Remembering the Amazing Life of Maya Angelou

Calling someone a “Renaissance” person is an overused – and overblown – term these days. If a rock guitarist paints a portrait, the critics gush that he is a “Renaissance man.” However, America – and the whole world – truly did lose a Renaissance woman on 28 May 2014 when the remarkable Maya Angelou died.

Born in poverty on 4 April 1926 in St. Louis, Angelou experienced and accomplished more in her 86 years than is almost imaginable. In alphabetical order, she was an: activist, actress, artist, author, dancer, director, composer, cook, editor, journalist, mother, musician, nightclub performer, playwright, poet, professor, prostitute, producer, screenwriter, singer, speaker, streetcar conductor and waitress.

photo of Maya Angelou giving a speech during the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign, 18 September 2008

Photo: Maya Angelou giving a speech during the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign, 18 September 2008. Credit: Talbot Troy; Wikimedia Commons.

An advocate for women in general and African American women in particular, Angelou was also active in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a friend of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, and a mentor to Toni Morrison and Oprah Winfrey. She maintained a large circle of friends and associates, including prominent politicians, activists, entertainers and writers. Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

photo of Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, 19 January 1993

Photo: Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, 19 January 1993. Credit: Office of the White House; Wikimedia Commons.

She produced and directed movies, plays and television programs. Angelou wrote seven autobiographies (including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969), several volumes of essays and poetry, and could speak seven languages. She was recognized, appreciated and praised, receiving more than 50 honorary degrees and dozens of awards – including nominations for a Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and Emmy Award; winning three Grammys; and receiving the National Medal of Arts, the Lincoln Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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The astonishing extent of Angelou’s life accomplishments was mentioned prominently in her obituaries, such as this one from the Associated Press published in a Vermont newspaper – note she is immediately identified as a “renaissance woman.”

obituary for Maya Angelou, Bennington Banner newspaper article 29 May 2014

Bennington Banner (Bennington, Vermont), 29 May 2014

The Renaissance aspect of Angelou’s long life was also featured in the lead of this newspaper obituary.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Blade newspaper article 29 May 2014

Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 29 May 2014

Angelou spent much of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, and this Arkansas newspaper published an extensive obituary about her, with this lead.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper article 29 May 2014

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), 29 May 2014

Obituaries are a key resource for family history research. Although vital statistics can be found in government and other official records, it is newspaper articles – and especially obituaries – that go beyond the names and dates to provide the stories of our ancestors, to help us get to know them as real people.

For example, later in the above obituary comes this little tidbit from Angelou.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper article 29 May 2014

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), 29 May 2014

The obituary from the Ohio newspaper above provided this detail about her first name.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Blade newspaper article 29 May 2014

Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 29 May 2014

This obituary from a West Virginia newspaper provided a story about the close relationship that Angelou maintained with Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Charleston Gazette newspaper article 29 May 2014

Charleston Gazette (Charleston, West Virginia), 29 May 2014

And finally, this obituary from a North Carolina newspaper provided an insight into Angelou’s character.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Charlotte Observer newspaper article 29 May 2014

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 29 May 2014

It isn’t just obituaries that provide stories about our ancestors. GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives – more than 6,700 titles from 1690 to today – have more than 3,400 articles about Maya Angelou.

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Of particular interest in these online newspaper archives is GenealogyBank’s African American Newspaper Archives. From that collection we gain the following perspectives on Maya Angelou.

This African American Kansas newspaper said this of Angelou.

article about Maya Angelou, Wichita Times newspaper article 18 November 1976

Wichita Times (Wichita, Kansas), 18 November 1976, page 3

This African American New York newspaper reported on one of Angelou’s many speaking engagements.

article about Maya Angelou, Sojourner-Herald newspaper article 1 May 1998

Sojourner-Herald (Albany, New York), 1 May 1998, page 3

This African American Michigan newspaper reported on another of her speaking engagements.

article about Maya Angelou, Afro-American Gazette newspaper article 20 December 1993

Afro-American Gazette (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 20 December 1993, page 1

This African American newspaper from Wisconsin reviewed Angelou’s 1969 autobiography.

article about Maya Angelou, Soul City Times newspaper article 8 October 1970

Soul City Times (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 8 October 1970, page 13

As these examples from GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives have shown, obituaries and other newspaper articles can give us a fuller understanding of Maya Angelou’s remarkable life, broad experiences, and many achievements. Genealogy is about so much more than mere statistics; names and dates don’t tell the complete story of a person’s life. To better understand our ancestors’ lives and the times they lived in, we need the stories forever preserved in online newspaper archives.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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World War II Japanese American Relocation Camp Newspapers

GenealogyBank has added newspapers published in the Japanese American Relocation Camps during World War II.

photo of the Mochida family awaiting the evacuation bus to Japanese American relocation camps during WWII

Photo: Mochida family awaiting the evacuation bus. Source: National Archives photograph; Wikimedia Commons.

Birth, Marriage and Death Notices

These newspapers from Arkansas, California, Colorado and Utah contain birth, marriage, and death records that are very useful for genealogists to trace Japanese lineage.

For example, here is an old obituary from the Tulean Dispatch for Hiromi Homanishi, who was from Puyallup, Washington.

article about the funeral service for Hiromi Hamanishi, Tulean Dispatch newspaper article 17 February 1943

Tulean Dispatch (Newell, California), 17 February 1943, page 1

Here is another historical newspaper article, from the Denson Tribune, listing the names of evacuees and providing birth notices and names of Japanese American servicemen as well.

article about evacuees from Japanese American relocation camps during WWII, Denson Tribune newspaper article 17 September 1943

Denson Tribune (Denson, Arkansas), 17 September 1943, page 6

WWII-Era Departures

During World War II evacuees were prevented from returning to California, Oregon and Washington state – but they were permitted to relocate to other parts of the United States. Notice that the news article above names the residents who opted to leave their camp in Denson, Arkansas, for employment in towns across America.

Some Japanese American young men joined the U.S. military. The newspaper article above names some of them when they were returning to visit family and friends in the camp.

GenealogyBank’s deep newspaper archive has newspapers from the 1600s to today that cover the small towns and big cities across America. We now have these newspapers from World War II that documented life in the Japanese American relocation camps.

Here is a list of those newspapers that contain information on Japanese American relocation camps:

State City Newspaper Date Range
Arkansas Denson Denson Tribune 03/19/1943–06/02/1944
California Manzanar Manzanar Free Press 07/14/1943–09/06/1944
California Newell Newell Star 02/15/1945–02/15/1945
California Newell Tulean Dispatch 03/31/1943–03/31/1943
Colorado Amache Granada Pioneer 06/09/1943–06/09/1943
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 10/30/1942–2/9/1943

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February 2015 Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 26 Million Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more U.S. newspapers and obituaries, expanding our burgeoning collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online from the 1600s up to today. We’ve just added 26 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our news coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's homepage announcing the addition of 26 million more records in February 2015

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 49 newspaper titles from 19 U.S. states
  • 21 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Date Range Collection
Alabama Alabaster Alabaster Reporter* 08/10/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Alexander City Alexander City Outlook, The* 01/12/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Andalusia Andalusia Star-News, The* 07/02/2002–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Atmore Atmore Advance, The* 11/09/1999–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Brewton Brewton Standard, The* 10/08/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Clanton Clanton Advertiser* 06/24/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Columbiana Pelham Reporter* 07/15/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Demopolis Demopolis Times* 04/10/2002–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Greenville Greenville Advocate, The* 01/05/2000–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Madison Madison County Record* 04/30/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Russellville Franklin County Times, The* 10/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Selma Selma Times-Journal, The* 10/02/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Tallassee Tallassee Tribune* 02/27/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Troy Messenger, The* 08/01/1999–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Wetumpka Wetumpka Herald, The* 10/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Arkansas Denson Denson Tribune 10/01/1943–04/11/1944 Newspaper Archives
Arkansas McGehee Rohwer Outpost 06/23/1945–06/23/1945 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 10/15/1918–10/09/1947 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 4/12/1944–12/31/1984 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 10/12/1953–10/12/1953 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Denver Denver Rocky Mountain News 11/29/1911–11/30/1919 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 1/1/1929–2/25/1929 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 7/25/1941–12/26/1942 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/1/1944–12/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Idaho Boise Idaho Statesman 11/19/1955–11/19/1955 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Highland Highland Union 10/25/1901–10/25/1901 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal 9/6/1934–6/30/1974 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Springfield State Journal-Register 7/1/1974–1/15/1986 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Springfield State Journal-Register* 8/12/1974–6/15/1979 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 8/1/1939–4/30/1940 Newspaper Archives
Michigan Dowagiac Dowagiac Daily News* 07/23/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Mississippi Natchez Natchez Democrat, The* 07/14/1999–Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis 12/24/1873–12/30/1874 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 01/06/1891–09/03/1893 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Jewish Messenger 03/08/1872–09/12/1902 Newspaper Archives
New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung 01/08/1894–03/21/1920 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 05/03/1913–08/16/1913 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 2/12/1933–12/31/1935 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 09/09/1899–10/29/1914 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Der Pilger Durch Welt und Kirche 01/17/1874–01/17/1874 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Readinger Postbothe und Berks, Schuylkill und Montgomery Caunties Advertiser 07/13/1822–07/13/1822 Newspaper Archives
Rhode Island Providence Providence Journal* 12/23/1981–Current Recent Obituaries
Tennessee Elizabethton Elizabethton Star* 04/08/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 02/17/1945–02/17/1945 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 1/1/1948–1/30/1948 Newspaper Archives
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 10/1/1951–10/31/1951 Newspaper Archives
Washington Seattle Seattle Daily Times 12/20/1895–12/30/1899 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 01/05/1895–01/08/1910 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Rice Lake Chronotype, The* 01/04/2001–Current Recent Obituaries

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the newspaper links will be live.

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January 2015 Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 8 Million Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more U.S. newspapers and obituaries, expanding our burgeoning collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online from the 1600s up to today. We’re getting off to a great start this 2015, just completing the addition of 8 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page announcing the addition of eight million more records

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 52 newspaper titles from 18 U.S. states
  • 26 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Date Range Collection
Arkansas Denson Denson Tribune* 03/19/1943–06/02/1944 Newspaper Archives
California Manzanar Manzanar Free Press 07/14/1943–09/06/1944 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Newell Star 02/15/1945–02/15/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Tulean Dispatch 03/31/1943–03/31/1943 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 10/8/1918–12/6/1928 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 1/1/1951–10/31/1952 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Pioneer 06/09/1943–06/09/1943 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 6/13/1926–9/19/1928 Newspaper Archives
Florida Winter Garden West Orange Times, The* 02/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 12/30/1940–6/28/1941 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Jesup Press-Sentinel, The* 09/13/2007–Current Recent Obituaries
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/14/1934–2/29/1944 Newspaper Archives
Kansas Wichita Wichita Eagle 11/2/1973–12/31/1974 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 2/6/1938–3/28/1939 Newspaper Archives
Maryland Baltimore Sun 4/4/1920–4/23/1920 Newspaper Archives
Missouri St. Louis Westliche Post* 03/13/1932–03/13/1932 Newspaper Archives
New York Adams Jefferson County Journal* 08/27/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis 6/22/1850–7/31/1890 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 01/08/1891–05/24/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Gaelic American 10/20/1906–10/27/1906 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Jewish Messenger 1/10/1862–12/26/1902 Newspaper Archives
New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung 01/24/1920–01/25/1920 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 06/18/1921–09/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Andrews Andrews Journal, The* 12/04/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 11/1/1933–6/29/1934 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Clemmons Clemmons Courier, The* 01/06/2011–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Hillsborough News of Orange County, The* 08/27/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Littleton Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Mebane Mebane Enterprise, The* 09/17/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Murphy Cherokee Scout* 04/20/2007–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Troy Montgomery Herald* 06/20/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Warrenton Warren Record, The* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Yanceyville Caswell Messenger, The* 08/27/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Dakota Bismarck Staats-Anzeiger* 07/07/1931–07/07/1931 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Toledo Toledo Express* 03/31/1932–03/31/1932 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 4/22/1903–10/31/1904 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia Demokrat* 12/21/1907–12/21/1907 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Der Pilger Durch Welt und Kirche 12/31/1870–12/26/1874 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Readinger Postbothe und Berks, Schuylkill und Montgomery Caunties Advertiser* 08/03/1816–07/27/1822 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 3/1/1982–2/28/1983 Newspaper Archives
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 10/30/1942–2/9/1943 Newspaper Archives
Virginia Altavista Altavista Journal* 10/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Appomattox Times-Virginian* 10/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Brookneal Union Star, The* 10/02/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Chatham Star-Tribune* 10/02/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Emporia Independent-Messenger* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Lawrenceville Brunswick Times-Gazette* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia South Hill South Hill Enterprise* 01/07/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Wirtz Smith Mountain Eagle* 10/06/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 9/3/1945–4/28/1947 Newspaper Archives
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 7/23/1950–5/30/1952 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 06/22/1895–04/26/1902 Newspaper Archives

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Historic Milestone: Hattie Caraway 1st Woman Elected to the U.S. Senate

The United States reached a milestone on 12 January 1932 when Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, representing the state of Arkansas. When her husband of 29 years – Senator Thaddeus H. Caraway – died in 1931, Arkansas Governor Harvey Parnell appointed her to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office Dec. 9. Arkansas held a special election in January 1932 to fill the remainder of Senator Thaddeus Caraway’s term, and Hattie Caraway won easily.

portrait of U.S. Senator Hattie Caraway of Arkansas, by John Oliver Buckley

Portrait: Senator Hattie Caraway, by John Oliver Buckley. Source: U.S. Senate; Wikimedia Commons.

At the time, most observers expected her to retire quietly after her husband’s term expired in March 1933, but Hattie Caraway surprised them by running for election to win her own term. She won, and won again six years later, in total serving in the U.S. Senate from 9 December 1931 to 3 January 1945.

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Here are three newspaper articles reporting and commenting on her historic election in 1932. The first is a straightforward account of her election, pointing out how women’s clubs in Arkansas helped rally the vote, with hundreds of women staffing the voting stations without pay, to help Hattie Caraway achieve her milestone victory.

Mrs. Caraway Is Elected Senator by Big Majority, Plain Dealer newspaper article 13 January 1932

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 13 January 1932, page 17

The article reports:

Feminine hands, for the most part, wrote and counted the light vote cast in today’s special election.

All through a cold, drizzling day, women trudged to the relatively few polling places in the state to place their ballots in the hands of hundreds of women volunteers who served without pay as election officials. Reports indicated probably more women than men voted.

The next two articles are commentaries, the first (probably written by a man) critical of the practice of letting a widow fill her husband’s position, and the second (identifiably written by a man – Charles Stewart) insisting Hattie Caraway is no feminist standard-bearer.

editorial about Hattie Caraway being elected the nation's first female U.S. senator, Plain Dealer newspaper article 14 January 1932

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 14 January 1932, page 8

This editorial concludes:

Making a public position a sort of insurance policy is neither logical nor sound.

commentary about Hattie Caraway being elected the nation's first female U.S. senator, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 6 February 1932

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 6 February 1932, page 3

Stewart begins his commentary:

The Senate seat which so many women envy her plainly is only a constant reminder of bereavement to black-gowned, sad-faced little Mrs. Hattie W. Caraway.

He concludes:

The feminist lobby is mightily desirous to exploit the presence of one of their sex as a real voting, debating senator. It is difficult to imagine anyone more indifferent to the honor than Mrs. Hattie W. Caraway.

Historical 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.

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December Update: GenealogyBank Added 3 Million More Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, expanding our collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online. We just completed adding 3 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page showing the accouncement of 3 million more genealogy records being added in December

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 39 newspaper titles from 20 U.S. states
  • 13 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Date Range Collection
Alabama Dadeville Dadeville Record, The* 09/08/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Eclectic Eclectic Observer, The* 04/04/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Luverne Luverne Journal, The* 06/03/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Arizona Poston Poston Chronicle 02/26/1943–05/16/1945 Newspaper Archives
Arkansas McGehee Rohwer Outpost 10/24/1942–07/21/1945 Newspaper Archives
Arkansas McGehee Rohwer Relocator* 08/01/1945–11/09/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Altedena AltadenaPoint* 01/10/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
California Manzanar Manzanar Free Press 04/21/1945–05/26/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Tulean Dispatch* 05/30/1942–10/30/1943 Newspaper Archives
California Sacramento Sacramento Bee 1/16/1959–1/17/1959 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 03/13/1917–03/13/1917 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 1/2/1947–12/30/1950 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Bulletin* 10/14/1942–10/24/1942 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Pioneer 11/01/1941–09/08/1945 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Denver Rocky Shimpo 06/02/1944–12/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 5/5/1926–11/30/1926 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Augusta Augusta Chronicle 6/4/1983–10/7/2003 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 4/1/1935–12/29/1940 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 11/1/1938–8/28/1942 Newspaper Archives
Kansas Wichita Wichita Eagle 6/30/1971–11/30/1972 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 1/1/1935–1/31/1938 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 1/22/1936–12/2/1936 Newspaper Archives
Michigan Cassopolis Cassopolis Vigilant* 07/23/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Michigan Edwardsburg Edwardsburg Argus* 07/20/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Trenton Trenton Evening Times 2/15/1946–11/11/1973 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Arbeiter Zeitung 09/23/1892–12/23/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 11/25/1922–11/25/1922 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 1/1/1931–10/26/1933 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Bellville Bellville Star, The* 11/21/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Ohio Mechanicsburg Telegram, The* 02/24/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 02/24/1914–02/24/1914 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 1/2/1981–10/31/1984 Newspaper Archives
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 09/26/1942–08/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Virginia Chase City News-Progress, The* 02/23/2012–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 11/28/1941–8/30/1945 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bremerton Kitsap Sun: Web Edition Articles* 08/27/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 4/1/1945–11/27/1950 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Appleton Appleton Volksfreund 06/23/1921–06/29/1922 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 01/05/1901–12/26/1903 Newspaper Archives

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Garland County (AR) Public Library Closing Genealogy Room

The Washington Times recently reported that the Garland County (Arkansas) Public Library has decided to focus on providing the public with online genealogy record collections, and to transfer the majority of their print book and hardcopy genealogical materials to two institutions: the Garland County Historical Society and the local genealogical society—the Melting Pot Genealogical Society.

photo of the bookshelves in the reading room of the Melting Pot Genealogical Society

Source: Melting Pot Genealogical Society

Why did the library staff decide to do that?

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According to the Washington Times report, John Wells, the Library Director of the Garland County Public Library, said:

We’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in the use of that [Genealogy & Local History] room. You’d walk by, and no one was in there. A lot of what was used in genealogical research is now available online. They’re not using that stuff here when they can sit at home and do it all day long.

article about the Garland County (AR) Public Library closing its Genealogy Room, Washington Times newspaper article 31 August 2014

Source: Washington Times (Washington, D.C.) 31 August 2014

So with that in mind the three libraries put their heads together and decided to consolidate the physical genealogy library materials where they would be getting more use.

Is this a new trend?

Anyone know of this happening in other public libraries?

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Old Newspaper Ads, Your Immigrant Ancestors & U.S. Migrations

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott searches old newspapers to find advertisements that encouraged families to move to other parts of the U.S. for a better life—and shows how these ads can help you better understand the lives your ancestors lived and the decisions they made.

As genealogy and family history fans, we all know the concept of “chain migration,” which is loosely defined as the process of immigrants moving from their homeland to new lands and communities, building upon familiar and familial social relationships from the Old Country. This certainly was true in the case of many of my immigrant ancestors.

But what happened once those immigrants got to their destination in the United States? While some put down lifelong roots in the community they first arrived in, many moved on to other destinations in America. What were some of the influences on these migratory movements within the U.S.?

Newspaper Advertisements Influenced Migrations

Some of the answers can be found in simple newspaper advertisements. Just as letters home might have influenced some people to come to the States, once here they were subjected to the constant allure of a better life in other parts of the country.

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Here are some examples of historical newspaper advertisements that influenced our immigrant ancestors’ migrations to other parts of America.

Arkansans Urged to Migrate West

With the bold headline “Westward, Ho!” this 1845 advertisement tells of a meeting to be held in Napoleon, Arkansas, “to organize a company of emigrants, to remove to California.”

ad urging westward migration, Arkansas Weekly Gazette newspaper article 29 September 1845

Arkansas Weekly Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), 29 September 1845, page 3

Montana Riches: Land of Opportunity for Millions!

Some of the people and organizations looking to entice emigrants to move used a method that had worked in the Old Country: they wrote letters to the editor, which in many cases sure resembled an advertisement to me.

For example, take a look at this 1882 letter to the editor headlined “ROOM FOR MILLIONS.” The author of this “letter,” one James S. Brisbin writing from Keogh, Montana, covers a range of items in this letter/advertisement, including the weather, parks, the wealth of the mines in the area, and more. He states:

But not only are stock raisers, farmers and miners needed in the West, but artisans and skilled labor of all kinds. Towns are everywhere springing up, and the services of workmen of every grade are in great demand.

And just for good measure he closes his letter by reminding readers that Montana is only a four-day train ride from the East Coast, and ends with this statement: “Only four days from want and misery to wealth and joy.” Well, how could you not move there?

article urging migration to Montana, New York Herald newspaper advertisement 10 February 1882

New York Herald (New York, New York), 10 February 1882, page 9

Telegraphers Needed

This 1905 advertisement for The Morse School of Telegraphy promises immediate employment upon graduation and a salary of $40-$60 a month “east of the Rockies” and $75-$100 a month “west of the Rockies.” For that big of a difference in salary, I’d say there was probably a waiting line for telegraphers heading out West!

ad offering employment to telegraphers, Morning Olympian newspaper advertisement 2 August 1905

Morning Olympian (Olympia, Washington), 2 August 1905, page 3

The Allure of Arizona Gold

The following 1907 newspaper article reads like an ad. While not an actual advertisement, it surely advertises what opportunities might await folks interested in moving to Kofa, Arizona. Kofa, which is an acronym for “King of Arizona,” held the richest gold mine in the history of the Southwestern United States.

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It may have been an article just like this that enticed one of my own immigrant ancestors, Elijah Poad, to seek his fortune in Kofa. As a Cornish miner, he would have been well suited to the work. However, the one note this article leaves out is the fact that there was no water in Kofa, so they had to bring it in by mule teams. While Elijah did live in Kofa for a few years, he then followed many of his fellow Cornish miners and became a Yupper in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan mining copper, then on to Linden, Wisconsin, to mine lead, and finally to Anaconda, Montana, to mine for silver and other minerals.

article urging migration to Arizona for the Kofa gold rush, Tucson Daily Citizen newspaper article 12 December 1907

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona), 12 December 1907, page 7

Workers Wanted All across America

This 1922 newspaper article tells readers that there are workers needed across the U.S., and reports what jobs are available where. Almost every category of employment seems to be mentioned in this article.

Jobs Now Plentiful in U.S., Saginaw News newspaper article 15 December 1922

Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 15 December 1922, page 28

Eastward Migration, Also

Not all the U.S. migration advertisements urged westward expansion, however—some encouraged migrants to head east. For example, this 1920 ad in a Colorado newspaper encourages land-seekers to head east to Michigan. It starts out with the statement “Big opportunity in Michigan.” The old advertisement continues and promises “Big money in grains, stock, poultry, or fruit.”

ad urging migration to Michigan, Denver Post newspaper advertisement 18 August 1920

Denver Post (Denver, Colorado), 18 August 1920, page 21

Many of the ancestors in my family tree moved around the United States, especially in pursuit of better economic opportunities. Did your ancestors move around the country—and if so, do you think they might have been influenced by old newspaper advertisements like these? Leave me a comment, as I’d enjoy knowing your thoughts and experiences.

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Top Genealogy Websites: Arkansas Genealogy Resources for Records

Are you researching your family roots in Arkansas? Here are some good resources for Arkansas genealogy information online—GenealogyBank and vital records put up by the state itself, as well as FamilySearch—to help with your family history research in “The Natural State.”

GenealogyBank has an extensive collection of Arkansas newspapers online from 1819 to Today.

Search Arkansas Newspaper Archives (1819 – 1999)

Search Arkansas Recent Obituaries (1999 – Current)

Discover a variety of genealogy records and news stories in these 23 Arkansas newspapers:

Search recent obituary records for your relatives in these 55 Arkansas newspapers:

Click on the image below to download a printable list of the Arkansas newspapers in GenealogyBank for your future reference. You can save to your desktop and click the titles to go directly to your newspaper of interest.

Feel free to share this list of Arkansas newspapers on your blog or website using the embed code provided below this article.

In addition to all the vital records you can find in newspapers, there are several collections of Arkansas vital records online to help with your family history research.

Some of the important collections you want to use are:

Arkansas Probate Records (1817-1979)

photo of Arkansas Probate Records, 1817-1979, from FamilySearch.org

Credit: Arkansas Probate Records, 1817-1979, FamilySearch.org

As you can see from the above example, this is a collection of digital copies of the original county probate records.

Currently this collection has 940,000 digital wills and probate papers from the following counties (click on the county name to see the probate record):

Arkansas History Commission: Arkansas Deaths (1819-1920)

The Arkansas History Commission has undertaken an important effort to index multiple sources that give the date of death for Arkansas residents from 1819-1920. They have indexed county death registers, census mortality schedules, obituary indexes, funeral home registers, Confederate pension registers and similar sources.

photo of the online death index provided by the Arkansas History Commission

Credit: Arkansas History Commission

Arkansas County Marriage Records (1837-1957)

This important online collection has more than 1 million digital copies of Arkansas marriage records online. These records were indexed by FamilySearch and the Arkansas Genealogical Society.

photo of the online index for Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957, provided by FamilySearch.org

Credit: Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957, FamilySearch.org

It’s a great day for genealogy!

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Heber Springs, Arkansas, ‘Jacksonian’ Is Rich in Family Stories

Heber Springs, Arkansas, may be only seven square miles in size and have a population just a little more than 7,000, but this small town is big enough to have its own newspaper, the “Jacksonian”—and GenealogyBank has it available online to help with your family history searches in “The Natural State.”

photo of the welcome sign for Heber Springs, Arkansas

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The newspaper articles and obituaries in these historical small town newspapers often give genealogical details not usually found in the big city newspapers.

For example, let’s look at the wealth of family history detail found in Mary A. (Gennoe) Moore’s obituary.

obituary for Mary Moore, Jacksonian newspaper article 19 January 1893

Jacksonian (Heber Springs, Arkansas), 19 January 1893, page 5

From this old obituary we learn these vital statistics:

  • Name: Mary A. Moore
  • Maiden name: Gennoe
  • Date of death: Thursday, 12 January 1893
  • Place of death: at her home in Heber Springs, Arkansas
  • Date of birth: 18 February 1832
  • Birthplace: Tennessee
  • Husband: I. R. Moore
  • Date of marriage: 22 February 1857

We also learn the following personal details about her life:

  • Both she and her husband grew up in the same community
  • They had known each other since childhood
  • In November 1857 the married couple moved near Springfield, Missouri
  • In January 1866 they moved to Boone County, Arkansas
  • In 1884 they moved to Yell County, Arkansas
  • Around 1889 they moved to Heber Springs, Arkansas
  • They had eight children, seven of whom survived Mary
  • Children: J. R. B., T. C., and I. W. Moore, and Mrs. Nancy E. Wilson lived in Heber Springs
  • Children: Mrs. P. D. L. Baity, Mrs. Sarah P. Hastings, and J. F. Moore lived in Dardanelle

The rest of this old obituary described the funeral and the deep feelings everyone in this small community had for “Grandma Moore.”

Where else but in newspapers can we find this much detail about the lives of our ancestors?

Sure—we probably have the tradition passed down that they were born in Tennessee, and later moved to Heber Springs. But, would we know that they also lived in Springfield, Boone County and Yell County? Would we know the dates of Mary’s birth and marriage, or the names and places of residence of her seven surviving children?

So much family history information in just one historical obituary!

Find and document your family’s history in GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives. Preserve and pass down the information to the rising generation.

GenealogyBank search form for the "Jacksonian" newspaper

GenealogyBank search form for the “Jacksonian” newspaper

Find out the details of your ancestors’ lives by searching this old Heber Springs newspaper online. Search the Jacksonian newspaper archive now.