Antonia Novello: First Woman, and Hispanic, Surgeon General

On 9 March 1990 President George H. W. Bush appointed Antonia Coello Novello, M.D., to be surgeon general of the United States. With this appointment Dr. Novello achieved the honor of two historic firsts: the first woman, and the first Hispanic, surgeon general. She served with distinction until 30 June 1993.

photo of Vice Admiral Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. (USPHS); 14th Surgeon General of the United States

Photo: Vice Admiral Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. (USPHS); 14th Surgeon General of the United States. Credit: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Wikimedia Commons.

While surgeon general, Dr. Novello, a pediatrician, worked hard to improve the health of women, children and minorities. Her primary emphasis with children was on preventing smoking, drinking, drug abuse, and AIDS. She also focused on immunization campaigns and injury prevention. She became a fierce critic of the tobacco industry, accusing them of specifically targeting minors with such advertising campaigns as “Joe Camel.”

The following four newspaper articles are about Dr. Novello, her accomplishments, and her career as surgeon general. The first article reports on her appointment, and the second article profiles her and some family members. The other two articles discuss some of the health campaigns she undertook, including her first major address on smoking.

Surgeon General (Antonia Novello) Sworn In, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 10 March 1990

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 10 March 1990, page 46

According to this old newspaper article:

Novello declared her motto would be “good science and good sense,” and thanked President Bush for an appointment she said should be an inspiration to women and minorities.

“The American dream is well and alive,” Novello, the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as surgeon general, said at a White House ceremony. “Once a dream, it is now my pledge: to be a good doctor for all who live in this great country.”

This next newspaper article reminds us how much fun genealogy can be – and provides a valuable search tip. The Novello family lived in Lorain, Ohio, about 30 miles west of Cleveland, and so the Plain Dealer newspaper published a profile of the family. Not only did the family have three doctors spread over two generations, but it also featured Surgeon General Novello’s brother-in-law: Don Novello, better known as Father Guido Sarducci of Saturday Night Live fame!

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And the genealogy search tip? Remember to do a wide geographic search for news articles about your ancestors. Although Surgeon General Novello was sworn-in and served in Washington, D.C., articles about her were published all around the country – including Lorain, Ohio.

article about Surgeon General Antonia Novello's family, Plain Dealer newspaper article 18 March 1990

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 18 March 1990, page 10

According to this news article:

[Antonia’s husband Joseph] Novello takes his family’s prominence in stride, a product of his upbringing. His parents were always “more proud of accomplishment than celebrity.’ These days they have both.

This next historical newspaper article reports on one of Surgeon General Novello’s primary campaigns: warning young people about the dangers of smoking.

article about Surgeon General Antonia Novello's anti-smoking campaign, Mobile Register newspaper article 1 June 1990

Mobile Register (Mobile, Alabama), 1 June 1990, page 5

According to this article:

She [Novello] quotes an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association as saying an estimated 1 billion packs of cigarettes are sold annually to children under 18 years of age.

This next news article reports on Surgeon General Novello winning a case against a brewing company that offended Native Americans by calling its beer “Crazy Horse.”

article about Surgeon General Antonia Novello's case against a beer company, Augusta Chronicle newspaper article 7 November 1992

According to this article:

“It is time we clamp the lids down on profits made at the expense of people’s pride and dignity,” Ms. Novello told a meeting of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

“I probably feel better about this victory for all of us than almost anything else that has happened while I’ve been surgeon general,” she said.

Come search GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, offering more than 6,700 newspapers online, and find your own ancestors’ stories. Start your 30-day trial now!

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An Irish Immigrant’s Obituary Tells Her Coming to America Story

Ellen Canning O’Rourke (1910-2011) was born in Anskert, near Mohill in County Leitrim, Ireland. She died in Hamden, Connecticut, on 16 December 2011 at age 101. As a little girl she lived through the “Irish Troubles” in County Leitrim, and had keen memories of those events – and her coming to America and finding work here. Her recollections were recorded in her obituary.

obituary for Ellen O'Rourke, New Haven Register newspaper article 17 December 2011

New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 17 December 2011

She and her family emigrated in 1930 and she went to work as a “domestic live-in.”

“Ellen stated that before her job she had only seen money” – not actually had any of her own.
Think of that.

She “viewed coming to America to work as a gift.”

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As a ten-year-old, “she remembered the names of the dead neighbors and the ballads to their memory” from the Battle of Selton Hill, 11 March 1921. According to Wikipedia, British troops had “surrounded and then attacked the IRA camp on 11 March. Six IRA volunteers were killed. The RIC suffered no losses. The IRA dead were Connolly, Seamus Wrynne, Joseph O’Beirne (or Beirne), John Reilly, Joseph Reilly, and Capt. ME Baxter.”

You owe it to yourself and your family to dig through GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to find the obituaries and news stories about your family. If you have Irish ancestry, try searching our special Irish American newspaper archives first.

Document them.
Don’t let your family’s stories be lost.

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

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Love & Marriage: Newspaper Engagement & Wedding Announcements

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena shows how engagement, wedding and anniversary announcements in old newspapers provide a wealth of genealogical information to help with your family history research.

What should you be searching for when conducting family history research in newspapers? Vital record events are some of the most common newspaper articles about our ancestors, such as birth notices and obituaries. There’s another broad category of newspaper articles that is extremely helpful to genealogists: engagement, wedding and anniversary announcements. Falling in love and getting married can result in multiple articles rich in genealogical data.

Whether you are tracing an ancestor’s courtship, marriage, or wedding anniversary, you can find it in the newspaper. And once you find these news articles, make sure to carefully note mentions of family members, dates, places and other information that you can follow up with additional research in newspapers and other ancestry records.

Researching Courtship & Engagement

Engagement notices are a good example of newspaper articles with surprising information in addition to the names of the happy betrothed couple. Street addresses, former city residences, parents’ and other relatives’ names, occupations, alumni information, and pending nuptial dates can be found in these announcements. This engagement notice titled “News of Engagement Interests Society Folk” from 1914 would interest present-day descendants of these couples.

engagement announcements, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 3 May 1914

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 3 May 1914, page 14

20th century engagement announcements often included a photo of the bride-to-be. One good weekend project would be to find the engagement notices for more recent generations in your family to include in your genealogy.

engagement announcements, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 4 October 1931

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 4 October 1931, section III, page 3

A bridal shower for one friend may also be the perfect place to announce another’s wedding engagement. This unique event provides the researcher with information about those closest to their ancestor.

engagement announcement for Elizabeth Metzger, Plain Dealer newspaper article 28 August 1932

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 28 August 1932, page 33

Genealogy Tip: If you know the marriage date for an ancestor, don’t narrow your search to that date. You may miss an engagement notice printed months or even a year prior to the big day.

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Tracing Marriage Licenses & Weddings

Don’t forget that you may be able to use newspapers to follow your ancestral couple from engagement to marriage license, and then from wedding to milestone anniversaries. In this 1927 San Francisco newspaper article listing vital record events, names of those applying for marriage licenses as well as those being issued licenses span San Francisco and nearby cities.

marriage license announcements, San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article 28 September 1927

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California), 28 September 1927, page 10

Genealogy Tip: Don’t assume that a marriage license means the couple went through with a wedding.

Newspaper articles about weddings can be full of surprises. They may include not only the names of the couple, their respective families, and details of the day – but they can also provide information about occupations and future residences. In this 1900 recounting of the wedding of Edmond Hughes and Edith Wakeman in Bismarck, North Dakota, we not only learn about the wedding but the character of the bride (“charming, accomplished and worthy”) and groom (“a young man of integrity and ability”), as well as where they will honeymoon, and then reside.

wedding announcement for Edmond Hughes and Edith Wakeman, Bismarck Tribune newspaper article 13 June 1900

Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota), 13 June 1900, page 3

Your Ancestors’ Wedding Anniversaries

How long was your ancestor married? If they stuck it out for the long ride, that accomplishment might be found in the newspaper. Typically, milestone wedding anniversaries like 25th, 50th or even beyond can be found.

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What’s interesting about the following historical newspaper article is that it not only marks the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of Rev. E. N. Maynard, but notes that it’s the second time he’s been married 25 years. His first marriage “nearly 60 years ago” lasted 25 years and ended with the death of his wife. The Reverend then married again to Susan Paine “considerably his junior” and that marriage was now at the 25-year mark. What I love most about this article is all the great genealogical information found for both wives – including their names and who their fathers were – as well as the age for Rev. E. N. Maynard. Notice too that the article mentions that Maynard had no children from his first wife, but now has two daughters, a son and a grandson.

wedding anniversary announcement for E. N. Maynard and Susan Maynard, Worcester Daily Spy newspaper article 29 May 1895

Worcester Daily Spy (Worcester, Massachusetts), 29 May 1895, page 5

Genealogy Tip: Newspapers may include articles about parties given to honor a couple for their milestone wedding anniversary. Search for these news articles to find mentions of out-of-town family members in attendance.

Some couples make 25 years of marriage look like child’s play. Consider this couple, Mr. and Mrs. Henry G. Lay, who were 100 and 99 years old at their 75th wedding anniversary in 1924.

wedding anniversary announcement for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lay, Repository newspaper article 20 January 1924

Repository (Canton, Ohio), 20 January 1924, page 68

And of course once you’ve successfully been married for such a long time, people are going to wonder what your secret to marital bliss is. This anniversary notice from a 1938 Kentucky newspaper may sum it up best.

wedding anniversary announcement, Lexington Herald newspaper article 13 June 1938

Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 13 June 1938, page 4

Be sure to search old newspapers for engagement, wedding and anniversary announcements when researching your ancestors – one more reason why newspapers are an essential genealogy resource for finding your family’s stories.

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Remembering Genealogists Charles & Edna Townsend

I thought about Charles and Edna Townsend today – they were pillars of the genealogical community.

a collage of genealogical records including the obituary for Charles Townsend

Source: and eBay, Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Florida), 16 May 2002

I first met them in the 1960s when they stopped by the library where I worked. Charles Delmar Townsend (1911-2009) and his wife Edna Carolyn Waugh (1908-1989) were prolific genealogists, writers and publishers. They were good people dedicated to family history research.

They are best remembered for their two journals: Ancestral Notes from CHEDWATO (1954-1968) and the Car-Del Scribe (1964-1988).

The name of their publishing company – CHEDWATO – is an acronym from their names.

CH – Charles
ED – Edna
WA – Waugh
TO – Townsend

They had deep New England ancestral roots. We were distant cousins, so I decided to look up their online family trees to remind myself of our mutual ancestors.

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I quickly realized that they had never created an online family tree. Digging deeper I located Charles’s obituary in GenealogyBank in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Florida). Within minutes I started pulling together his family tree running back several generations, and found that I am related to both him and his wife multiple times over.

Here were two of America’s important genealogists, but their time was mostly before the current era of instant family history online. I took the time and added their details to several of the online family tree sites.

Don’t let your story be lost.
Find and document your family in GenealogyBank and put your family history permanently online.

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The Nelson Shipwreck & Captain Hagney: Name Research Tips

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this blog post, Duncan searches old newspapers to learn more about Captain Hagney and the sinking of the schooner “Nelson” on Lake Superior in 1899, using various search tips to get good results.

Searching newspapers for an ancestor’s name that doesn’t seem to have a standard spelling can be a challenge for family historians. Here is an interesting case study about the captain of a sunken ship that may help you research those difficult ancestor names. Recently this ship, the schooner Nelson, was found under more than 200 feet of water in Lake Superior. There were several newspaper articles about the shipwreck discovery, but they had various spellings of the captain’s name – including “Haganey” and “Hagginey.”

The Story of the Sinking of the Nelson

The shipwreck story goes like this. On 15 May 1899, the schooner Nelson was overloaded with coal, in addition to the 10 people on board. There was a terrific storm on Lake Superior and ice accumulated on the ship, causing it to sit even lower in the water. The waves began to crash over the edges of the ship. The Nelson was being towed by the steamer A Folsom along with the Mary B Mitchell. At some point the towing line either broke or was cut. Shortly after, the Nelson tilted and the stern popped up out of the water as the entire vessel almost immediately went under. The captain placed his crew, his wife, and his toddler son into the lifeboat. Then he dove into the water to join them. Unfortunately, the lifeboat was still tethered to the Nelson and it was dragged down to the bottom of the lake by the sinking ship. The captain, who never reached the lifeboat, watched helplessly as his ship and family were lost. He clung to a piece of the wreckage and was found unconscious along the shore. The storm’s violent 50 mile-per-hour winds prevented any rescue efforts by the other two ships. Nine lives were lost; only the captain survived.

My Search for the Captain

This is a compelling story of a heroic effort by the captain of the Nelson that just wasn’t enough to save his family or crew, and I wanted to learn more details.

As always, I searched for contemporary records to find out more. I started by looking into GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives. I ran this search:

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box showing a search for the schooner "Nelson"

I entered the name of the ship in quotation marks as a keyword. You do not necessarily need to use a person’s name to search on GenealogyBank – a keyword search is often effective. I also entered a date range from the date of the accident to several months after the event. When the search results came back I sorted the results with the oldest article first, as I prefer to read articles in chronological order.

I found many newspaper articles from all over the United States telling the story of the accident. Here are three of those articles.

This article refers to Captain “Haganney.”

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Elkhart Weekly Review newspaper article 17 May 1899

Elkhart Weekly Review (Elkhart, Indiana), 17 May 1899, page 1

This historical newspaper article refers to Captain “Hagney.”

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Anaconda Standard newspaper article 15 May 1899

Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana), 15 May 1899, page 1

This old news article also refers to Captain “Hagney.”

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Bay City Times newspaper article 15 May 1899

Bay City Times (Bay City, Michigan), 15 May 1899, page 3

Using these old newspaper articles, I discovered that much of the information in the present-day articles about the discovery of the shipwreck reflected the information given in those 1899 articles. However, I found some inconsistencies as well. Perhaps most importantly, the old articles make no mention of the captain’s heroic effort to save his family and crew. A typical comment from those 1899 articles is that “The Nelson disappeared as suddenly as one could snuff a candle,” suggesting that the captain did not have time to do anything. I also find that Captain Haganey/Hagginey (as spelled in the modern newspaper articles) is spelled differently in the 1899 articles:  “Haganney” and “Hagney.”

Enter Last Name

After learning about the shipwreck, I now wanted to know more about the captain himself – but there were so many spellings of his name I wasn’t sure which was correct. A quick search of census records on told me that he was the son of John and Mary Hagney from Oswego, New York. He also had siblings: Ellen, Thomas, William, and Mary.

Going back to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I narrowed my search using the name as it appeared in the census: “Hagney.” This search turned up several articles that told me a great deal about the captain.

One of the first I found was this very sad newspaper article. It appears that on the same day the Nelson when down with Captain Hagney’s entire family, his friends from New York were frantically trying to reach him with the sad news that his mother had just died. The unfortunate man lost his one remaining parent and his wife and child.

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Saginaw News newspaper article 15 May 1899

Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 15 May 1899, page 6

The Captain Searches for His Family

Immediately after the Nelson accident, Captain Hagney refused to give up hope. As this old news article explains, he wasn’t willing to give up on his family – and spent hours and days combing the beach for any sign of his loved ones:

Capt. Hagney is now engaged in patrolling the beach with the help of the crews of life saving stations here and at Deer Park. The broken yawl, some parts of the cabin, a lady’s hat, a man’s cap and a mattress are all that have yet been found.

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Plain Dealer newspaper article 19 May 1899

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 19 May 1899, page 10

Hagney was understandably distraught, as reported in these next two newspaper articles. This Ohio newspaper article’s headline, “Capt. Hagney in Bad Shape,” says it all, and reports that he had been hospitalized:

The doctors class his trouble as nervousness and insomnia.

article about Captain Hagney's trauma after the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Plain Dealer newspaper article 24 May 1899

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 24 May 1899, page 8

This Michigan newspaper article reports that Hagney’s condition is serious.

article about Captain Hagney's trauma after the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Saginaw News newspaper article 24 May 1899

Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 24 May 1899, page 2

The Previous Life of Captain Hagney

The 1900 census shows him safely ensconced at the home of a family member in Toledo, Ohio, where he was working as an agent for the seamen’s union.* As tragic as all of this was, I still wanted to know more about Hagney. He had a life before the shipwreck of the Nelson and one after, so I ran some more searches. I started with changing the spelling from Hagney to Hageny. I figured this would be a common misspelling even though I hadn’t seen it in any of the records so far. This search did produce results, and I found a series of articles about his life back in New York a decade before the accident.

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Ten years previously, in 1889, Andrew got into some difficulty with the law. As this New York newspaper reports, there was a trial after some union trouble involving strikes, “scabs” and violence:

Andrew Hageny, William Putman, and Michael Donovan were charged with a murderous assault upon Jesse Josephs, mate of the schooner John Scheutte of Toledo, at the dock in this port…Josephs was dragged a mile into the suburbs, pounded with belaying pins and thrown into the cellar of a burned house; he managed to crawl to an adjoin house.

They were all found guilty of assault in the second degree, with a second, upcoming trial for coercion and conspiracy in forcing some “scabs” to leave another ship.

article about Andrew Hagney being convicted for assault, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 20 July 1889

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 20 July 1889, page 5

This “Andrew Hageny” seems to be the same man as the later Captain Andrew Hagney of the Nelson, based on location, occupation, and name, but more evidence is always wanted – so I kept searching the archives. I found this earlier newspaper article about the assault on sailor Jesse Josephs, and learned that Andrew Hageny’s brother Thomas was also involved. This lends credence to the belief that this Andrew Hageny is the same as the later Captain Andrew Hagney, since I knew from my earlier research on the census that Andrew Hagney had a brother named Thomas.

article about Thomas Hagney being charged for assault, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 17 May 1889

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 17 May 1889, page 3

But how did Andrew become a ship’s captain with this background of conviction for assault, especially when we find that he had been sentenced to four years in prison?

Intrigued, I kept searching for answers – and found this newspaper article two years into Andrew’s prison sentence, indicating that Governor Hill had promised to pardon him.

article about Andrew Hagney being pardoned by Governor Hill, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 25 November 1891

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 25 November 1891, page 8

And that was indeed what happened – Governor Hill pardoned him. So that was how he got out of prison early, and presumably set about setting his affairs in order. I was unable to find any newspaper articles reporting Andrew getting in trouble with the law again. He must have worked hard and stayed out of trouble, because in a few years he was entrusted as a ship’s captain.

The Post-Shipwreck Life of Captain Hagney

But what happened to Captain Andrew Hagney after the shipwreck of the Nelson? Was he able to recover from the trauma? It took some searching to find a newspaper article to answer this question. I had to go back to the other spellings of his name, and eventually found his obituary by searching under the spelling “Haganey.”

obituary for Andrew Hagney, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 23 February 1912

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 23 February 1912, page 10

Captain Andrew Hagney appears to have remained in Toledo for the rest of his short life. He remarried and fathered three more children. He died at age 52 in 1912, while visiting his in-laws in New Mexico.

Captain Hagney’s life was full of tragic and challenging experiences. While it must have been difficult to live, searching for his life story provides an opportunity for us to learn about ancestor name search tips, and demonstrates how much we can learn about the lives of our ancestors simply by continuing to dig in the archives..

Genealogy Tips:

Many of us have ancestors with unusual names, or names that appear in records with different spellings. When searching on GenealogyBank, the search engine will look for exactly what you type. Therefore, if you know of an alternative spelling of your ancestor’s name – or if you can guess at one – you may end up finding even more articles. And if you stumble across an article that seems to be about your ancestor, but the name was spelled differently than you thought, it could still be them. Keep searching for additional information to help you determine if that record or article is the right person.

Another thing you might notice is the location of these articles. They appear from places all over the United States: Cleveland, Ohio; Saginaw, Michigan; Watertown, New York; Elkhart, Indiana; Anaconda, Montana; and Bay City, Michigan. While some of these locations make sense because Andrew had a connection with them, some do not – such as Montana and Indiana. Keep in mind that news travels, and reports about the ancestor you are looking for could be in any newspaper in the country. If you don’t find what you are looking for in your ancestor’s local area, don’t hesitate to search nationwide. This is always a good approach to take, even if your initial searches do find articles in your ancestor’s hometown, because many more articles might be out there. Best of luck in your family history searches!


* “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed Dec. 2014), Andrew Hagney in household of Robert V. French, Port Lawrence Township, Precinct F Toledo city Ward 10, Lucas, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 8A, family 159, NARA microfilm publication T623, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; FHL microfilm 1241298.

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New York Archives: 586 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

New York is one of the nation’s original 13 states, and is now the 27th largest state in the U.S. – and the 4th most populous, thanks primarily to the New York City Metropolitan Area. Founded by the Dutch in 1625 as New Amsterdam, New York City has grown to become arguably the cultural and financial center of the world.

photo of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor

Photo: the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Credit: William Warby; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in New York, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online NY newspaper archives: 586 titles to help you search your family history in “The Empire State,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1733 to Today. There are currently more than 31 million newspaper articles and records in our online New York archives!

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

Search New York Newspaper Archives (1733 – 1998)

Search New York Recent Obituaries (1986 – Current)

Here is a partial list of online New York newspapers in the archives (there are too many links to fit into one Blog posting; we cannot present a complete list). 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 NY newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Albany Albany Evening Journal 6/12/1834 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Argus 1/26/1813 – 4/17/1855 Newspaper Archives
Albany Daily Albany Argus 1/6/1826 – 12/29/1876 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Register 4/6/1789 – 11/25/1822 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Centinel 7/4/1797 – 12/31/1805 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Gazette 1/3/1788 – 3/23/1821 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Daily Advertiser 9/25/1815 – 3/24/1817 Newspaper Archives
Albany Balance 1/4/1809 – 12/24/1811 Newspaper Archives
Albany Republican Crisis 11/11/1806 – 12/27/1808 Newspaper Archives
Albany New-York Statesman 5/16/1820 – 9/21/1821 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Chronicle 9/19/1796 – 4/9/1798 Newspaper Archives
Albany Signs of the Times 10/13/1827 – 11/8/1828 Newspaper Archives
Albany Plough Boy 6/5/1819 – 12/30/1820 Newspaper Archives
Albany New-York Gazetteer, or, Northern Intelligencer 7/15/1782 – 5/1/1784 Newspaper Archives
Albany Sojourner-Herald 4/1/1995 – 11/1/1998 Newspaper Archives
Albany Guardian 11/21/1807 – 11/12/1808 Newspaper Archives
Albany Albany Journal, or, the Montgomery, Washington and Columbia Intelligencer 2/2/1788 – 5/11/1789 Newspaper Archives
Albany Geographical and Military Museum 2/28/1814 – 6/6/1814 Newspaper Archives
Albany Northern Star and Freeman’s Advocate 2/3/1842 – 1/2/1843 Newspaper Archives
Albany Temperance Recorder 5/7/1833 – 11/5/1833 Newspaper Archives
Albany Times Union 3/8/1986 – Current Recent Obituaries
Albany Knickerbocker News 3/12/1986 – 4/15/1988 Recent Obituaries
Auburn Auburn Daily Bulletin 2/16/1870 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
Auburn Auburn Journal and Advertiser 5/31/1837 – 12/30/1846 Newspaper Archives
Auburn Cayuga Chief 1/4/1849 – 7/15/1856 Newspaper Archives
Auburn Cayuga Tocsin 6/2/1813 – 7/6/1814 Newspaper Archives
Auburn Cayuga Republican 3/31/1819 – 1/16/1833 Newspaper Archives
Auburn Cayuga Patriot 11/21/1827 – 4/2/1834 Newspaper Archives
Auburn Citizen 7/9/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ballston Spa Independent American 9/27/1808 – 5/6/1818 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Ballston Spa Gazette 10/17/1821 – 10/4/1825 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Saratoga Advertiser 11/12/1804 – 3/10/1812 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Saratoga Patriot 8/19/1812 – 12/28/1813 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Saratoga Journal 2/1/1814 – 6/11/1817 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Saratoga Courier 12/6/1815 – 10/15/1817 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa People’s Watch-Tower 5/13/1818 – 4/5/1820 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Saratoga Farmer 1/17/1821 – 2/7/1821 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Saratoga Register, or, Farmer’s Journal 9/5/1798 – 11/21/1798 Newspaper Archives
Ballston Spa Rural Visiter, and Saratoga Advertiser 5/5/1812 – 6/23/1812 Newspaper Archives
Batavia Republican Advocate 11/16/1811 – 11/23/1827 Newspaper Archives
Batavia Batavian 4/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Batavia Daily News 3/24/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Binghamton Broome County Patriot 11/10/1812 – 5/18/1813 Newspaper Archives
Binghamton Political Olio 5/25/1813 – 4/5/1814 Newspaper Archives
Binghamton Binghamton University Pipe Dream 11/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Long-Island Star 6/8/1809 – 12/27/1820 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Espana Libre 11/3/1939 – 12/25/1942 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Curioso 4/7/1934 – 6/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Brooklyn Minerva, and Long-Island Advertiser 10/21/1807 – 12/9/1807 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Guaimaro 9/26/1895 – 1/2/1896 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Long Island Weekly Intelligencer 7/3/1806 – 1/1/1807 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Caribe 9/8/1923 – 10/6/1923 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Colonia Latina 1/8/1938 – 1/8/1938 Newspaper Archives
Brooklyn Canarsie Courier 12/21/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
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New York Western Star, And, Harp of Erin 5/16/1812 – 5/1/1813 Newspaper Archives
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New York Weekly Inspector 8/30/1806 – 8/22/1807 Newspaper Archives
New York Military Monitor, and American Register 6/18/1812 – 11/6/1813 Newspaper Archives
New York New-York Chronicle 5/22/1769 – 1/4/1770 Newspaper Archives
New York Independent Gazette 12/13/1783 – 3/11/1784 Newspaper Archives
New York Constitutional Gazette 8/9/1775 – 8/28/1776 Newspaper Archives
New York Prisoner of Hope 5/3/1800 – 8/23/1800 Newspaper Archives
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New York Liberacion 5/3/1946 – 4/9/1949 Newspaper Archives
New York Exile 1/4/1817 – 10/18/1817 Newspaper Archives
New York Observer 2/19/1809 – 4/21/1811 Newspaper Archives
New York Ognisko 7/14/1887 – 6/22/1889 Newspaper Archives
New York Ladies’ Weekly Museum, or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction 5/3/1817 – 10/25/1817 Newspaper Archives
New York New-York Weekly Chronicle 4/30/1795 – 10/1/1795 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Semi-Weekly Express 12/10/1836 – 2/27/1852 Newspaper Archives
New York Flash 10/31/1841 – 12/10/1842 Newspaper Archives
New York True Sun 5/24/1847 – 2/25/1848 Newspaper Archives
New York Rivington’s New-York Gazette, and Universal Advertiser 11/22/1783 – 12/31/1783 Newspaper Archives
New York Redactor 1/22/1831 – 12/31/1831 Newspaper Archives
New York Puerto Rico y Nueva York 11/21/1954 – 5/21/1955 Newspaper Archives
New York Washington Republican, or, True American 7/29/1809 – 1/13/1810 Newspaper Archives
New York Mott and Hurtin’s New-York Weekly Chronicle 1/1/1795 – 4/16/1795 Newspaper Archives
New York National Advocate for the Country 12/20/1825 – 6/12/1827 Newspaper Archives
New York Eco Antillano 10/11/1941 – 5/9/1942 Newspaper Archives
New York Rivington’s New-York Loyal Gazette 10/18/1777 – 12/6/1777 Newspaper Archives
New York Impartial Gazetteer, and Saturday Evening’s Post 5/17/1788 – 9/13/1788 Newspaper Archives
New York Voz 4/1/1960 – 10/1/1962 Newspaper Archives
New York Independent Reflector 11/30/1752 – 11/22/1753 Newspaper Archives
New York Political Bulletin and Miscellaneous Repository 12/22/1810 – 3/30/1811 Newspaper Archives
New York Cine Variedades 7/21/1953 – 4/21/1954 Newspaper Archives
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New York Pasatiempo 3/21/1951 – 5/21/1951 Newspaper Archives
New York Cuba Libre 7/27/1895 – 9/12/1895 Newspaper Archives
New York Temple of Reason 11/8/1800 – 2/7/1801 Newspaper Archives
New York Americana 12/21/1947 – 6/1/1948 Newspaper Archives
New York Cacara Jicara 10/9/1897 – 12/13/1897 Newspaper Archives
New York Epoca de Nueva York 12/2/1919 – 12/26/1919 Newspaper Archives
New York Estrella de Cuba 4/16/1870 – 6/29/1870 Newspaper Archives
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New York Mensaje 8/25/1957 – 3/25/1958 Newspaper Archives
New York Independent New-York Gazette 11/22/1783 – 12/6/1783 Newspaper Archives
New York Spirit of ’76 3/7/1809 – 4/27/1809 Newspaper Archives
New York Independiente 10/1/1898 – 12/31/1898 Newspaper Archives
New York M’Dowall’s Journal 10/1/1833 – 10/1/1833 Newspaper Archives
New York Semanario Hispano 3/9/1946 – 5/25/1946 Newspaper Archives
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New York Rights of All 5/29/1829 – 10/9/1829 Newspaper Archives
New York Ecos de Mundo 8/6/1960 – 8/13/1960 Newspaper Archives
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New York Civil Liberties Reporter 9/11/1950 – 4/1/1952 Newspaper Archives
New York Copway’s American Indian 8/23/1851 – 9/6/1851 Newspaper Archives
New York Semanario 12/10/1955 – 12/10/1955 Newspaper Archives
New York Harlem Daily 9/23/1965 – 10/12/1965 Newspaper Archives
New York Rivington’s New-York Gazette 10/4/1777 – 10/11/1777 Newspaper Archives
New York Mundo Latino 5/15/1948 – 5/15/1948 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Evening Post for the Country 6/12/1829 – 6/12/1829 Newspaper Archives
New York Nosotros 11/21/1953 – 11/21/1953 Newspaper Archives
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New York Freiheit 12/26/1903 – 12/26/1903 Newspaper Archives
New York Papagayo 2/15/1855 – 4/16/1855 Newspaper Archives
New York Youth’s News Paper 9/30/1797 – 11/4/1797 Newspaper Archives
New York Artistas Hispanos 6/21/1948 – 6/21/1948 Newspaper Archives
New York Cronica 1/13/1950 – 1/14/1950 Newspaper Archives
New York New-York Statesman 10/31/1825 – 11/10/1826 Newspaper Archives
New York Observateur Impartial, et Messager de L’union 2/6/1808 – 2/6/1808 Newspaper Archives
New York Exito 1/21/1954 – 1/21/1954 Newspaper Archives
New York Boricua 6/23/1948 – 6/23/1948 Newspaper Archives
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New York Ateneo 4/21/1934 – 4/21/1934 Newspaper Archives
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New York Liberator 9/6/1896 – 9/6/1896 Newspaper Archives
New York Patria 3/14/1892 – 6/25/1895 Newspaper Archives
New York Cosas 12/3/1931 – 12/3/1931 Newspaper Archives
New York United States’ Shipping List 11/22/1811 – 11/20/1812 Newspaper Archives
New York Machate Criollo 2/27/1927 – 2/27/1927 Newspaper Archives
New York Frente Hispano 6/26/1937 – 6/26/1937 Newspaper Archives
New York Aki Nueva York 3/26/1955 – 3/26/1955 Newspaper Archives
New York Cascabeles 5/1/1934 – 5/1/1934 Newspaper Archives
New York Remembrancer 6/1/1805 – 6/1/1805 Newspaper Archives
New York Ebenezer 3/1/1945 – 6/1/1945 Newspaper Archives
New York Forlorn Hope 3/24/1800 – 3/24/1800 Newspaper Archives
New York Black Republican and Office-Holder’s Journal 8/10/1865 – 8/10/1865 Newspaper Archives
New York Republicas Hispanas Unidas 12/18/1943 – 12/18/1943 Newspaper Archives
New York Kan-de-la 6/3/1949 – 6/3/1949 Newspaper Archives
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New York Metro – New York 11/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Downtown Express 5/26/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Observer 1/12/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Gay City News 7/24/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
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New York Villager 11/18/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
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New York Filipino Reporter 3/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York West Side Spirit 5/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Our Town Downtown 3/21/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Chelsea Now 10/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Our Town 3/12/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Forward 5/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York City Hall 7/14/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Desi Talk 11/24/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Post 11/22/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Irish Voice 2/15/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Daily News 1/4/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Plattsburgh Plattsburgh Republican 4/12/1811 – 6/22/1861 Newspaper Archives
Plattsburgh American Monitor 8/4/1809 – 11/10/1810 Newspaper Archives
Plattsburgh Political Observatory 4/12/1811 – 8/24/1811 Newspaper Archives
Plattsburgh Northern Herald 1/11/1812 – 8/26/1814 Newspaper Archives
Plattsburgh Clinton Advertiser 11/17/1810 – 1/12/1811 Newspaper Archives
Plattsburgh Plattsburgh Herald 1/20/1815 – 7/21/1815 Newspaper Archives
Plattsburgh Press-Republican 1/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Plattsburgh Burgh 8/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Poughkeepsie Poughkeepsie Journal 7/14/1789 – 12/13/1845 Newspaper Archives
Poughkeepsie Political Barometer 6/8/1802 – 8/21/1811 Newspaper Archives
Poughkeepsie Independence 2/8/1832 – 1/29/1834 Newspaper Archives
Poughkeepsie Dutchess Observer 7/24/1816 – 4/26/1826 Newspaper Archives
Poughkeepsie Country Journal 12/15/1785 – 7/7/1789 Newspaper Archives
Poughkeepsie Ulster Republican 1/6/1836 – 11/18/1836 Newspaper Archives
Schenectady Cabinet 7/24/1810 – 6/1/1858 Newspaper Archives
Schenectady Mohawk Mercury 2/9/1795 – 3/13/1798 Newspaper Archives
Schenectady Western Budget 7/25/1807 – 5/8/1810 Newspaper Archives
Schenectady Daily Gazette 8/16/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Schenectady Schenectady County Spotlight 8/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Northern Christian Advocate 1/9/1879 – 12/23/1909 Newspaper Archives
Syracuse Eagle 8/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Post-Standard 1/1/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Post-Standard, The: Web Edition Articles 10/21/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Eagle News Online 7/24/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Syracuse Herald-Journal 12/8/1986 – 8/30/2001 Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Post-Standard, The: Blogs 2/18/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Syracuse Syracuse Herald American 12/7/1986 – 9/23/2001 Recent Obituaries
Troy Times 7/25/1863 – 3/31/1903 Newspaper Archives
Troy Farmers’ Register 1/25/1803 – 12/25/1820 Newspaper Archives
Troy Troy Gazette 9/15/1802 – 3/17/1812 Newspaper Archives
Troy American Spy 6/17/1791 – 2/27/1798 Newspaper Archives
Troy Troy Post 9/1/1812 – 3/18/1823 Newspaper Archives
Troy Record 4/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Utica Columbian Gazette 1/7/1805 – 1/30/1821 Newspaper Archives
Utica Patriot 2/28/1803 – 12/26/1820 Newspaper Archives
Utica Patrol 1/5/1815 – 1/1/1816 Newspaper Archives
Utica Whitestown Gazette and Cato’s Patrol 9/3/1798 – 2/21/1803 Newspaper Archives
Utica Utica Club 8/25/1814 – 5/15/1815 Newspaper Archives
Utica Observer-Dispatch 12/21/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Watertown Watertown Daily Times 1/5/1870 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
Watertown New-York Daily Reformer 4/22/1861 – 12/31/1869 Newspaper Archives
Watertown New York Reformer 9/5/1850 – 4/18/1861 Newspaper Archives
Watertown Watertown Daily Times 1/20/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yonkers Eastchester Rising 10/31/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yonkers Yonkers Rising 11/14/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yonkers Westchester Rising 1/16/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yonkers North Castle Rising 1/23/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yonkers Sound View Rising 1/16/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yonkers Yonkers Tribune 3/8/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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Remembering the Amazing Life of Maya Angelou

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Last Name

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

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

Bennington Banner (Bennington, Vermont), 29 May 2014

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

obituary for Maya Angelou, Blade newspaper article 29 May 2014

Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 29 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

obituary for Maya Angelou, Blade newspaper article 29 May 2014

Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 29 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Last Name

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

This African American Kansas newspaper said this of Angelou.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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His Life for His Son’s: The Story of My Cousin Isaac Smith

I recently found compelling newspaper articles about a local New York baker who lost his life while saving his drowning son.

A distant cousin wrote me last week and mentioned that a mutual cousin of ours, Isaac Smith, had died while trying to rescue his son back in the 1800s. I thought, that sounds like a story that a newspaper would pick up – so I headed to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to find the rest of that story.

I quickly found not one – but three articles on this tragedy.

article about W. Isaac Smith drowning while strying to save his son, New York Herald newspaper article 24 June 1895

New York Herald (New York, New York), 24 June 1895, page 5

The drowning happened at a company picnic at Oakland Beach in Rye, New York.

According to the newspaper article, Isaac never took time off from his bakery. The picnic he organized was his first break from work in ten years. The news article goes on to describe the grim details of his death while rescuing his drowning son.

article about W. Isaac Smith drowning while trying to save his son, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 24 June 1895

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 24 June 1895, page 1

According to the other two articles I found, Isaac died of a heart attack – likely brought on by the urgency, fear and stress of finding and rescuing his son Gordon Smith, who was 15 years old.

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Thanks to these old newspaper articles, my connection to William Isaac Smith went beyond the dates and places. The details and people involved in saving Gordon Smith’s life helped me see into the lives of my relatives in a unique way that is now preserved forever. These newspaper articles provided more than the “facts” so that I could see my relatives as they lived – and died. I got the details of this tragedy – but also sprinkled through there were the details of William Isaac Smith’s character, work ethic and business success that led him to open not just one bakery, but two more in neighboring towns.

article about W. Isaac Smith drowning while trying to save his son, New York Herald Tribune newspaper article 24 June 1895

New York Herald Tribune (New York, New York), 24 June 1895, page 7

Isaac ran a “wholesale bakery” in White Plains that branched out with bakeries in Tarrytown and Port Chester. By the young age of 43, he had provided financial security for his wife and children, and served his employees faithfully. These newspaper clippings on the accident provide amazing details that I would not have found anywhere else – describing not just this tragic incident, but details of the character of my cousin.

GenealogyBank has become a core “go-to,” reliable resource for learning about and writing the history of your family. Newspapers are the only place that genealogists can find the stories of their relatives.

Beyond the dates and places and news of the day are the stories of our grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Only GenealogyBank provides access to over 1.7 billion newspaper records that tell the stories our ancestors cannot. Thanks to our digital archival technology, our records can be made available to you at the click of a mouse. Sign up today and discover stories you might otherwise never have known about your family. Start your 30-day trial now!

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Tamales: One of My Family’s Favorite Hispanic Foods

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 find recipes for one of her family’s favorites: tamales.

Every now and then my family goes out and purchase tamales to have for dinner. It’s one of those Hispanic food traditions we look forward to. While some families like ours purchase the tamales, others have a generational tradition of getting together and making dozens of tamales for family and friends. Eating tamales is one example of a family food tradition that’s been passed down through the generations.

photo of tamales

Photo: tamales. Credit: the author.

What Are Tamales?

Never had tamales? Tamales can be traced way back to 7000 B.C., when Aztec women accompanied men into battle to cook for them. Today tamales, depending on where and who is making them, can vary ingredient-wise and what the tamale is wrapped in. In fact, tamales even differ regionally in the United States. Tamales are made from a corn-based meal that is stuffed with fruits, meats, cheese or chili peppers, and then wrapped in a corn husk, banana leaf, or parchment paper and steamed. Some people serve the tamales covered in a red or green sauce, while others may eat them without a sauce topping. Tamales may be spicy hot, made with no chili peppers, or even be sweet. People may think of tamales as a traditional food made at home but actually, in the United States, tamales have been sold since the late 1800s.

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Tamale Recipes Anyone?

Maybe store bought tamales aren’t good enough, and you want to try cooking your own homemade. Preparing tamales can be a lot of work – but so worth it! Here’s one recipe from 1899 for chicken tamales.

tamales recipe, Daily Herald newspaper article 11 June 1899

Daily Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), 11 June 1899, page 3

Another tamale recipe provided by famed New York food writer Craig Claiborne not only provides a recipe but includes the family history behind it. Mable Grimes talks about using her mother’s recipe during the Great Depression and making 150-200 a week to sell for 50 cents a dozen.

article about Mable Grimes and her Texas tamales, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 27 May 1971

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 27 May 1971, section E, page 15

Tamales for Sale

Like I mentioned before, making tamales is hard work; that’s why some people prefer to purchase them instead of cooking them from scratch at home. Buying them pre-made doesn’t seem to be a more recent idea; here’s an advertisement from Idaho in 1912.

tamales for sale ad, Idaho Statesman newspaper advertisement 21 December 1912

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 21 December 1912, page 9

Probably my favorite advertisement for tamales is this 1893 one from Southern California that includes a poem:

Tamales, they say, are hotter today,
Hotter than they were last week.
To have them just right
You must try them each night,
Tamales each night you must eat.

tamales for sale ad featuring a poem about tamales, Riverside Independent Enterprise newspaper advertisement 24 September 1893

Riverside Independent Enterprise (Riverside, California), 24 September 1893, page 1

That tamale maker doesn’t just want to sell you tamales once in a while; he wants to sell them to you “every evening.”

What Else Is for Dinner?

What other foods are served with tamales? In our family we typically serve pozole, a hominy and pork-based soup, but you might also want to add marzipan, buñuelos (a fried dough ball), champurrado (a chocolate-based drink served warm), and turron (a honey-based candy) to the dinner table. A holiday food served around Christmas time is Rosca de Reyes (a sweet, round bread decorated with candies or crystallized fruit to celebrate Epiphany).

article about Rosca de Reyes including a recipe, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 8 December 1971

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 8 December 1971, page 53

GenealogyBank’s Hispanic American Newspaper Archives include English- and Spanish-language newspapers from across the United States. You can find traditional Hispanic recipes printed in these newspapers for all types of foods.

For example, are you looking for a recipe for buñuelos? Browsing the San Antonio, Texas, newspaper Prensa we find these articles: “Buñuelos de Molde en Forma de Rosa” (12 February 1944); “Buñuelos de Manzanas” (9 November 1935); and “Buñuelos de Viento” (1 November 1925). In this column below, “Recetas de Cocina,” there is a recipe for Buñuelos de Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese).

recipe for Buñuelos de Queso Fresco, Prensa newspaper article 28 December 1925

Prensa (San Antonio, Texas), 28 December 1925, page 5

Whether you serve tamales with pozole, and buñuelos for dessert, or something entirely different, here’s wishing you many happy family food traditions and memories.

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World War II Japanese American Relocation Camp Newspapers

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

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

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

Birth, Marriage and Death Notices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWII-Era Departures

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

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

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

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

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

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