Cat Poem by Ethel Maude Colson Shows Her Love

Family historians want more than just vital statistics. Yes, birth, marriage and death dates are important to genealogy – but once you’ve filled your family tree with names and dates, how much do you really know about your ancestors as real people with individual lives?

To get to know your ancestors, you need their stories – and there is no better place to find those stories than in a collection of old newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s online Historical Newspaper Archives.

Here in the pages of old newspapers, you’ll find your ancestors’ stories in every part of the paper, from news reports to ships’ passenger lists to classified ads. Your ancestor might turn up in a way you never expected, such as a letter to the editor, a recipe submitted in a contest – or a poem.

Here’s a poem published in an 1895 newspaper. Imagine if Ethel Maude Colson was your ancestor, and you knew little about her. Then you find this poem in an old newspaper – and suddenly you know she was a poet, with a heart filled with such love for her cat “Tom” that when he died, she poured her overflowing feelings into verse.

photo of an unidentified woman with her cat

Photo: unidentified woman with her cat. Credit: iStock Photo.

Her opening stanza sets the tone:

Poor Tom is dead, and my sad heart grieves,
And his memory many a thought receives,
And many a tear I shed the day
When Tom was laid in the earth away,
For he was faithful to me, and that
Earns love alike in a man or cat.
And not always those we expect love from
Are one-half so trusty as poor dead Tom.

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Her fourth and final stanza sums up her feelings on her “poor dead Tom” beautifully:

They tell me his life for good is o’er,
That I never shall see him or know him more,
But I scarce believe it; the power that made
Him faithful alike in the sun and shade
Will know how we loved each other, and when
My life is ended, I fancy then
We’ll meet, for the law of love is that
Which binds me close to my poor dead cat.

poem Ethel Maude Colson wrote to her cat, Daily Inter Ocean newspaper article 4 August 1895

Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), 4 August 1895, section 3, page 35

April is National Poetry Month. Did you know GenealogyBank’s newspaper collection has a special search category for Poems & Songs? Come take a look today and see what poetic gems you can find.

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Iowa Archives: 59 Newspapers Online for Genealogy Research

Iowa, located in the heart of the Midwestern U.S., is an integral part of the country’s Corn Belt, with agriculture long being the base of the state’s economy – although recent decades have seen the flourishing of a more diversified economy including manufacturing and information technology. The 26th largest state in the Union, Iowa is the nation’s 30th most populous state.

illustration of an Iowa farm, Muscatine County, Iowa, 1875

Illustration: Iowa farm, Muscatine County, Iowa, 1875. Credit: Alfred Andreas; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Iowa, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online IA newspaper archives: 59 titles to help you search your family history in “The Hawkeye State,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1837 to Today. There are currently more than one million newspaper articles and records in our online Iowa archives!

photo of an 1872 poster advertising land for sale in Iowa and Nebraska

Image Credit: Library of Congress Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 134, Folder 13, 1872

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

Search Iowa Newspaper Archives (1837 – 1902)

Search Iowa Recent Obituaries (1992 – Current)

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

City Title Date Range* Collection
Adel Dallas County News 4/19/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Algona Algona Upper Des Moines 8/7/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ames Tribune 11/7/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ames Iowa State Daily 6/20/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Atlantic Atlantic News Telegraph 1/3/2006 – 1/6/2011 Recent Obituaries
Bettendorf Bettendorf News 2/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Boone Boone News-Republican 11/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burlington Iowa Territorial Gazette and Burlington Advertiser 7/10/1837 – 12/15/1838 Newspaper Archives
Burlington Hawk Eye 1/1/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cedar Rapids Gazette 1/4/1992 – Current Recent Obituaries
Centerville Ad Express & Daily Iowegian 11/29/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Charles City Charles City Press 8/1/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Clarinda Clarinda Herald-Journal 10/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Clinton Clinton Herald 8/14/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Corning Revue Icarienne 11/1/1878 – 4/1/1888 Newspaper Archives
Council Bluffs Weekly Council Bluffs Bugle 1/12/1855 – 1/2/1861 Newspaper Archives
Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil 12/23/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Creston Creston News-Advertiser 3/19/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Davenport Davenport Democrat and Leader 10/1/1857 – 12/31/1857 Newspaper Archives
Davenport Wochentliche Demokrat 1/2/1902 – 1/2/1902 Newspaper Archives
Davenport Quad-City Business Journal 4/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Davenport Quad-City Times 1/1/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Decorah Decorah Newspapers 9/6/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Denison Denison Bulletin & Review 6/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Des Moines Daily Iowa State Register 1/3/1866 – 8/31/1869 Newspaper Archives
Des Moines Iowa State Bystander 11/13/1896 – 12/28/1900 Newspaper Archives
Des Moines Iowa Baptist Standard 5/21/1897 – 5/21/1897 Newspaper Archives
Des Moines Weekly Avalanche 1/20/1893 – 1/20/1893 Newspaper Archives
Dubuque Telegraph Herald 8/28/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Forest City Forest City Summit 3/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Forest City Britt News Tribune 3/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fort Madison Daily Democrat 5/28/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glenwood Opinion-Tribune 12/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hamburg Hamburg Reporter 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Independence Independence Conservative 3/3/1859 – 8/16/1860 Newspaper Archives
Kalona Kalona News 3/4/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Keokuk Daily Gate City 6/16/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Knoxville Knoxville Journal Express 8/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Logan Logan Herald-Observer & Woodbine Twiner 6/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lone Tree Lone Tree Reporter 5/4/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mason City Globe Gazette 1/10/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Muscatine Muscatine Journal 10/1/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Nevada Tri-County Times 6/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Nevada Nevada Journal 6/5/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Hampton New Hampton Tribune 3/8/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newton Newton Daily News 1/2/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Osage Mitchell County Press-News 3/2/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Osceola Osceola Sentinel-Tribune 10/14/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oskaloosa Oskaloosa Herald 10/27/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ottumwa Ottumwa Courier 5/17/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pella Pella Chronicle 5/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Perry Perry Chief 6/6/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Red Oak Red Oak Express 12/5/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Highland Review 12/15/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Shenandoah Valley News Today 3/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sioux City Sioux City Journal 1/3/1872 – 8/20/1900 Newspaper Archives
Sioux City Sioux City Journal 3/2/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Story City Story City Herald 6/11/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waterloo Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier 1/4/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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 Iowa newspaper links will be live.

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Linus Lounsbury, Revolutionary War Veteran

I found this obituary for Linus Lounsbury, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, by searching in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

obituary for Linus Lounsbury, Columbian Register newspaper article 23 July 1836

Columbian Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 23 July 1836, page 3

He died on 15 July 1836.
He was a pensioner.

He was in the Siege of Fort Johns in Newfoundland, Canada – 17 September 1775 to 3 November 1775, and was in the Battle of White Plains on 28 October 1776.

Great information.

photo of a two-cent stamp depicting the Revolutionary War Battle of White Plains

Image Credit: Battle of White Plains 1926 Issue 2c, U.S. Post Office, 20 February 2010

Here is the confirmation of his death, as reported in the 1838 Pensioners List on the page showing deaths of Connecticut pensioners.

photo of a Revolutionary War pension list showing that Linus Lounsbury has died

Publication: Pensioners — pension agents. Letter from the Secretary of War, transmitting the information required by a resolution of the House of Representatives of 26th March last, in relation to pensioners and pension agents, and the payment of pensions. June 22, 1838. — Referred to the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions. June 27, 1838. — Ordered to be printed, as per resolution of the Committee herewith. Date: Wednesday, June 27, 1838. Serial Set Vol. No.331-1; Report: H.Doc. 444. Source: GenealogyBank.com

Continuing my newspaper search on Linus, I found this notice from 1817 reporting that there was a letter for Linus at the post office.

list of people who have letters waiting for them at the Woodbridge, Connecticut, post office, Columbian Register newspaper article 19 July 1817

Columbian Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 19 July 1817, page 1

It would be great if we had that old letter.

Re-reading his obituary, I like that last line about his character:

He truly possessed the spirit of ’76 as long as he lived.

It makes me think of the George M. Cohan chorus from “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” as found on Wikipedia:

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
A Yankee Doodle, do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam,
Born on the Fourth of July.

Find the life story of your ancestors – search GenealogyBank today. Start your 30-day trial now!

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Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from recent and 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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Passing on Family Heirlooms

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog article, Mary gives practical tips on how to document and preserve your precious family heirlooms.

Passing on cherished heirlooms is a time-honored tradition – one that predates all of us for as long as history has been recorded. Your belongings may become the heirlooms of tomorrow, but only if you take care of them.

Unfortunately, many family heirlooms become lost through the ages, mostly due to:

  • lack of proper care
  • exposure to harmful substances and environments
  • incomplete provenance
  • overlooking the need for the provenance
  • providing only an oral, not a written history

My Family Heirloom: Box of Lace & Handicrafts

A good example of a family heirloom is a box of lace and handicrafts handed down in my family. The box is full of charming little handicrafts which I adore – and luckily for me, the items have been well preserved.

photo of the contents of a family heirloom box

Photo: contents of the family heirloom box. Credit: from the author’s photo collection.

This vintage heirloom box contains dozens of small treasures, some even with the original price tag. The bundle of dainty lace at the top of the photo has a tag reporting six yards that cost $3.50 from McCutcheon’s of New York. Some of the frilly handicrafts in the box were handmade. There are two crazy quilt blocks consistent with a larger quilt made by my 2nd great grandmother and other garment parts – some partially completed, and others which appear to have been removed from existing clothing. Then there is a lovely little unsigned note which reads:

I bought this Maltese lace in Australia 1900.

When you read a note like this from one of your ancestors, you immediately long for more details.

Luckily I recognized the handwriting, and from other family documents determined which ancestors sailed to Australia in 1900. It was my maternal great grandparents – and fortunately for us, there are several heirlooms and stories connected to their trip.

Enter Last Name

Research Your Heirloom in Old Newspapers

I was intrigued about the note, but didn’t know which object in the box was the “Maltese lace.” So I turned to the old newspaper archives to do further research.

A query of Genealogy Bank’s Historical Newspaper Archives showed that by 1904, this type of adornment had reached the height of popularity. For example, this 1904 newspaper fashion article features a photo of a stylish silk suit. The woman’s garment is decorated with “a narrow edging of gray Maltese lace defining the yoke.”

fashion article about Maltese lace, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 19 June 1904

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 19 June 1904, page 18

I found a good description of Maltese lace in another 1904 newspaper article:

Maltese lace is finely wrought, but very open in pattern, so that the decorative design stands boldly, if delicately, out from a background of fairy-like stitches in an open mesh. Made of the finest of silk threads, it has a creamy glow about it that is exceedingly becoming to the face, and it is peculiarly harmonious when worn with silk and velvet.

article about Maltese lace, Evening Star newspaper article 2 January 1904

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 2 January 1904, page 20

With these clues, the choice of which object in the box is the Maltese lace became obvious. I just looked for something with fairy-like stitching that might also be a scarf or mantilla. Although this picture doesn’t do it justice, I believe this is it.

photo of Maltese lace

Photo: Maltese lace from the family heirloom box. Credit: from the author’s photo collection.

Research Tip: While newspapers are a great resource to research your ancestors directly (their stories as well as their vital statistics), newspapers can also be used to research other aspects of their lives (such as their personal items, their communities, and the times they lived in).

Enhancing the Provenance of Family Heirlooms

Appraisers advise that provenance (establishing the origin of an object, and its past owners) adds value to an antique or heirloom, and a large component of this is writing down the object’s history.

So don’t make the mistake made by many families – if you know the heirloom’s story, don’t just tell it, write it down! Document the heirloom’s time period and ownership, and list yourself as the recorder. Add a note in your own handwriting – or if typed, include an original signature. Here are some suggestions for documenting your heirloom:

  • This (description of the item) was given to me (your name) on or about (date) by (name), who was my (relationship).
  • I was told by (name) that this heirloom was made by (name).
  • This heirloom was passed down through the (maternal or paternal) side of my family and given to me on (special occasion).
  • This heirloom did not pass through the family. I found it at an antique shop in (place) around (year). I love it because (description).
  • This note is believed to have been written by (name) of (location), as the writing is similar to a (letter, will, etc.) written on (date).

Don’t forget that you are part of the provenance. My heirloom lace in the box now has a second note:

This piece of Maltese lace was identified by Mary Harrell-Sesniak, in February of 2015.

Care and Handling of Family Heirlooms

Don’t neglect to learn about the proper care of your family heirloom. If something has broken, make sure modern materials won’t harm it before attempting a repair. Get an expert to fix it, or learn how to use traditional materials for your own repair.

As my family learned with an early American antique chest, it is better to use a traditional, natural glue than more modern products that might contain acid or wood-destroying chemicals.

Enter Last Name

Library of Congress Has Heirloom Preservation Tips

The Library of Congress is the keeper of many of our country’s treasures. As such, they have accumulated much expertise, and have created numerous guides about preservation of works of art, documents, and other objects that might be in your family heirloom collection. Many heirloom preservation tips are found in the Collections Care section of their website.

Here you will learn about determining the material and condition of your heirloom. The material it is made from will determine much of its care. There are different guidelines for different materials, whether they are artwork, paper, textiles, photographs, metal, wood, ceramics or other fine materials.

In general terms, however, there are a few universal guidelines: avoid

  • uneven temperatures
  • materials with acid
  • handling without gloves (your fingers can damage items)
  • light

As the Library of Congress notes in their guide Why should you care about light damage:

Light causes permanent and irreversible damage that affects the chemical composition, physical structure, and, what is usually most obvious, the appearance of the collection item… There are no conservation treatments that can undo light damage.

Expert Advice for Documenting & Preserving Your Family Heirlooms

In addition to the ideas in this Blog article about documenting and preserving your heirloom, be sure to network with experts for further advice – and never underestimate the power of social media. Look for special pages on Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ about family heirlooms. You’ll often encounter an expert commenting on the same social media pages you frequent.

Sources for additional heirloom advice:

  • antique experts
  • appraisers
  • curators
  • fine auction houses
  • historical societies
  • reference guides
  • social media groups

I’ll conclude with this photo of a very fine collection of silverware:

photo of silverware

Photo: silverware. Source: Library of Congress.

Tell us about your own family heirlooms in the comments section, especially any advice you have about documenting and preserving your cherished items.

Related Heirloom Articles:

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Washington Archives: 87 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Washington, which joined the Union as the nation’s 42nd state in 1889, was named in honor of the country’s first president, George Washington. It is the 18th largest state in the country and the 13th most populous, with more than half of the state’s population living in the Seattle metropolitan region.

photo of Seattle, Washington

Photo: Seattle, Washington. Credit: Joshulove; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Washington, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online WA newspaper archives: 87 titles to help you search your family history in “The Evergreen State,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1889 to Today. There are currently more than 67 million newspaper articles and records in our online Washington archives!

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

Search Washington Newspaper Archives (1889 – 1984)

Search Washington Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

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

City Title Date Range* Collection
Aberdeen Daily World 1/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arlington Arlington Times 10/4/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Auburn Auburn Reporter 2/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bainbridge Island Bainbridge Island Review 1/29/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bainbridge Island Bainbridge Islander 11/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellevue Bellevue Reporter 7/13/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellevue King County Journal 1/8/2003 – 1/20/2007 Recent Obituaries
Bellevue Eastside Journal 12/4/1999 – 1/13/2003 Recent Obituaries
Bellingham Bellingham Herald 10/2/1903 – 3/31/1952 Newspaper Archives
Bellingham Bellingham Reveille 2/1/1905 – 2/4/1905 Newspaper Archives
Bellingham Bellingham Herald 9/4/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellingham Bellingham Herald, The: Blogs 1/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bonney Lake Bonney Lake & Sumner Courier-Herald 2/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bothell, Kenmore Bothell-Kenmore Reporter 3/2/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bremerton Kitsap Sun: Web Edition Articles 8/27/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bremerton Kitsap Sun 1/2/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bremerton Kitsap Sun: Blogs 3/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bremerton Bremerton Patriot 3/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brewster Quad City Herald 10/6/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camas Camas-Washougal Post-Record 6/14/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cashmere Cashmere Valley Record 8/8/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Centralia Chronicle 10/31/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chelan Lake Chelan Mirror 8/6/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Colville Statesman-Examiner 6/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coupeville South Whidbey Record 1/29/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coupeville Whidbey News-Times 1/28/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Deer Park Deer Park Tribune 4/16/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eastsound Islands’ Sounder 2/14/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Edmonds My Edmonds News 11/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ellensburg Daily Record 10/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Enumclaw Enumclaw Courier-Herald 1/29/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Everett Daily Herald 6/11/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Federal Way Federal Way Mirror 1/30/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Forks Forks Forum 12/15/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Friday Harbor Journal of the San Juan Islands 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Issaquah Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter 1/1/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kennewick Tri-City Herald 2/21/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kent Kent Reporter 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kent South County Journal 12/3/1999 – 1/11/2003 Recent Obituaries
Kingston Kingston Community News 10/1/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kirkland Kirkland Reporter 2/4/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Leavenworth Leavenworth Echo 8/1/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Chinook Observer 8/15/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Longview Daily News 11/1/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lopez Island Islands’ Weekly 3/19/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lynnwood Lynnwood Today 6/18/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Maple Valley, Covington Maple Valley & Covington Reporter 2/4/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Marysville Globe 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mercer Island Mercer Island Reporter 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montesano Vidette 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moses Lake Columbia Basin Herald 4/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mount Vernon Skagit Valley Herald 1/2/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mountlake Terrace MLTnews 11/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Naval Base Kitsap Northwest Navigator Kitsap-Everett 12/10/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ocean Shores North Coast News 3/24/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Olympia Morning Olympian 3/15/1891 – 5/30/1952 Newspaper Archives
Olympia Olympia Daily Recorder 5/13/1902 – 1/5/1923 Newspaper Archives
Olympia Olympian 1/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oroville Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune 10/6/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasco Tri-City Herald 11/13/1947 – 12/31/1948 Newspaper Archives
Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News 4/27/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Port Orchard Port Orchard Independent 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Poulsbo North Kitsap Herald 1/28/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Quincy Crescent Bar Chronicle 5/21/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redmond Redmond Reporter 2/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Renton Renton Reporter 2/10/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sammamish Sammamish Reporter 3/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seattle Seattle Daily Times 12/20/1895 – 12/31/1984 Newspaper Archives
Seattle Hokubei Jiji 10/14/1916 – 2/28/1918 Newspaper Archives
Seattle World 1/4/1899 – 1/4/1899 Newspaper Archives
Seattle Seattle Republican 1/19/1900 – 1/19/1900 Newspaper Archives
Seattle Seattle Times 1/6/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seattle Seattle Post-Intelligencer 1/1/1986 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sequim Sequim Gazette 1/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Silverdale Central Kitsap Reporter 2/14/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Snoqualmie Snoqualmie Valley Record 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Spokane Spokesman-Review 7/3/1994 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tacoma Tacoma Daily News 7/1/1889 – 7/6/1909 Newspaper Archives
Tacoma News Tribune 1/1/1992 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tukwila Tukwila Reporter 8/18/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vancouver Columbian 5/27/1994 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vashon Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber 2/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wenatchee Wenatchee World 1/1/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport South Beach Bulletin 6/5/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Whidbey Island Naval Base Northwest Navigator Whidbey 12/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Whidbey Island Naval Base Whidbey Crosswind 5/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yakima Yakima Herald-Republic 12/11/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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 Washington newspaper links will be live.

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Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, a.k.a. Mrs. Bess Houdini

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena searches old newspapers to discover interesting stories about the life of Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, a.k.a. Mrs. Houdini – the wife of the famous magician.

Even if you have no interest in magic, chances are you have a passing knowledge of the master of magic himself, Harry Houdini (1874-1926). Popularized by film and known for his logic-defying tricks and escape stunts, Houdini is synonymous with magic. But how much do you know about his wife, Bess Houdini? Chances are very little.

Born Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner (1876-1943), Bess was interesting in her own right but spent most of her life in the shadow of her famous husband.

photo of Bess Houdini, c. 1900-1910

Photo: Bess Houdini, c. 1900-1910. Source: Findagrave; Wikipedia.

Newspapers are a great resource for finding the stories of your ancestors, whether they were famous or obscure. Here are six things you may not know about Bess Houdini, all discovered by searching GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

1) She assisted her husband throughout their marriage.

It’s fairly well known that Bess assisted her husband during his magic act. It’s less well known that she also assisted him when he conducted shows debunking the work of spiritual mediums – people who claimed they could communicate with the dead.

article about the magician Harry Houdini, Charlotte Observer newspaper article 5 March 1924

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 5 March 1924, page 4

2) She was a performer before she met Houdini – and carried on after his death.

However, Bess’s talent was not limited to helping her husband with his act; she was an entertainer prior to her marriage and continued on after Houdini’s death. She started her career in a song and dance act on Coney Island known as “The Floral Sisters.” It was while doing this act that she met Harry’s younger brother Theo, and then Harry himself. They were married on 22 June 1894 when Bess was 18.

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Bess continued performing after her husband’s untimely death in 1926. In this 1928 newspaper article she is said to “…take up the magician’s wand laid down by her husband’s dying hand.” One of the tricks she performed was where “she ‘froze’ an Indian ‘medicine man’ in a cake of ice.” It took 26 minutes to freeze the man in the ice block using solidified carbon dioxide gas, and he remained in that state for 15 minutes before the ice was chopped away to expose his face.

Mrs. Houdini to Continue His Craft, Rockford Republic newspaper article 13 January 1928

Rockford Republic (Rockford, Illinois), 13 January 1928, page 18

3) Newspaper articles about her are numerous, including those with her marital advice.

In this 1928 newspaper article, Bess gave some of her relationship advice and stories from her own marriage. Mrs. Houdini’s relationship revelation was that she kept some secrets from Harry – including the fact that she did not know how he did some of his magic tricks.

Magicians' Wives Like Magic Pretty Well, Plain Dealer newspaper article 5 August 1928

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 5 August 1928, page 103

She elaborated the point in another 1928 newspaper article:

Mrs. Houdini admits that while it is the magician’s business to mystify an audience it is the wife’s business to mystify the magician to the extent of convincing him that she understands his tricks whether she does or not.

article about Bess Houdini, Evening Tribune newspaper article 23 August 1928

Evening Tribune (San Diego, California), 23 August 1928, page 14

4) She tried to contact Houdini from the grave.

If there’s one thing most people know about Bess, it is her yearly attempts to contact Harry from the grave. A supernatural skeptic, Harry had promised Bess that if it was possible to contact the dead he would appear to her. So Bess tried for 10 years to contact Harry after his death. Not only did Bess try, but others also tried – including one who claimed success (see the 1929 newspaper article below). However, all attempts failed, and eventually Bess called it quits.

Four years into her yearly ritual, under the defeatist headline “Mrs. Houdini Gives Up,” Bess said of communicating with Houdini beyond the grave:

If I had succeeded in communicating with Houdini I would shout it from the housetops,” she told [the] Associated Press, “and I would carry a message of hope to all burdened souls, but I have none. There is nothing there.

article about Bess Houdini, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 23 March 1930

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 23 March 1930, page 6

Despite that 1930 headline, Bess kept trying to contact Harry from beyond the grave for another six years. Finally, in 1936 – ten years after her husband’s death – she made her last attempt. That final séance on the roof of a Hollywood hotel ended with Bess remarking: “He has not come. I turn out the light.” (Referring to an electric light that she had kept lit since his death 10 years prior.)

article about Bess Houdini, Augusta Chronicle newspaper article 2 November 1936

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia), 2 November 1936, page 1

A more light-hearted comment about her repeated attempts to communicate with her dead husband is quoted in one of Bess’s obituary notices:

Ten years is long enough to wait for any man.

Mrs. Houdini's Futile Trysts with Her Husband's Ghost, Oregonian newspaper article 7 March 1943

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 7 March 1943, page 51

5) While she couldn’t contact the deceased Harry Houdini, someone else claimed to have succeeded.

Arthur Ford, a minister from the First Spiritualist Church, claimed success in contacting Houdini more than once. One such claim came during a séance where John W. Stafford, an assistant editor of the Scientific American, and Mrs. Houdini were present. Ford claimed he had received the secret code that Harry Houdini had confided to Bess he would use to verify it was he who was contacting her from beyond the veil. Ford provided that code during the séance, part of which was a name from a song that Bess used to sing in her act, “Rosabelle.”

Enter Last Name

According to the report in this 1929 newspaper, Ford said to Bess:

The same man who came Saturday night is coming again. He says, Hello, Bess, my sweetheart. He says he wants to repeat the code you used in your mind reading act with him.

First of all, he says, Rosabelle. Do you know what that means?

Mrs. Houdini replied in a weak voice, Yes.

Then the words of the code came through Ford: Answer tell pray answer look tell answer answer tell.

Houdini's Spirit Talks to Widow, San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram newspaper article 9 January 1929

San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram (San Luis Obispo, California), 9 January 1929, page 3

At the time Bess confirmed that Ford had indeed contacted Harry and provided the correct code. Later though she recanted, perhaps due to friendly reminders that the “secret” message had been published previously in a biography about Houdini.

6) She died en route to New York aboard a train.

Bess Houdini died on 11 February 1943 aboard a train traveling through Needles, California. In ill health, she was hoping to make it to New York before her demise. Knowing that she was gravely ill, just prior to her death, she granted a last interview to journalists where she talked of hoping to see Harry Houdini again after death – and put a premature stop to anyone who would later claim supernatural contact with her.

obituary for Bess Houdini, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 12 February 1943

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 12 February 1943, page 17

She made that point emphatically at the end of the interview:

obituary for Bess Houdini, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 12 February 1943

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 12 February 1943, page 17

While the love story of Harry and Bess is sometimes held up as one of the greatest of all time, the couple was ultimately denied the right to be laid to rest next to each other. Harry was buried, along with members of his family, in the Jewish cemetery Machpelah in Ridgewood, New York, while Bess, a Catholic, was buried at Gates of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York.

Genealogy Tip: The research I did into Mrs. Houdini’s life in newspapers was a good example of searching by trying all variations of a woman’s name. I found articles with her listed as Mrs. Houdini, Beatrice Houdini, and Bess Houdini.

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Utah Archives: 25 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Although Utah is the 13th largest state in the nation, it is the 10th least-densely populated. The state capital, Salt Lake City, is also the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS Church operates the nonprofit genealogy organization FamilySearch.org – which makes Salt Lake City one of the leading centers in the world for family history research, including the world famous Family History Library (open to the public free of charge).

photo of Zion Canyon at sunset, Zion National Park, Utah

Photo: Zion Canyon at sunset, Zion National Park, Utah. Credit: Diliff; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Utah, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online UT newspaper archives: 25 titles to help you search your family history in the “Beehive State,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1851 to Today. There are currently more than 2.5 million newspaper articles and records in our online Utah archives!

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

Search Utah Newspaper Archives (1851 – 1945)

Search Utah Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

photo of a state welcome sign in Utah

Photo: Utah state welcome sign. Credit: Wikimedia Commons; Bernard Gagnon, 8 March 2009

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

City Title Date Range* Collection
Bountiful Davis County Clipper 3/9/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Castle Dale Emery County Progress 11/27/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Logan Herald Journal 3/1/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ogden Hilltop Times: Hill Air Force Base 10/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ogden Standard-Examiner 5/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Park City Park Record 9/10/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Price Sun Advocate 8/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Provo Daily Herald 2/27/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richfield Richfield Reaper 8/18/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Roosevelt Uintah Basin Standard 7/24/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Salt Lake City Salt Lake Telegram 1/30/1902 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Salt Lake Tribune 1/9/1875 – 12/28/1893 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Deseret News 1/11/1851 – 12/29/1886 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Salt Lake Daily Telegraph 1/12/1866 – 7/3/1868 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Broad Ax 8/31/1895 – 6/6/1899 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Deseret Evening News 7/6/1868 – 9/19/1921 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Inter-Mountain Advocate 12/14/1894 – 4/30/1897 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Telegraph 10/9/1865 – 10/4/1866 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Salt Lake City Beobachter 4/6/1930 – 4/6/1930 Newspaper Archives
Salt Lake City Intermountain Catholic 10/5/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Salt Lake City Deseret News 4/7/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
Salt Lake City Salt Lake City Weekly 6/11/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Salt Lake City Salt Lake Tribune 9/26/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Topaz Topaz Times 9/17/1942 – 8/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Vernal Vernal Express 5/19/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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 Utah newspaper links will be live.

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FamilySearch’s Discovery Center: My Family’s Fun with Family History

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this blog post, Duncan describes a recent visit she made with her three children to FamilySearch’s new Discovery Center.

I’m a single mom of three kids: a 16-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old boy. As the children of a genealogist, they are what is affectionately termed “genealogy orphans.” This means that I get so excited about my research that the kids have to drag me down to dinner instead of the other way around. It also means that family vacations often involve an archive – and my idea of a fun family activity is walking around a cemetery. Needless to say, they aren’t as fond of these genealogy activities as I am. In fact, I’m likely to get three simultaneous eye-rolls when I start a conversation with, “You will never guess what I just found!”

FamilySearch’s New Discovery Center

Recently a friend of mine, Randy Hoffman, told me about FamilySearch’s new Discovery Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was super excited! Randy is involved in the operation of the center and he described it as “a way to bring the fun back into family history” and a “great family activity.” I immediately signed up to go and happened to be one of the first groups to visit.

Strategically, I didn’t tell the offspring where we were going until just before we got there. Then I stated that we needed to do my friend a favor and find out if his recent project was any good. Being naturally helpful people, they were willing to go along with this as long as we didn’t spend too much time there.

Upon entering the brand new Discovery Center they were presented with their very own iPad to use during the tour. That won them over. My kids, like most, are suckers for technology. They were instructed to take a selfie, which they all managed easily. However, they had to help me get one that looked decent. Apparently, there is an art to taking a self-portrait. My daughter, as you can see below, had no trouble.

photo of Duncan Kuehn's daughter

Credit: FamilySearch.org

Discover My Story

Once we signed into our FamilySearch accounts, we snapped the iPads into the first docking station: “Discover My Story.” Our iPads projected information about our names onto a large screen. This elicited excitement. “Hey, look at this!” the youngest called out. He found that in the 2010 census there were only 16 other people named Jasher in the entire United States. He declared that all the Jashers of the country should get together and swap stories about having such a unique name.

map showing where people named "Jasher" live in the U.S.

Credit: FamilySearch.org

My oldest child, a newly licensed driver, was enamored by the price of gasoline over the years. He declared that he wouldn’t mind paying the five-cent price for a gallon back in Great-Grandpa’s day. There may even have been a hint of amazement in his voice that Great-Grandpa had, indeed, been telling the truth when he said, “Back in my day…”

graphic showing the price of various commodities in 1998

Credit: FamilySearch.org

Explore My Story

At another docking station was a mapping tool called “Explore My Story.” When you plugged in here, pins dropped all over the world map to indicate where each of your ancestors was from. Unfortunately, my map was fairly bland since my ancestors have been in the United States for many, many generations – and then my ancestry hops back to the United Kingdom. My kids on the other hand are half German from a fairly recent migration, so their maps had more variation. What was most interesting to me was the ability to click on a pin and get information about that ancestor. And guess what I found! Many of my ancestors had multiple stories attached to them – long, interesting stories. And photos! No way! How did I not know this? Probably because I am so busy researching other people’s trees. But I was sure excited to do some poking around in my own tree that weekend.

Experience My Story

I really enjoyed the time machine, or what they officially called “Experience My Story.” This room had a giant screen showing the interior of a house, and documented the changes in furniture and amenities over the years. I spent quite a bit of time in there going backward and forward in time to watch the changes.

Enter Last Name

Picture My Story

My kids, on the other hand, filtered in and out of that room. They had discovered the photo booth called “Picture My Story” and were capturing images of themselves in traditional dress from around the world. I was grateful the Discovery Center was an enclosed area (and we were the only ones there) because of their shrieks of laughter as each new photo got a bit more out of control, particularly from my selfie-obsessed daughter. Here’s a picture of me in an Armenian dress.

photo of Duncan Kuehn in an Armenian dress

Credit: FamilySearch.org

Record My Story

Our favorite station, and the one we spent the most time in, was “Record My Story.” We plopped down together on a couch in front of a large screen. On the screen were various topics to discuss. Our first choice was: “Embarrassing moments.” I related the experience I had in 6th grade when my long-time crush finally noticed me. He was just saying hello for the first time as we walked across the playground when I slipped on some ice. I had, unfortunately, chosen a skirt to wear that day in an effort to impress him. Skirts and ice don’t go well together and you can imagine the outcome. I lay there horrified as everyone laughed. It was a horrible happening then; great story now. And now my memorable life event is recorded for all time and eternity in audiovisual format.

We stayed at that station for at least half an hour, having a great time together recording our personal stories. My kids and I were laughing and trying to outdo each other for the funniest story. Finally, the friendly couple in charge of the center had to gently inform us that our time was up. And for the first time ever, my kids were sad to leave a genealogy-related activity. They asked if we could get the cousins and come back. According to Randy Hoffman, that has been a common response. One little girl even asked if she could have her eighth birthday party there! Since the goal was to put the family fun into genealogy, I would say the center is a raging success.

On the way out, we paused to take this family photo. The picture immortalizes the day we all had fun at a family history experience.

photo of Duncan Kuehn and her three children

Credit: FamilySearch.org

If you haven’t checked out the new Discover Center it’s worth a trip. The address is:

Joseph Memorial Building
Main Floor
15 East South Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT

You can also schedule a visit here: http://www.scheduleonce.com/FamilySearchDiscoveryCenter

Have you had a recent family history experience that was fun for the whole family? Please tell us about it in the comments section!

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7 Tips on How to Find Elusive Ancestors in Newspapers

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog article, Mary provides seven practical tips for searching hard-to-find ancestors in old newspapers.

While reading my mother’s Book of Ancestors recently I noticed she had little to say about one of our ancestors, because that person had kept himself out of the public records.

Forebears who didn’t hold public office, own property, or were married in churches or synagogues with lost or private records, are difficult to document. These elusive ancestors can also be difficult to find in historical newspapers, but sometimes they can be found in creative ways. This article gives seven search tips to help find those tricky ancestors in old newspapers.

illustration of Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass

1) Pay Attention to “Please Copy” Notices

When something noteworthy occurs such as a birth or death, news is first printed locally.

If that person has ties to other areas, then other newspapers may carry the story. Newspapers may do this either on their own accord, or at the request of the original publisher. What you want to watch out for is a “please copy” notice, which can be a valuable clue that your ancestor had ties to another part of the country where you might find additional articles or records about him or her.

In the newspaper article below from New Orleans, Louisiana, we see many examples of “please copy” notices.

  • Jesse Sands, formerly of Pittsburg, and his wife Jessie M. Olmsted, passed away within two days of each other. The end of their death notice says: “Newburg, N.Y. and Pittsburg, Pa. papers please copy.” So for these two ancestors, you want to include New Orleans, Newburg and Pittsburgh in your searches.
  • J. West Murphy died in Louisiana, but was described as “late of Philadelphia.” The end of his death notice says: “Philadelphia papers please copy.”
  • The end of Virginia B. Harrison’s death notice says: “Philadelphia and Cincinnati papers please copy.”
  • The end of John Gunderman’s death notice says: “St. Louis papers please copy.”

Because these death notices were originally published in a New Orleans newspaper, you want to search that area for more news about your ancestor. But thanks to these “please copy” notices, you are given additional locations for further searching.

death notices, Times-Picayune newspaper article 23 August 1853

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 23 August 1853, page 2

2) Know Your Resource: Understanding the Differences between Small Town & Metropolitan Newspapers

Depending upon the population of a town or city, news will vary. Reasons include:

  • Unless a person was well known, there may be inadequate space to present long articles in newspapers from areas of high population.
  • In smaller towns this is not the same issue, so there is a tendency toward longer descriptions of events such as weddings and arrests.
  • In smaller towns, you may also see more “gossipy” news.
  • If a lengthy feature was carried in a hometown paper, another may feel it only deserves minimal coverage, or the opposite may be true. Minimal coverage in one newspaper may result in extended details in another.
  • Some publishers may wish to sensationalize or downplay news. Once while researching a hometown newspaper, I found that a neighboring town paper was happy to publish the lurid details of a person’s arrest. It was not published in his hometown newspaper, perhaps to protect the family.
Enter Last Name

3) Name Variations

People are usually known by a variety of monikers, both formal and informal. Keep in mind that this is the rule, rather than the exception, so don’t ever limit searches to just one version of a name. Include titles, nicknames, initials, middle names without first names, and other variations. For example:

  • John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith
  • J. J. Smith or J. J. J. Smith
  • Jacob or Jingleheimer Smith
  • Mr. Smith or simply Smith
  • Thomas Edison or Mr. Edison
  • The Wizard of Menlo Park
  • Mary Stillwell
  • Dot Stillwell (her childhood nickname)
  • Thomas Edison’s first wife
  • Mrs. Edison
  • Mina Edison or Mina Miller
  • Thomas Edison’s second wife

4) Spelling Variations and Name Changes – Consider Using a Wildcard

One of the most vexing issues occurs with spelling variations, which occur all too often.

An example can be noted with my husband’s birth surname of Szczesniak. Since others were prone to misspelling it, the family had it legally shortened to Sesniak. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as typos are frequent. One of the most common is to change the ending to “ck,” rather than “ak.”

Name changes can be informal. A woman I know was named Jane. It’s a fine name, but prone to various putdowns, including “plain Jane.” Rather than be labeled with this throughout her life, she elected to change the spelling to Jayne.

We see similar variations in the given name of Mary. I use the traditional spelling, but there are many variations including:

  • Mamie, Maria, Mariah, Marie, May, Meg, Merry, Merrie, Moll, Mollie, Molly, Pollie, Polly, etc.

If you wish to search newspapers and databases for similar spellings, sometimes a wildcard will work.

There are two types: an asterisk “*” which searches for any number of characters in a name; or a question mark “?” which replaces just one letter. For example:

  • Merr* would query the database for any name beginning with Merr, such as Merry or Merrie, followed by any combination of letters. If a woman were named Merriweather, it would also find it.
  • Sebasti?n would return both Sebastian or Sebastien.

Also see prior articles on ancestor name research tips for tips on searching for first names, surnames, name spelling variations and more.

5) Overcoming Language Barriers in Foreign-Language Newspapers

Many online collections of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, contain foreign-language newspapers. GenealogyBank, for example, has some newspapers in French, German, Italian and Spanish.

What do you do if you find your ancestor’s name in a foreign-language newspaper, but are not sure what the article is saying about him or her?

There are a number of free online translators available, where you can type in the text from the foreign-language newspaper and receive an English translation.

For example, what if you found this article about your ancestor Georg Clifforeye?

Heiratete seine Grossmutter.

CALAIS, Me., 28 Oktober. Der 18 Jahre alte Georg Clifforeye heiratete seine Grossmutter Rebecca Louise Garnett von St. Stephen N.B., Canada, und begab sich dann mit ihr nach seiner Wohnung, aber kaum war er dort angelangt, erschien Rev. Gaucher, der has liebende Paar getraut hatte und verlangte den Trauschein, wobei er ihm die $10 Traugebühren retournierte und die Heirat für illegal erklärte, wegen der…

By plugging this text into Google Translate or Bing Translator, we uncover a startling story about the young man attempting to marry his grandmother!

wedding announcement, New Yorker Volkszeitung newspaper article 29 October 1922

New Yorker Volkszeitung (New York, New York), 29 October 1922, page 2

6) Social Notices Provide Many Clues

Many newspapers carried social notices, such as the below example from the Dallas Morning News, reporting the comings and goings of many friends and relatives.

Enter Last Name

These social columns in newspapers provide wonderful research clues to track your ancestor’s activities as well as personal relationships.

social column, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 18 June 1904

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 18 June 1904, page 10

7) Broaden Your Searches

Lastly, if you are in the habit of narrowing ancestor searches with specific dates, get in the habit of broadening the ranges.

Marriage details can extend for months, if not years. Look for engagement notices, bridal showers, banns notices, wedding descriptions, honeymoon reports and even “the happy couple has returned” articles.

Death reporting can also extend over long time periods. Right after passing, you’ll find death notices and obituaries, but some may be published long afterward. I’ve seen an obituary as long as one year after someone died. Also watch for legal notices pertaining to probate, which can occur many years after your ancestor died.

Don’t forget to think outside the box. Some reports are made in error. Even with their mistakes, they can contain valuable personal information. One of my favorite examples was addressed in my article The Lessons of Daniel Boone’s Obituary: Check and Double Check.

I hope these seven search tips will help you break through some brick walls and find those elusive ancestors who didn’t leave many records behind – but may well be found in the pages of old newspapers. Good luck with your family history research!

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Pearls of Life Wisdom from Pink Mullaney’s Obituary

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this blog post, Duncan shares some of the funny and at times insightful comments from the obituary of Mary “Pink” Mullaney about a life well-lived.

Sometimes you read an obituary and mourn that you didn’t get a chance to know the person who died. Such is the case with Mary “Pink” Mullaney. Her well-written obituary helps the reader come to know her – and she sounds like a fantastic person to know!

The quirky opening line of her obituary sets the stage: “If you’re about to throw away an old pair of pantyhose, stop.” You immediately know that this isn’t going to be an ordinary obituary, which is good because Pink Mullaney was no ordinary person.

Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones to tie gutters, childproof cabinets, tie toilet flappers, or hang Christmas ornaments.

The obituary for Mrs. Mullaney ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Her six children must miss her terribly. Surely there was rarely a dull moment growing up with her as a mother!

obituary for Mary "Pink" Mullaney, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper article 4 September 2013

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 4 September 2013, page 5

Put picky-eating children in the box at the bottom of the laundry chute, tell them they are hungry lions in a cage, and feed them veggies through the slats.

Pink lived for 85 years. She outlived her husband, Dr. Gerald L. Mullaney, and six of her nine siblings.

Keep the car keys under the front seat so they don’t get lost. Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio. Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or summer heat. Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is “Peat Moss.”

She had 17 grandchildren at the time of her death. If other descendants have been born since, they truly missed out on knowing such a lovely person.

Let a dog (or two or three) share your bed. Say the rosary while you walk them. Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after mass. Go to a nursing home and kiss everyone.

obituary for Mary "Pink" Mullaney, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper article 4 September 2013

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 4 September 2013, page 5

Pink trusted everyone in ways that many of us would find shocking in today’s society. However, her old-fashioned ways seemed to have served her well in life, and she must have been well-loved by all who knew her.

Give to every charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online. Allow the homeless to keep warm in your car while you are at Mass.

Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctor’s office for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label, “Because if someone wants to contact me, that would be nice.”

obituary for Mary "Pink" Mullaney, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper article 4 September 2013

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 4 September 2013, page 5

Friends (and strangers she would love to have met) can visit with Pink’s family at the Feerick Funeral Home on Thursday.

When Pink died, her family asked that donations in her honor be made to the Dominican High School or Saint Monica Parish, or “any charity that seeks to spread the Good News of Pink’s friend, Jesus.”

Truly the world lost a bright light on 1 September 2013, when Pink passed away.  But how good it was that a bit of her personality was captured by her family and shared in this funny and thought-provoking obituary. At first, we laugh at some of Pink’s odd behaviors and insights. And then we realize just how right she was. Thank you, Pink.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from recent and 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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