How to Research Old Diaries & Personal Journals for Genealogy

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary gives examples of how your ancestors’ diaries and journals—some available online in various collections—are invaluable to your family history research.

As family historians, we turn to newspapers to corroborate vital records—but often neglect to venture further with our research by exploring charming, firsthand accounts from our ancestors’ diaries and journals. Not only do these personal writings add to the fabric of our research, they enrich genealogical studies by adding unique perspectives into specific time periods, activities and historical events.

Some entries from diaries and journals, as well as complete autobiographies and memoirs, can be found in GenealogyBank’s Historical Book Archives, and others appear as feature pages in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

screenshot of GenealogyBank’s search page for its Historical Book Archives

Screenshot: GenealogyBank’s search page for its Historical Book Archives

I think you’ll enjoy reading some old-time intimate diaries.

The excerpts I’ve chosen from diaries found online present a variety of stories. Two are from brides, one is about shipwreck and imprisonment, another is about young school boys who get in trouble writing diaries, and the last is a description of the First Battle of the Marne during World War I.

Enter Last Name










Bridal Diaries (1886 and 1921)

This 1886 article from an Illinois newspaper presents “A Leaf from a Bride’s Diary.” In her witty and entertaining diary entries, this bride recounts the story of her elopement, her impression of the justice of the peace, and her hilariously failed attempt at baking her first pie.

A Leaf from a Bride's Diary, Hyde Park Herald newspaper article 5 June 1886

Hyde Park Herald (Chicago, Illinois), 5 June 1886, page 2

She writes of her elopement with George:

We did not have dear papa’s consent, nor much of anything else.

She was not much impressed with the justice of the peace who married them, remarking:

He looked to me like a man who would snort around the cemetery and tear up the greensward when his wife died in the early spring, and friends would have to chain him to a tree somewhere till his grief had spent itself, and then in the early fall he would lower the top of his old concertina plug hat, and marry a red-eyed widow with a baritone voice and two sons in the penitentiary.

The young bride resolved to make the best of things:

To-day I am a wife with my joyous girlhood, my happy home and the justice of the peace behind me. Life is now real, life is earnest, for we have no girl [servant]. We will not keep a girl at first, George says, for if we did she would have to board at home, as we have only one room, and it is not a very good room either. We take our meals at a restaurant, and the bill of fare is very good.

Her first attempt at baking a pie ended in disaster. She “put in quite a lot of soda or baking powder,” put the pie in the oven, and started sewing while she waited for it to bake. Suddenly:

While thus engaged the oven door was blown off the hinges and the air was filled with subtle odor of some kind which I could not describe. We pulled the pie off the ceiling.

cartoon showing a young bride's failed attempt at baking her first pie, Hyde Park Herald newspaper article 5 June 1886

Hyde Park Herald (Chicago, Illinois), 5 June 1886, page 2

While perusing this next perfunctory diary, take note that some brides are more interested in the “haul” of their shower and wedding gifts than the feelings of friends and family, and that wedding planning has always had its challenges!

extracts from a young bride's diary, Montgomery Advertiser newspaper article 13 November 1921

Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama), 13 November 1921, page 4

A Tale of a Shipwreck and Imprisonment (1795)

The Diary of Donald Campbell (1751-1804) was first published in 1795 and, due to its popularity, republished several times. Follow Campbell’s fascinating story of a journey to India, where he was shipwrecked and imprisoned. Luckily, Campbell was released and wrote his story for us to enjoy centuries later.

extract from a historical book: “A Narrative of the Extraordinary Adventures, and Sufferings by Shipwreck & Imprisonment, of Donald Campbell, Esq. of Barbreck. With the Singular Humors of His Tartar Guide, Hassan Artaz.” 1801 edition, page 260.

Historical book: “A Narrative of the Extraordinary Adventures, and Sufferings by Shipwreck & Imprisonment, of Donald Campbell, Esq. of Barbreck. With the Singular Humors of His Tartar Guide, Hassan Artaz.” 1801 edition, page 260.

For more information on Campbell, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Campbell_(traveller).

Enter Last Name










School Boys Get in Trouble at School over Diaries (1880)

After receiving a diary from his Uncle Joe, Robert Cummings documented how his days passed. After a friend was caught writing in his diary at school, the frustrated teacher threw it into the fire—making this activity all the more desirous to these young diarists.

In his first entry, Robert certainly sounds committed to keeping a diary:

January 1. This is New Year’s Day. Uncle Joe gave me this diary to-day. I am going to write in it every night just before going to bed. Every boy and girl ought to keep a diary so when he gets a man he can see what he did so when he was a boy. This is New Year’s Day, and there ain’t no school to-day, and I have played with Billy all day. Billy is my goat. I got up and ate breakfast, then I harnessed Billy and saw Uncle Joe and he gave me this diary. He says it is the best thing a boy can do to keep a diary, but he says it is the hardest thing a boy can do. I don’t see where the hard comes in.

extract from Robert Cummings's diary, Portland Daily Press newspaper article 20 March 1880

Portland Daily Press (Portland, Maine), 20 March 1880, page 1

An Account of WWI’s First Battle of the Marne (5-12 September 1914)

Although the author of this diary was only described as an unnamed “citizen of Crepy-en-Valois,” this gripping account from the French newspaper Petit Parisien was reprinted in papers across the world.

Diary of Battle of Marne, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 18 September 1914

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 18 September 1914, page 2

For more information on the First Battle of the Marne, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_the_Marne.

As you can see from these examples, diaries and journals provide an extraordinary glimpse into our ancestors’ lives, giving us details of their everyday experiences and, occasionally, insight into important events they participated in or witnessed firsthand. Dig in and find everything from great-great grandma’s first pie to war stories from the battlefield and beyond.  Be sure to include these genealogical treasures in your family history research. True personal stories direct from your ancestors add more interest and meaning to your family tree.

Here are some online sources to locate diaries for genealogy research:

Please share reports of exciting diaries or journals you have located in your genealogy work—either within a personal family collection or online—in the comments section below.

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Celebrate Redlands’ 125th Anniversary & Its Library Archives

Hat’s off to Nathan Gonzales, City Archivist of Redlands, California, for maintaining an extensive collection of genealogical and historical material about Redlands itself and the surrounding San Bernardino County.

photo of the A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California

Photo: A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California. Credit: Wikipedia; Amerique.

Watch this video interview (49 minutes) with Nathan, as he describes the extensive genealogical and historical materials gathered over the past 100 years and archived in the Heritage Room at the A. K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands.

Nathan Gonzales: Archivist from A. K. Smiley Library

Want more California genealogical and historical information? GenealogyBank’s online California newspaper archives contain millions of birth notices, wedding announcements, obituaries and local news articles to help you research your family history in “The Golden State.”

Search the history of Redlands and all of California by clicking on these two archive collections:

Search California Newspaper Archives (1846 – 2007)

Search California Recent Obituaries (1983 – Current)

Here is the complete title list of our extensive collection of California newspapers. Each CA newspaper title contains a hyperlink taking you directly to that newspaper’s search page where you can begin tracing your family tree by ancestor first names and surnames, dates, keywords and more.

City Newspaper Date Range Collection
Agoura Hills Acorn 6/22/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Simi Valley Acorn 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Thousand Oaks Acorn 7/18/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alameda Alameda Journal 2/8/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Bulletin: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Hills News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Fullerton News Tribune: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Orange City News: Orange County Register weekly 8/12/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Placentia News-Times: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Yorba Linda Star: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anderson Anderson Valley Post 5/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Brentwood News 5/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch East County Times 10/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Ledger Dispatch 3/23/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arroyo Grande Adobe Press 12/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Auburn Auburn Journal 12/19/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Avenal Avenal Progress 5/18/2005 – 12/18/2007 Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian 3/25/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian, The: Web Edition Articles 8/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Benicia California Gazette 3/29/1851 – 2/21/1852 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley East Bay Daily News 10/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berkeley Fuego de Aztlan 3/1/1976 – 12/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley Grito 9/1/1967 – 6/1/1974 Newspaper Archives
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills 90210 5/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Weekly 3/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Canyon News 4/23/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Big Bear Lake Big Bear Grizzly 6/5/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bishop Inyo Register 10/8/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burbank Burbank Weekly 6/23/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Calistoga Weekly Calistogan 9/4/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camarillo Camarillo Acorn 5/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cambria Cambrian 5/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ceres Ceres Courier 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chico Chico Enterprise-Record 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Hills Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coachelia Ideal 11/2/1969 – 11/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Coalinga Coalinga Record 5/6/2003 – 2/7/2009 Recent Obituaries
Colfax Colfax Record 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Colton Chicano 4/21/1968 – 6/30/1977 Newspaper Archives
Compton Compton Bulletin 8/31/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Concord Concord Transcript 2/22/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crescent City Daily Triplicate 1/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Culver City Culver City Observer 7/7/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cupertino La Voz Weekly: De Anza College 5/15/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danville Danville Times 10/13/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Davis Davis Enterprise 7/18/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
El Centro Imperial Valley Press 1/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Escondido North County Times 1/2/2001 – 3/5/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eureka Humboldt Beacon 4/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eureka Times-Standard 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom El Dorado Hills Telegraph 11/18/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom Folsom Telegraph 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fort Bragg Fort Bragg Advocate News 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fountain Valley Fountain Valley View, The: Orange County Register weekly 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fremont Argus 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Collegian, The: California State University-Fresno 10/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Bee 2/5/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Republican Weekly 1/7/1882 – 12/29/1883 Newspaper Archives
Garberville Redwood Times 9/22/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 8/20/1958 – 12/27/2007 Newspaper Archives
Glendale Glendale Independent Weekly 6/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gridley Gridley Herald 10/18/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Half Moon Bay Half Moon Bay Review 2/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hanford Hanford Sentinel 5/12/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hayward Daily Review 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hemet Hemet News 1/6/1899 – 12/30/1927 Newspaper Archives
Hermosa Beach Beach Reporter 11/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hermosa Beach Easy Reader 10/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Huntington Beach Wave, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Idyllwild Idyllwild Town Crier 1/27/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kingsburg Kingsburg Recorder 7/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
La Cañada Flintridge La Cañada Flintridge Weekly 10/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laguna Woods Leisure World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Arrowhead Mountain News & Crestline Courier-News 12/6/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Canyon Life – Ladera Post – Rancho Santa Margarita News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna News-Post: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna Niguel News – Aliso Viejo News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Saddleback Valley News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Isabella Kern Valley Sun 11/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Clear Lake Observer American 11/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Lake County Record Bee 9/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lemoore Lemoore Advance 6/11/2003 – 9/17/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lincoln Lincoln News Messenger 11/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lodi Lodi News-Sentinel 2/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lompoc Lompoc Record 10/2/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Downtown Gazette 7/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Grunion Gazette 2/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Long Beach Press-Telegram 8/11/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Uptown Gazette 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Loomis Loomis News 12/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Aguacero 3/24/1878 – 3/31/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Amigo del Pueblo 11/30/1861 – 11/30/1861 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Argonaut 3/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Bel-Air View 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Brentwood News 8/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Cinema 2/1/1935 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Clamor Publico 6/19/1855 – 6/27/1857 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Con Safos 6/1/1968 – 1/1/1972 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Correo Mejicano 10/18/1917 – 10/18/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Cronica 9/12/1874 – 9/12/1874 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Democrata 10/14/1882 – 11/4/1882 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Dos Republicas 3/15/1892 – 9/3/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eastern Group Publications 8/11/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Eco de la Patria 2/14/1878 – 2/21/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco de Mexico 10/3/1924 – 10/29/1924 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco Mejicano 10/29/1885 – 10/29/1885 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Fe en la Democracia 10/29/1884 – 11/3/1884 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Heraldo de Mexico 12/9/1917 – 12/29/1928 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Inter-Faith Churchman 4/20/1941 – 4/20/1941 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 9/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Joven 9/18/1877 – 4/12/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles L.A. Observed 5/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles L.A. Watts Times 4/20/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles LA Alternative 4/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Downtown News 1/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Sentinel 3/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Times 1/2/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Tribune 9/6/1943 – 4/22/1960 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malcriado 4/17/1927 – 4/17/1927 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malibu Beach 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Mesazero 12/21/1954 – 12/21/1954 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Monitor Mejicano 10/26/1895 – 10/29/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Our Weekly 9/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Pacific Citizen 3/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Park Labrea News/Beverly Press 12/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Prensa 12/8/1917 – 1/2/1937 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Regeneracion 9/5/1910 – 10/6/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Santa Monica Sun 8/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Teller 3/20/1946 – 3/20/1946 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Union 11/21/1896 – 5/15/1897 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Westside Today 7/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Banos Los Banos Enterprise 8/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Gatos Los Gatos Daily News 9/22/2006 – 8/19/2007 Recent Obituaries
Madera Madera Tribune 5/8/2002 – 3/10/2009 Recent Obituaries
Mammoth Lakes Mammoth Times 10/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Manteca Manteca Bulletin 11/19/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marina Del Rey Del Rey News 5/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez Martinez News-Gazette 1/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez, Pleasant Hill Record 4/10/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Appeal-Democrat 10/25/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Weekly California Express 11/7/1857 – 10/29/1859 Newspaper Archives
Mendocino Mendocino Beacon 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Merced Merced Sun-Star 8/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Fremont Bulletin 6/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Milpitas Post 8/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Modesto Modesto Bee 1/3/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Arcadia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Monrovia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Pasadena Independent 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Sierra Madre Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montclair Village Montclarion 11/23/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monterey Californian 8/15/1846 – 8/15/1846 Newspaper Archives
Monterey Monterey County Herald 1/6/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moorpark Moorpark Acorn 3/18/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Morro Bay Central Coast Sun Bulletin 11/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mount Shasta Mt. Shasta Herald 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa American Canyon Eagle 9/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa Napa Valley Register 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Needles Needles Desert Star 4/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newport Beach, Costa Mesa Current, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Novato Marin Independent Journal 2/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Escalon Times 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Oakdale Leader 10/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Riverbank News 8/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakhurst Sierra Star 2/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Alambres de N.E.L. 5/21/1975 – 6/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Alameda Times-Star 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland American Sentinel 1/1/1886 – 12/25/1889 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Mundo 1/6/1971 – 12/25/1974 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Post 11/5/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Oakland Sunshine 3/20/1915 – 2/25/1922 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Tribune 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Western Outlook 11/7/1914 – 5/26/1928 Newspaper Archives
Ojai Ojai Valley News 1/30/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ontario Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 4/9/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oroville Oroville Mercury-Register 1/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacific Palisades Pacific Palisades 90272 2/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacifica Pacifica Tribune 8/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palm Springs Desert Star Weekly 9/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Burlingame Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily News 9/22/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily Post 12/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Redwood City Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Paradise Paradise Post 7/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena Star-News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley News Journal 2/25/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Piedmont Piedmonter 3/1/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Placerville Mountain Democrat 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Pleasanton Times 8/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Tri-Valley Herald 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Valley Times 6/19/1995 – 8/28/2011 Recent Obituaries
Porterville Porterville Recorder 4/15/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Red Bluff Red Bluff Daily News 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Record Searchlight 3/8/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redlands Redlands Daily Facts 9/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rialto Rialto Record 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond Berkeley Voice 11/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond El Cerrito Journal 11/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Times 6/28/1995 – 8/4/2011 Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Weekly 3/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgecrest Daily Independent 4/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverdale Twin City Times 5/13/2003 – 1/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
Riverside Business Press/California 2/26/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Press and Horticulturist 7/6/1878 – 12/29/1905 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Press-Enterprise 9/28/1992 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside County Record 1/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside Daily Press 6/10/1886 – 3/11/1949 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Riverside Independent Enterprise 3/3/1891 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Rocklin Placer Herald 12/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rolling Hills Estates Palos Verdes Peninsula News 12/27/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Roseville Press-Tribune 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Daily Democratic State Journal 8/26/1853 – 4/30/1858 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Post (El Informador) 11/4/1967 – 12/2/1967 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Prensa Libre 1/15/1969 – 12/31/1970 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Sacramento Bee 3/31/1984 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Sacramento Weekly Union 10/31/1851 – 4/15/1853 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Themis 2/24/1889 – 6/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Weekly Rescue 2/1/1864 – 9/27/1877 Newspaper Archives
Salinas Valley Adviser 6/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Colton Courier 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino El Chicano 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Sun 9/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Capistrano Valley News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Dana Point News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Sun Post News: Orange County Register weekly 5/21/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Daily San Diegan 11/1/1887 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego Evening Tribune 12/3/1895 – 9/24/1940 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily Bee 5/16/1887 – 3/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily World 1/28/1873 – 7/25/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Sun 7/27/1881 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Union 3/20/1871 – 12/31/1983 Newspaper Archives
San Diego U-T San Diego 12/7/1983 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Weekly World 7/27/1872 – 7/19/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Fernando San Fernando Valley Sun 11/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco Alaska Appeal 3/6/1879 – 4/15/1880 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Alta California 6/1/1850 – 6/21/1861 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Bay Citizen 6/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences 1/12/1854 – 9/21/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco California Journal und Sonntags-gast 1/14/1872 – 12/30/1877 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Centro America 2/20/1921 – 8/25/1921 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Cronica 12/15/1854 – 2/28/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Commercial News 1/1/1885 – 12/31/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Globe 1/1/1857 – 8/14/1858 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Placer Times and Transcript 6/28/1852 – 12/4/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Eco del Pacifico 4/9/1857 – 4/9/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Elevator 5/5/1865 – 6/11/1898 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Free Angela 5/1/1971 – 11/8/1971 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Grafico Internacional 2/1/1937 – 4/1/1937 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Hispano America 6/16/1918 – 12/5/1931 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Imparcial 11/20/1931 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Jalamate 12/1/1971 – 6/9/1972 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mefistofeles 3/9/1918 – 7/20/1918 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mercantile Gazette and Prices Current, Shipping List and Register 10/2/1863 – 10/18/1867 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mirror of the Times 12/12/1857 – 12/12/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Nueva Mission 11/27/1967 – 10/1/1969 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Abend Post 1/3/1871 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Bulletin 10/8/1855 – 12/31/1891 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1937 – 12/31/1942 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco San Francisco Evening Journal 5/31/1852 – 5/13/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Vindicator 5/2/1887 – 2/16/1889 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Seminario Imparcial 8/13/1938 – 11/12/1938 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz de Chile y de las Republicas Americanas 10/11/1867 – 5/26/1868 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz del Nuevo Mundo 3/27/1865 – 9/23/1884 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Alta California 10/5/1850 – 12/30/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Pacific News 12/31/1849 – 5/15/1851 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Almaden Resident 10/16/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Campbell Reporter 9/22/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Cupertino Courier 12/27/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Evening News 2/23/1884 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Los Gatos Weekly-Times 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Rose Garden Resident 4/29/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 11/5/1861 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 6/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Sunnyvale Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Willow Glen Resident 1/10/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Luis Obispo Tribune 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo County Times 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo Daily Journal 6/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Ramon San Ramon Valley Times 9/9/1995 – 7/28/2010 Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana OC Post-Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 2/19/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Orange County Register 1/1/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Star-Progress: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Tustin News, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Anita Santa Anita Pacemaker 4/24/1942 – 7/29/1942 Newspaper Archives
Santa Barbara Gaceta 8/9/1879 – 7/30/1881 Newspaper Archives
Santa Clarita Signal 12/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Santa Maria Times 12/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Times Press Recorder 1/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Monica Aguila 3/21/1971 – 3/21/1973 Newspaper Archives
Santa Monica Santa Monica Daily Press 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Rosa Press Democrat 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Saratoga Saratoga News 12/6/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Scotts Valley Santa Cruz Sentinel 2/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seaside Monterey County Weekly 4/24/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Selma Selma Enterprise 5/6/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonoma Sonoma Index-Tribune 11/29/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonora Union Democrat 3/4/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Helena St. Helena Star 3/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stanford Atisbos 6/1/1975 – 6/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
State-Wide County California Newswire 7/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stockton San Joaquin Republican 10/27/1855 – 12/8/1860 Newspaper Archives
Taft Midway Driller 11/8/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tanforan Tanforan Totalizer 5/15/1942 – 9/12/1942 Newspaper Archives
Temecula Californian 7/14/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance Daily Breeze 8/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance More San Pedro 2/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Turlock Turlock Journal 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Desert Trail 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Observation Post: Marine Corps Combat Center 1/16/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ukiah Ukiah Daily Journal 9/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vacaville Reporter 1/3/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Solano Times 4/20/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Times-Herald 7/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ventura Ventura County Star 3/5/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Weekly News 8/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Contra Costa Times 6/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Lamorinda Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Walnut Creek Journal 8/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Covina San Gabriel Valley Tribune 9/25/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Whittier Whittier Daily News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willits Willits News 9/17/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Daily Democrat 8/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Hills Daily News of Los Angeles 10/3/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yreka Siskiyou Daily News 5/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Star 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries

A Mystery from the First Handwritten Newspaper Published in America

One of the oldest newspapers published in America was the Boston News-Letter. The origins of this historical newspaper were detailed, handwritten reports by John Campbell.

In 1702, John Campbell became the Postmaster in Boston. “As part of his job, Campbell had the official task of writing letters of important information to the main office.”  (Sloan, William David and Julie Hedgepath Williams. “The Early American Press, 1690-1783.” Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994. 233p. Quoted material is from page 18.)

As ships arrived in America carrying incoming mail and newspapers from England and the continent, along with the passengers and crew, Campbell was in a good position to learn the latest overseas news.

As people came to his office to receive or send their mail he was able to learn the latest local news as well. It was Campbell’s responsibility to write detailed reports in the form of letters filled with descriptions of every ship that arrived or left America’s ports and the cargo they were carrying, along with the latest news he had learned.

He copied these letters by hand and circulated them to “postal officials, merchants and other affluent colonists…many subscribers shared them with nonsubscribers and some letters ended up posted in taverns and other public places.” (Sloan, page 18.)

Campbell could not create enough copies of the letters to keep up with the demand. Realizing there was a market for his “newsletters,” he launched one of America’s oldest newspapers, the Boston News-Letter, on 24 April 1704.

So, what do we make of this handwritten notation added to a shipping notice published in the Boston News-Letter in 1706?

handwritten entry to a ship's list, Boston News-Letter newspapr article 25 November 1706

Boston News-Letter (Boston, Massachusetts), 18-25 November 1706, page 4

Was this note added by the editor on every copy of the newspaper?

Was this a throwback to the previous handwritten news format or simply a notation made by a person who had purchased a copy of that week’s newspaper?

It might take a handwriting expert to determine who wrote this in the old newspaper.

Joel Munsell – a genealogist & publisher who went to jail to protect his sources

Joel Munsell was an active genealogist, publisher, printer and journalist. He’s always been one of my “heroes” for his legendary contributions to genealogy and local history. (Photo – Munselle’s Picassa Gallery)

I was looking on GenealogyBank and found his marriage to Jane Caroline Bigelow (1812-1854)

17 June 1834 Independent Inquirer 28 Jun 1834

And here is his obituary - (New York Herald – 17 Jan 1880).

Look at this article from the New York Herald – 28 Feb 1845.

Munsell published a small pamphlet in 1845 – Pulpit Sketches, or Dreams of a Pew Holder. The author was not identified. The pamphlet by innuendo subjected prominent citizens to “libelous ridicule”.

Real controversy erupted and following a Grand Jury Munsell was found in contempt and had a “choice to pay two hundred and fifty dollars or stand the imprisonment” …. all for not revealing the author’s name. He went to jail.

This case is held up as one of the early cases where journalists went to jail rather than reveal their sources.

But dig a little deeper.

This pamphlet was pointed and barbed – on page 27 the new chapter compares “Rev Dr. J.N.C. to “Judas Iscariot”. Tough stuff.

Who was the Rev. Dr. J.N.C.? Why attack him?

As in our day when the President’s team had moral problems they called on the minister’s of the day to resolve the issue. In Andrew Jackson’s day his cabinet was deeply involved with a scandal involving Peggy Eaton – that drove cabinet members to resign.

The President called on the Rev. John Nicholson Campbell (1798-1864) to examine the situation and counsel with the parties involved. Read the details here in the San Jose Mercury 3 May 1903.

Those actions in 1831 resulted in Munsell’s pamphlet in 1845.

But, who was the author?

Librarians and historians have concluded that the author was Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1937). So it was a 13 year old boy who wrote this pamphlet attacking the most learned and respected clergy of his day.

My question is: Did Joel Munsell refuse to say who the author was from journalistic zeal to protect his sources or because his source was a 13 year old boy? Or – was someone else the author of that pamphlet?

Write me and tell me what you think.

.

Daily New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) newspaper 1871-1887

GenealogyBank has added the Daily New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM) 1871-1887.

GenealogyBank has over 3,800 newspapers from all 50 States, going from 1690 to Today.

Search the Daily New Mexican for specific obituaries, marriage or birth announcements as well as news articles of the day.
I used to live in New Mexico and was interested to see the details avialable in the newspaper.

This obituary for Gentry Floyd caught my attention. The 1870 Census listed a “John” Floyd – living in Tierra Amarilla, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. It gives his age as 80 and states that he was born in Kentucky. (FamilySearchLabs.org)

This could be our “Gentry” Floyd. His obituary gives more details of his life and death.

That he was born in 1798 in Christian County, Kentucky; joined the Christian Church and was baptized by Alexander Campbell who founded that church. That he taught school at the Indian Pueblo.

.

.

Genealogist Obituaries – 12 Genealogists in 7 States have passed away.

12 genealogists in 7 States have passed away.

Baker, Francis J. (1916-2009)
News Journal (Mansfield, OH). May 1, 2009

Beeson, Myron. (1926-2009)
Salt Lake Tribune (UT). May 3, 2009

Cantwell, Nancy Carolyn McKissack. (1933-2009)
Denton Record-Chronicle (TX). May 3, 2009

Clever, Evelyn L. (1910-2009)
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2009

Davis, Pauline Rose. (1931-2009)
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2009

Heck, Glenn Eugene. (1929-2009)
Macon Telegraph (GA). May 3, 2009

Hoff, Marjorie Doris. (1921-2009)
Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID). May 4, 2009

Lister, Nancy Lou. (1940-2009)
Hartford Courant (CT). May 3, 2009

Lloyd, Bud D. (1927-2009)
Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID). May 3, 2009

Robinson, Norma Garrett. (1918-2009)
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT). May 2, 2009

Stevens, Zina Greene Campbell. (1915-2009)
Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT). May 5, 2009

Williams, Virginia Johns. (1929-2009)
Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA). May 2, 2009

GenealogyBank with over 130 million obituaries is the largest source of obituaries and death records online.