskey
Bill Teskey
or only: Teskey

Try typing in variations of the person’s name.
I have found that typing in only the surname can quickly get you the best results.

Tip: You almost never want to type in a person’s “middle” name. Newspapers rarely use a person’s full name.

Be Careful How You Limit Your Search
It is tempting to limit your search to only one state or even to one newspaper. That can often be the most appropriate search strategy. However, if your searches did not locate the obituary or article about your ancestor – try your search again and this time do not limit your search geographically.

If that produces too many hits – then repeat your search and limit it by the likely starting and ending years when your ancestor. Be sure add a few years in both directions so you will bring up the most possible hits.

Tip: Newspapers often published brief biographies and articles years after a person died. So be careful how you limit your search or you might miss the articles you are looking for.

GenealogyBank brings together newspapers, books, reports and documents from over 300 years. During that time printers had access to varying qualities of newsprint; pieces of type and printing presses.

1. Newspapers have been printed on newsprint paper of varying quality. Some are smooth and some pages are rough.

2. Printers had only so many pieces of type and the newspaper had a deadline. It would be easy when they set the type for the day’s newspaper to swap in an “m” for a “w” or switch a “d” and a “p” or a “1” and a “l”. The reader in 1843 would hardly notice the difference. But a modern computer might struggle to interpret each word if the piece of type was a different letter or had been damaged.

Let me give you a similar example that has circulated on the Internet for years:

Cna yuo raed tihs?
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotui t a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

This is an extreme example that shows the problems that computers have reading the old newspapers and documents. Individuals reading an old newspaper quickly adjust to the look, feel of the newspaper and learn how to read it. GenealogyBank has been working on these issues for years and improved and enhanced our OCR capability.

GenealogyBank uses state of the art OCR software and we have teams of indexers that review and tag each item – focusing on names, obituaries, births, marriages and other data of high importance to genealogists.

3. Still can’t find your ancestor? Then, its time to dig in and search the target newspapers, page by page. GenealogyBank makes it easy to bookmark a specific newspaper, combination of newspapers or locations. You could then go through the newspapers – month by month – clicking from page to page to quicly see if your ancestors were mentioned.

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Washington, DC Captured – President Flees on Horseback

Washington, DC was captured and burned August 24-25th, 1814.

Illustration: National Archives Identifier 531090

With British troops overwhelming the city “…a retreat was ordered, when the President, who had been on horseback, with the army the whole day, reared from the mortifying scene, and left the city on horseback accompanied by Gen. Mason and Mr. Carroll.” (Baltimore Evening Post – 30 Aug 1814).

Follow your ancestor’s lives through the War of 1812 – read the day’s newspapers as they read them.

Click Here to read the entire account of the attack on Washington, DC in GenealogyBank – Baltimore Evening Post – 30 August 1814.

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History of Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day …..
You can read about how Father’s Day came to be in this clipping from the Dallas Morning News – 13 Jun 1963.

Whether you are searching for your ancestor’s in today’s newspaper or the last century you will depend on GenealogyBank to get the job done.

Over 3,800 newspapers, all 50 States, 1690-Today

Join with us today!
Your support makes it possible for us to add more newspapers every month!
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How do I find articles on Blacks in GenealogyBank?

I received an interesting question this morning. How do I find articles on Blacks in GenealogyBank?

I have read thousands of articles on Blacks in the old newspapers, books and documents. But, what would be the best search strategies to focus on just those articles?

It would be to look for specific names and keyword search terms associated with Blacks over the past 300 years.

Search for individuals by name like “Martin Luther King”. Click here to read the Dallas Morning News 5 April 1968 when he was killed.

TIP: Put names in quotes – “Martin Luther King” – so that your search will focus in on just articles where the person you are searching for is mentioned.

When former slave John Wiley died in 1918 it was a banner headline and a front page story in the Belleville News Democrat (20 May 1918). Click here to read the article.

You should also use keyword search terms that were used over the past 300 years. For example terms like: slave, slavery, African-American, NAACP, AME Church; and Civil Rights Movement will generate millions of hits in GenealogyBank.

Since funerals are often held at churches – a search term like “AME Church” brings up tens of thousands of obituaries for funerals held at one of the many African-Methodist Episcopal churches across the country.

You will then want to narrow down your search results by state, specific newspaper or by date range.

Whether you are searching for your ancestor’s in today’s newspaper or the last century you will depend on GenealogyBank to get the job done.

Over 3,800 newspapers, all 50 States, 1690-Today

Join with us today!

Your support makes it possible for us to add more newspapers every month!
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GenealogyBank adds newspapers from 4 States

GenealogyBank.com announced today it has added more newspapers for Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Beauregard Daily News (De Ridder, LA)
Obituaries: 07/01/2008 – Current

Leesville Daily Leader (Leesville, LA)
Obituaries: 07/02/2008 – Current

Crookston Daily Times (Crookston, MN)
Obituaries: 10/20/2008 – Current

News-Topic (Lenoir, NC)
Obituaries: 01/01/2009 – Current

News-Herald (Lenoir City, TN)
Obituaries: 09/27/1999 – Current

Rogersville Review (Rogersville, TN)
Obituaries: 12/16/1998 – Current

Whether you are researching your ancestor’s in World War II or the Revolutionary War you will depend on GenealogyBank to get the job done.

Over 3,800 newspapers, all 50 States, 1690-Today
Join with us today!

Your support makes it possible for us to add more newspapers every month!
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"I sank the Bismarck"

The London Daily Telegraph (9 June 2009) is reporting that it was John Moffat, an RAF pilot, who dropped the torpedo that led to the sinking of the Bismarck on May 28, 1941.

(Click here to read the entire article Dallas Morning News 31 May 1941).

The sinking of the Bismarck is a powerful story. The US was not in the war yet – but the headlines of the war in Europe and Asia had gripped the country for years. Pearl Harbor would not be attacked for another 7 months.

(Dallas Morning News 8 Dec 1961).

Songs were sung about that day.

Whether you are researching your ancestor’s in World War II or the Revolutionary War you will depend on GenealogyBank to get the job done.

Over 3,800 newspapers, all 50 States, 1690-Today
Join with us today!

Thank you to History News Network for alerting me to this story.

Passenger Lists

GenealogyBank is growing – it now has nearly 300 million items.
This morning I found this passenger list – published as a souvenir handbill that was likely given to the passengers on the steamship Silesia when it left on Tuesday November 30, 1869 bound for Plymouth, Cherbourg, London and Hamburg.

In addition to the 3,800 newspapers – GenealogyBank has over 255,000 digital books, documents and early printed items – like this one page passenger list from 1869. It’s amazing what you’ll find in GenealogyBank.

On close inspection of the newspapers I also found these articles giving more details of the passengers, the progress of the ship to the various ports of Europe and even this interesting article about the value of the gold bars that the ship was carrying.

Brief article in a Cincinnati newspaper about local residents who were passengers on the Silesia.
(Cincinnati Commerican Tribune – 5 Dec 1869)
Notice of the gold bars carried as cargo on that voyage.
(Philadelphia Inquirer – 6 Dec 1869).

Silesia arrives at the port of Le Havre, France. (Cincinnati Commercial Tribune – 11 Dec 1869).

GenealogyBank is a core tool for genealogists – packed with the practical information you’ll rely on for documenting your ancestor’s lives. Subscribe now.
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RFK Dies 41 years ago today

Robert F. Kennedy died 41 years ago today.

With GenealogyBank.com you can read the newspapers just as your ancestors did. It has the stories of your ancestor’s lives – the famous or the obscure – whether it is 40 years ago or over 300 years ago

GenealogyBank has the coverage genealogists rely on to document their family history. Over 3,800 newsapers, all 50 States, over 300 years of coverage. Sign up now.

I had the opportunity to hear RFK speak at Brigham Young University on March 27, 1968. The 1960s were difficult times – in 1968 – the Vietnam War was raging, RFK was challenging a sitting President LBJ for his party’s nomination, demonstrators were in all of the major cities. Less than a week following RFK’s talk Martin Luther King would be shot & killed. Two months after that RFK was shot and killed.

Kennedy’s remarks on campus were effective. He had done his homework; he had broken the ice and won over the respect of the packed arena. That fairly conservative campus was no longer his adversary but was ready to listen. He spoke briefly and took all questions. Tough questions. He was grilled but he was comfortable explaining his positions on the current state of the war and the country.

I clearly remember his opening remarks – with humor he reached out to his audience and showed respect for their history and beliefs. His actions and remarks echo in today’s headlines.

“Thank you very much. Thank you. I appreciate very much being here at this campus … I understand that this is a campus made up of all political persuasions. I had a very nice conversation with Dr. {Ernest L.} Wilkinson [laughter] … and I promised him that all Democrats would be off campus by sundown [laughter, applause].

But I feel very close to this state. Not only did part of my wife’s family live in the state of Utah for a long period of time, I traveled down your Green River…spent part of the time in the water (laughter) … part of my honeymoon here and I’ve had ten children since – so I have learned something from the Mormons [laughter].

I think that we still have a great deal in common, and in common with the man this university honors. For I too have a large family [laughter], I too have settled in many states [laughter]. And now I too know what it is to take on Johnson’s army. [Standing ovation, laughter and applause].” (Read the complete text at: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Vol 3, Number 3, Autumn 1968).

The reference to “Johnson’s Army” was a reference to his taking on President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Democratic Party Primaries as well as to President James Buchanan sending General Albert S. Johnston and his troops to quell the non-existent “Utah Rebellion” in 1857. This otherwise obscure reference was well known to BYU students schooled in Utah history. With this series of well thought out personal & historical references he won over the crowd.

After his remarks students crowded around to shake his hand. I was one of them. I was surprised at how short he was. I had always pictured him as over 6’ tall – but he was only 5’9” … shorter than I was then (but now that I am shrinking, I am catching up to him :)

(Photo courtesy BYU Archives).

I learned that day that it is important to see and hear a person speak for themselves – to take the measure of a man. I concluded that he was an honest man who believed in what he was doing and trying to accomplish. It was an honor to shake his hand that day – 27 March 1968.

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Today in History

With GenealogyBank.com you may search what happened on every day in history and see what was happening the day your ancestors arrived in America – the day they married or the day they died.

Search the over 3,800 newspapers from all 50 States – from 1690 to Today.

Whether you want to see the newspaper for June 1st ….

1761 (Boston Gazette)

1861 (Daily True Delta – New Orleans, LA)

1901 (Morning Herald – Lexington, KY)

or 1961 (Dallas (TX) Morning News)



GenealogyBank has it.


GenealogyBank sheds new light on the daily lives and communities of millions of American families from 1690 to today.

With more than 3,800 newspapers and other core documents from all 50 states, you’ll find not only your ancestor’s names, dates, places and events, but also learn about their everyday challenges and the events that defined their lives.

What will you discover about your family?

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GenealogyBank sheds new light on the daily lives and communities of millions of American families from 1690 to today. With more than 3,800 newspapers and other core documents from all 50 states, you’ll find not only your ancestor’s names, dates, places and events, but also learn about their everyday challenges and the events that defined their lives.

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