The Three Stooges’ Story Told in Their Obituaries

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over nine years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” In this blog post, Duncan searches GenealogyBank’s obituaries collection to learn more about the zany comedy act “The Three Stooges.”

The Three Stooges, active from 1925 to 1970, were one of the most endearing and entertaining comedy acts that many of us grew up watching. The characters of Moe, Larry, and Curly made us laugh. They were prolific producers of short comedy films – at their peak, they produced eight shorts every year! I recently spent some time learning more about these beloved comedians by finding their obituaries in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

The dynamic trio originally got their start as stooges (Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine) for Ted Healy. Shemp and Ted didn’t work well together and Shemp moved on to other projects. Jerome a.k.a. “Curly,” Moe and Shemp’s younger brother, then took Shemp’s place and the trio eventually left Healy to form their own comedy act, “The Three Stooges.” Curly remained one of the Stooges until his debilitating stroke in 1946. He was known for his high-pitched voice and childlike antics. He died in a care center on 18 January 1952.

obituary for Jerome "Curly" Howard, Oregonian newspaper article 20 January 1952

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 20 January 1952, page 11

Shemp returned to the act after Jerome’s stroke to fill in for his brother. What was supposed to be a temporary gig lasted for several years. Shemp filled in until his death of heart failure on 22 November 1955. Other stooges filled in for Shemp in the following years.

obituary for Sam (Shemp) Howard, Sacramento Bee newspaper article 23 November 1955

Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California), 23 November 1955, page 1

Larry provided the voice of reason for the group, although his character wasn’t very reasonable. He died on 24 January 1975 of a stroke.

obituary for Larry Fine, San Diego Union newspaper article 25 January 1975

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 25 January 1975, page 15

While most of the Stooges struggled with finances, Moe was a wise businessman and invested his earnings. His onscreen character was a bully, but that didn’t reflect his true personality. He was 77 when he died of lung cancer on 4 May 1975.

obituary for Moe Howard, San Diego Union newspaper article 6 May 1975

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 6 May 1975, page 10

As people have indexed some of the Stooges’ obituaries as part of the GenealogyBank and FamilySearch agreement, memories of happy childhood experiences have flooded back. While The Three Stooges have all died, they continue to bring joy to others through the lasting legacy of their comedy.

Note: FamilySearch International ( 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:

Related Articles:

Resources to Trace African American Slave Ancestry

FamilySearch recently announced it is working with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society and the California African American Museum to crowdsource the online indexing of 1.5 million Freedman’s Bureau records that FamilySearch has put online.

This is a great resource to start learning about African American slaves in early American history. Is it possible to find out more about these slaves – the actual stories of their individual lives? Can we know what happened to each one?

photo of a slave cabin

Photo: slave cabin. Source: Library of Congress.

In some cases, yes – we can.

There are two key sources for these African American slave stories.

Slave Stories in Newspapers

Some of these black slave stories can be found in old newspapers. GenealogyBank’s 1.8 billion news stories are available – with unlimited downloads – at a nominal monthly or annual fee, making them easily available to genealogists everywhere.

a montage of newspaper articles about former slaves

As the nation grew so did newspapers – and newspapers recorded and preserved our ancestors’ stories.

Enter Last Name

For example, in newspapers we can learn the story of 79-year-old “Uncle Reuben” Taylor who grew up a slave on a farm near Baltimore, Maryland, was freed in 1863, and launched his career over the next 57 years delivering coal in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) 31 December 1920, page 7 tells us that he then retired to live with his daughter in Chicago.

Dig in and find your ancestors’ stories in GenealogyBank’s newspaper vault 1690 to Today.

a montage of newspaper articles from African American newspapers

Note that GenealogyBank also has a special search for our expansive online collection of more than 260 African American newspapers, which contains some of the earliest black publications such as Frederick Douglass’ Paper, an early anti-slavery newspaper by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Access our African American newspaper archive here:

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938

The Library of Congress has digitized and put online the collection of all 2,300+ first-person interviews with former slaves that were conducted by the Federal Writers’ Project from 1936-1938.

a photo of three ex-slaves interviewed for the by the Federal Writers’ Project from 1936-1938

Source: Library of Congress

These one-on-one slave interviews are invaluable.

The typescripts retain the tone of the person being interviewed. Reading the pages, you quickly can “hear” them speaking to you today.

Robert Bryant lived in Herculaneum, Mississippi – here is his story.
Find his story – and the story of thousands of others in this online collection.

ex-slave Robert Bryant's story as told to the Federal Writers’ Project

Source: Library of Congress

Real people. Real stories. Real lives.
These stories give you the opportunity to glimpse the life of a slave – as told one story at a time.

Get to know them – read and experience their stories.

Related African American Slavery Articles:

Hawaii Archives: 25 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Hawaii, the most recent addition to the United States, became the nation’s 50th state when it joined the Union on 21 August 1959. The only U.S. state not located in the Americas, the state of Hawaii is a string of islands located in the central Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is the country’s 8th smallest state and the 11th least populous.

photo of Punaluu Beach Park, Big Island, Hawaii

Photo: Punaluu Beach Park, Big Island, Hawaii. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Hawaii, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online HI newspaper archives: 25 titles to help you search your family history in “The Aloha State,” providing coverage from 1836 to Today. There are more than 166,000 articles and records in our online Hawaii newspaper archives! These historical HI newspapers are fantastic resources to trace back Native Hawaiian and Polynesian ancestry.

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

Search Hawaii Newspaper Archives (1836 – 1991)

Search Hawaii Recent Obituaries (1999 – Current)

Illustration: state flag of Hawaii

Illustration: state flag of Hawaii. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Here is a list of online Hawaii newspapers in the historical 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 HI newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Hilo Big Island Weekly 04/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hilo Hawaii Tribune-Herald 07/28/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Honolulu Hawaii Independent 06/21/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Honolulu Polynesian 06/06/1840 – 09/11/1858 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Afro-Hawai’i News 01/31/1989 – 12/31/1991 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Hawaii Reporter 10/21/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Honolulu Pacific Commercial Advertiser 07/02/1856 – 05/13/1876 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Temperance Advocate 01/01/1843 – 12/02/1843 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Hawaiian Gazette 11/04/1865 – 03/28/1893 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Honolulu Star-Bulletin 01/01/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Honolulu Sandwich Islands News 09/02/1846 – 12/23/1846 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Friend 01/01/1844 – 12/01/1880 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Sandwich Island Gazette and Journal of Commerce 08/06/1836 – 07/27/1839 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Honolulu Star-Advertiser 06/07/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Honolulu Folio 11/16/1855 – 11/16/1855 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Punch Bowl 07/01/1869 – 09/01/1869 Newspaper Archives
Honolulu Honolulu Advertiser 01/01/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kailua-Kona West Hawaii Today 09/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kamuela North Hawaii News 03/29/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kaunakakai Molokai Dispatch 07/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laie Ke Alaka’i 09/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lihue MidWeek Kaua’i Weekly 06/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lihue Garden Island 11/10/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pearl City Afro-Hawai’i News 06/01/1987 – 10/31/1988 Newspaper Archives
Waialua Afro-Hawai’i News 04/30/1990 – 05/31/1990 Newspaper Archives

*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 Hawaii newspaper links will be live.

Related Resource:

Google Remembers Olympian & Surfer Duke Kahanamoku

This week’s Google Doodle honors famed five-time Olympic medalist, Hawaiian athlete and swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), who was born 24 August 1890 in Hawaii. He was known as the “Father of Surfing.”

a Google Doodle of Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku

Source: Google

Here is a 1965 interview with him by Bruce Brown at the start of the first annual Duke Kahanamoku invitational surfing competition. Source:

There are hundreds of old news articles in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives that detailed his remarkable surfing career – which lasted more than 50 years.

article about Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku, Oregonian newspaper article 24 September 1917

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 24 September 1917, page 10

Discover more about Kahanamoku’s life and amazing success in professional surfing in the historical archives now:

GenealogyBank is your source for more than 300 years of America’s history.

Vintage Fashion: Our Ancestors’ Summer Apparel

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 articles and advertisements that show what our ancestors wore during the hot summer months.

I don’t know about where you live, but here in California it is HOT. This week has been hot and humid, something we are not as used to since we normally live with a “dry heat.” So as the temperature goes up people try all sorts of ways to keep cool, including altering the way they normally dress. A few days ago I was standing in line at the bank and a woman in her bathing suit was in front of me! Because it is warm all year long here, I would say the concept of “summer fashion” is lost on most of us Californians.

Typically in most places, however, each season brings with it new fashions. It wasn’t too terribly long ago that our ancestors learned about the newest fashion trends via the newspaper. And while swimsuits are a summer fashion must-have (see Great-Grandmother’s Swimsuit in Vintage Fashion Articles & Photos), other summer fashions are important for outdoor activities, social events, and vacationing.

bathing suit ad, Charlotte Observer newspaper advertisement 11 July 1916

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 11 July 1916, page 7

Summer Fashions of Yesteryear

I am grateful fashion trends have changed over the generations because some of the older apparel trends included way too much fabric to wear during hot summer months. Take this 1906 example from Louisiana. The Gibson girl look is well represented in these summer dresses, which are described as being “light” and made from “filmy fabrics.” And while I have no doubt that these linen dresses were much lighter than women’s standard fare at that time, I am grateful I didn’t have to wear that much fabric in a time when air conditioning wasn’t available.

summer fashions ad, Times-Picayune newspaper advertisement 11 February 1906

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 11 February 1906, page 5

I have to admit I love looking at vintage fashions from the 1920s, and newspaper advertisements provide us with a sense of what clothing was really available to our ancestors for purchase. Sure, it’s interesting to see what models were wearing at fashion shows, but newspaper advertisements verify what styles of apparel were available for the common family.

Take for instance this short-sleeved frock. The reader is informed that “The whole background of summer fashions is white” and the use of “dainty pleatings and exquisite lace trimmings” can be seen in the fashions of 1924.

ad for summer clothes, Plain Dealer newspaper advertisement 25 May 1924

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 25 May 1924, page 49

Similarly-styled dresses can be seen in an advertisement on the same page of the Plain Dealer, that proclaims:

When summer comes – it must not find us unprepared. Filmy Frocks of printed or plain georgette, crepe or chiffon, embellished with lace, embroidery or beads, in themselves suggest vine shaded verandas and light laughter, or the joys of the summer evening dance.

ad for summer clothes, Plain Dealer newspaper advertisement 25 May 1924

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 25 May 1924, page 49

Looking toward Hollywood

Celebrity has always attracted attention – and there is no doubt that, just like today, people have always been interested in what was being worn by the rich and famous. I love the description of the outfits in this 1939 article entitled “Ladies of the Screen Vie with Each Other in Wearing Latest in Summer Fashions.”

Ladies of the Screen Vie with Each Other in Wearing Latest in Summer Fashions, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 5 June 1939

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 5 June 1939, page 4

One of the stars mentioned in the piece is Margaret Sullavan who starred opposite Jimmy Stewart in the movie Shop Around the Corner, the inspiration for the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail. Sullavan’s outfit is described as:

…new hostess pajamas, the latest in lounging comfort, combine pigskin with a heavy roma crepe. The blond star chooses a watermelon pink shade for the very full trousers, with shirred bodice draped from the plain round neckline. A wide, natural-colored pigskin girdle, studded in silver nailheads, individualizes the suit, and, with it, Miss Sullavan wears a heavy cord snood to keep her curls in line.

Most likely the use of the word pigskin here indicates a type of leather.

A more summer-sounding outfit in the article is described as worn by Lupe Velez who:

…relaxing recently at Palm Springs, wore transparent oilskin fuchsia-colored slacks and bolero over a fuchsia and white striped oil-silk puckerette bathing suit.

(Oil-silk, incidentally, is a material much like that used for men’s tobacco pouches.)


What did those summer fashions cost our ancestors? I mentioned above how advertisements can provide us images of fashions that were available to our families, but they can also answer questions about the price of the apparel. This large 1933 newspaper advertisement includes sale prices for everything from wool bathing suits to summer coats and dresses.


ad for summer clothes, Daily Illinois State Journal newspaper article 20 July 1933

Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, Illinois), 20 July 1933, page 11

What shoes would they have worn with that summer wardrobe? Today we mostly think of sandals and flip-flops as summer ware, but fashionistas know you need much more. This ad offers shoes for $1.95 a pair:

Every style in this sale was selected for fashion-rightness. Shoes for all summer occasions – in models for street, sports, daytime and summer resort wear.

Notice that they proclaim to have plenty of white shoes in stock, since white was traditionally worn during the summer months or specifically after Memorial Day and before Labor Day; a fashion “rule” most likely established by high society women to distinguish themselves from everyone else.

ad for summer shoes, Evening Star newspaper advertisement 13 May 1934

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 13 May 1934, page 26

When you find an old newspaper fashion advertisement, take the time to research what the price would translate to in today’s world. Various websites including Measuring Worth can assist you in converting those prices into modern-day sums.

What did your ancestors wear during the summer? While our ideas about what constitutes summer wear have changed over the generations, it’s a good bet that your ancestors chose outfits that would have helped them beat the heat. What did your ancestors wear? Their hometown newspapers provide clues.

Related Fashion Articles:

August Update: 4 Million Genealogy Records Just Added!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, expanding our burgeoning collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online. We just completed adding 4 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's homepage showing the Monthly Update for the month of August

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

  • A total of 30 newspaper titles from 19 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia
  • 10 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

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

State City Title Date Range Collection
California Idyllwild Idyllwild Town Crier 11/1/1946–12/20/1947 Newspaper Archives
California Redding Free Press 1/2/1892–12/31/1892 Newspaper Archives
California Riverside Riverside Daily Press 4/1/1941–6/30/1941 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1871–8/31/1984 Newspaper Archives
Connecticut Cheshire Cheshire Citizen, The* 11/20/2012–Current Recent Obituaries
Connecticut New Canaan New Canaan Messenger 1/2/1904–12/25/1909 Newspaper Archives
District of Columbia Washington (DC) Washington Times 3/1/1982–10/31/1989 Newspaper Archives
Idaho Boise Idaho Statesman 10/21/1886–12/6/1970 Newspaper Archives
Idaho Idaho Falls Idaho Falls Times* 5/16/1966–5/31/1966 Newspaper Archives
Indiana Evansville Evansville Courier and Press 1/1/1932–12/31/1937 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald-Leader* 3/1/1951–1/8/1984 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Leader 1/1/1965–9/15/1981 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans States 11/1/1923–11/30/1928 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 1/1/1860–9/3/1860 Newspaper Archives
Maryland Baltimore Sun 1/28/1921–2/20/1921 Newspaper Archives
Massachusetts Manomet Manomet Current, The* 04/27/2011–Current Recent Obituaries
Mississippi Biloxi Daily Herald* 4/1/1953–12/31/1955 Newspaper Archives
Missouri Kansas City Kansas City Star 5/27/1945–7/12/1945 Newspaper Archives
New Mexico Albuquerque Albuquerque Morning Democrat 9/20/1882–12/30/1885 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Journal 4/1/1921–12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Cleveland Cleveland Leader 7/6/1902–7/6/1902 Newspaper Archives
Oklahoma Coweta Coweta American* 03/13/2006–Current Recent Obituaries
Pennsylvania Bristol* 03/13/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 7/1/1988–12/31/1996 Newspaper Archives
South Carolina Charleston Charleston News and Courier 5/1/1970–5/1/1970 Newspaper Archives
South Carolina Charleston Evening Post 11/1/1977–11/30/1977 Newspaper Archives
Texas Austin Texas State Gazette 8/25/1849–6/7/1851 Newspaper Archives
Texas San Angelo San Angelo LIVE!* 06/09/2015–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Dumfries, Stafford, Woodbridge Potomac Local* 06/28/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
West Virginia Charleston Charleston Gazette-Mail* 07/20/2015–Current Recent Obituaries

Related Articles:

Was Your Ancestor’s Marriage Certificate Filed Late?

Everyone is familiar with the regulations that couples wanting to be married need to register and obtain a marriage certificate. This document permits them to be wed by a justice of the peace, minister or other authorized official.

Pastors Liable to Heavy Fines, Oregonian newspaper article 2 September 1906

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 2 September 1906, page 36

Perhaps less well known is the question: Who returns the signed and completed marriage certificate to the town hall or county registrar?

That was the responsibility of the minister or person performing the wedding.
But – sometimes they never filed the paperwork with the government, or filed it very late.

Enter Last Name

The Oregonian reported on this problem in 1906, reporting that: “In years gone by…many marriage certificates were never returned at all.”

The old news article went on to cite multiple examples of late filing of the documents.

article about Rev. Ghormley being fined for filing marriage certificates late, Oregonian newspaper article 2 September 1906

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 2 September 1906, page 36

For example, the Greenwood-Mitchell marriage certificate wasn’t filed until six years after their marriage. Cases like this can make it difficult for genealogists to locate their ancestors’ marriage certificate.

Genealogy Tip:

When you are searching for a birth, marriage or death certificate, remember: they are often filed in chronological order by the date that they are received in the clerk’s office, not necessarily the date of the event. Be sure to search for several years after you believe the event occurred to make sure you find the certificate. Registrars often received “Delayed Registrations” years after the event occurred.

Related Articles:

Alaska Archives: 29 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Although Alaska is the largest of the United States, it is the nation’s 4th least populous state. The territory was purchased from Russia on 30 March 1867 for the incredibly low price of only two cents per acre. Alaska became the 49th state when it was admitted into the Union on 3 January 1959.

photo of Denali - Mt. McKinley, Alaska, the highest point in North America

Photo: Denali – Mt. McKinley, Alaska, the highest point in North America. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Alaska, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online AK newspaper archives: 29 titles to help you search your family history in “The Last Frontier,” providing coverage from 1869 to Today. There are more than 1 million articles and records in our online Alaska newspaper archives!

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

Search Alaska Newspaper Archives (1869 – 1993)

Search Alaska Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

illustration: state flag of Alaska

Illustration: state flag of Alaska. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Here is a list of online Alaska newspapers in the historical 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 AK newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Anchorage Alaska Dispatch 10/15/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anchorage Alaska Spotlight 07/28/1956 – 11/30/1968 Newspaper Archives
Anchorage Arctic Sounder 06/28/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anchorage Arctic Warrior, The: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson 06/03/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anchorage Bristol Bay Times & Dutch Harbor Fisherman 06/07/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anchorage Anchorage Daily News: Web Edition Articles 12/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anchorage Anchorage Daily News 10/03/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anchorage Anchorage Gazette 12/01/1992 – 01/01/1993 Newspaper Archives
Anchorage Anchorage Daily News 12/01/1970 – 12/30/1972 Newspaper Archives
Anchorage Alaska Dispatch News 07/08/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethel Tundra Drums 11/28/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethel Delta Discovery 07/15/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cordova Cordova Times 04/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairbanks Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 09/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairbanks Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 11/29/1917 – 03/16/1928 Newspaper Archives
Fort Adams Yukon Press 05/01/1894 – 05/01/1894 Newspaper Archives
Healy Aurora Borealis 12/31/1898 – 03/01/1899 Newspaper Archives
Juneau Daily Record-Miner 02/23/1903 – 05/08/1911 Newspaper Archives
Juneau Juneau Empire 01/02/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Juneau Alaska Mining Record 03/26/1891 – 12/27/1899 Newspaper Archives
Juneau Daily Alaska Dispatch 01/20/1900 – 09/28/1919 Newspaper Archives
Kenai Peninsula Clarion 08/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kodiak Kodiak Daily Mirror 01/10/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Nome Nome Nugget 01/06/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seward Seward Phoenix LOG 08/25/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sitka Alaska Times 11/06/1869 – 12/25/1869 Newspaper Archives
Sitka Daily Sitka Sentinel 01/09/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sitka Alaskan 11/07/1885 – 08/02/1893 Newspaper Archives
Wasilla Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman 09/13/2002 – 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 Alaska newspaper links will be live.

Related Resource:

Ancestor Weddings: Genealogy Tips for Finding the Dress

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog article, Mary searches old newspapers to find a variety of pictures and articles about our ancestors’ wedding dresses.

Historical newspapers not only give you the names and dates you need to fill in your family tree – they provide your ancestors’ stories, to help you better understand the lives they led and the times they lived in. You can use old newspapers to explore many aspects of your ancestors’ lives. For example, your ancestors’ wedding dresses and other wedding attire are great fun to research in historical newspapers.

GenealogyBank has an entire search category devoted to Marriage Records & Engagement Announcements in Newspapers, many of which describe your ancestors’ wedding garments – but don’t stop there. Look in other parts of the historical newspapers, such as advertisements, fashion pages, photos, illustrations, and the occasional obituary.

wedding announcement for Mae Robinson and Gordon Jackson, Broad Ax newspaper article 8 March 1924

Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois), 8 March 1924, page 1

Many old newspaper articles and advertisements feature what were then the latest popular wedding fashion styles, such as this 1936 ad, which notes:

Perhaps the most unusual wedding dress we’ve seen this season, is the rich ribbed ottoman dress with a new wide puffed shoulder, at $89.50. For it, we’ve designed the veil garlanded with silver leaves – and silver with white is a new and quite unusual fashion. $30.

ad for wedding gowns, Boston Herald newspaper article 11 March 1936

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 11 March 1936, page 3

Dame Fashion

A somewhat forgotten term to use in your newspaper search is the keyword “dame fashion.”

As noted in this fashion column of 1883, bride and bridesmaid dresses were discussed “ad libitum” back then, along with the latest trends and embellishments. For example, this author wrote:

Iridescent beads are used a little in white dresses, but not much, although they are still seen on colored costumes. Amber beads in brown and old gold combinations are much used, but hardly ever on other colors. Where silver brocade is used for wedding dresses, occasionally silver fringe, hardly as heavy as bullion, but partaking of its brilliance, is employed.

article about wedding fashions, Truth newspaper article 11 November 1883

Truth (New York, New York), 11 November 1883, page 2

Missing Wedding Dress Heirlooms

For many brides, tradition dictates wearing a family gown – but if you’re wondering why Great Grandma’s wedding dress didn’t pass through the family, perhaps she was buried in it!

Such was the case with Mrs. Mary Brown of Danville, Kentucky, who passed away in 1907 at the age of 90. For the burial, she was dressed in her wedding dress of 70 years earlier. This was most likely a loving tribute – but from a practical standpoint, one has to wonder if the younger women of the family were relieved they were now able to choose a more modern bridal gown style.

obituary for Mary Brown, Lexington Herald newspaper article 19 August 1907

Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 19 August 1907, page 2

Wedding Dress Rentals

Another reason why heirloom wedding dresses sometimes don’t exist is that they were often rented.

Notice in 1901 that this Philadelphia merchant ran a prosperous business hiring out wedding dresses to those with limited finances. All sizes and shapes of bridal gowns were available. Three or four brides a day paid fees from $3 to $10 for gowns, or up to $25 for a more elegant “queenly” option, reminiscent of a Parisian design.

Due to the cost, this particular selection went out very little, except to be shown to prospective customers.

article about wedding gown rentals, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 28 July 1901

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 28 July 1901, page 5

Did Grandma Wear White?

An astonishing fact about our ancestors is that not every bride wore white. The same newspaper article reported a virtual rainbow of colors:

The prevailing color of the garments is of course white, but in the world of those who hire wedding dresses, blue and pink weddings are not infrequent, and even yellow and green have been known… He had even a red wedding gown, a bright, startling affair of some kind of soft, fluffy material. Beside the red was a gown of black and white, a very pleasing white silk, and over this a silk mousseline, over which in turn were many yards of black velvet ribbon, with narrow threads of black lace running up and down…

Multiple Wedding Dresses

It’s normal to think that our female ancestors only had one wedding dress – but if one could afford it, attire was commonly procured for each wedding event: from the bridal showers to the ceremony to the honeymoon.

Mme. Nilsson’s engagement to Count de Casa Miranda illustrates the point. At the Registrar’s office this wedding diva planned to wear a pale blue surah dress, embroidered with point d’Angelterre and a bonnet to match:

The wedding dress at the religious ceremony will be a very pale heliotrope peluche, with gauze in front, trimmed with a delicate lilac claire de lune, jet collar, high, trimmed with pearls; tulle bonnet to match, trimmed with pearls and a bunch of tea roses.

wedding announcement for Mme. Nilsson and Count de Casa Miranda, New York Herald newspaper article 9 July 1885

New York Herald (New York, New York), 9 July 1885, page 5

Dating Photographs and Heirlooms

Don’t underestimate the value of a newspaper in dating family treasures.

From early time periods, milliners, merchants, dress makers and tailors advertised goods and services in the papers. For instance, in 1834, splendid white crape robes and lace veils were advertised by this New York merchant.

clothing ad, Evening Post newspaper advertisement 13 October 1834

Evening Post (New York, New York), 13 October 1834, page 2

Bridal dresses from other cultures fascinated our ancestors as they do us today, so even if you can’t find an ancestral photo, look for examples among photos and illustrations.

photo of a Korean bride, Baltimore American newspaper article 20 August 1905

Baltimore American (Baltimore, Maryland), 20 August 1905, page 6

Share Your Family Wedding Photos

Lastly, don’t forget to share your family wedding photos on social media and popular genealogy sites. Include pictures of your ancestors that you find in newspapers, such as Belle Wyatt Willard Roosevelt (1892-1968), the daughter-in-law of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was fortunate to be featured in a historical newspaper article in 1914.

wedding photo of Belle Wyatt Willard Roosevelt, Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper article 26 June 1914

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, Michigan), 26 June 1914, page 9

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Did Your Ancestor Fight at the Battle of Monmouth?

Did your ancestor fight at the Battle of Monmouth during the Revolutionary War?

Painting: “Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth,” by Emanuel Leutze

Painting: “Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth,” by Emanuel Leutze, before 1854. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

My cousin Joel Pratt (1752-1844) did and his obituary records some of his personal recollections of that battle.

obituary for Joel Pratt, Times newspaper article 30 November 1844

Times (Hartford, Connecticut), 30 November 1844, page 1

We learn that in the Battle of Saratoga and the Battle of Monmouth, “…he carried the colors of his regiment.”

At the battle of Monmouth…he saw Gen. Lafayette …say, with his foreign accent, “Hold up your heads, my lads, we’ll pick at the fine clothes by and by.”

That must have been really cool.
Calling the Brits the “fine clothes” – the men would have loved that; a touch of Mel Gibson or John Wayne. A great line – glad I found it recorded in his obituary.

I wonder who else fought with him at the Battle of Monmouth? Are there more memories of the battle recorded in their obituaries?

Did these soldiers’ letters or diaries from that battle survive? Are these personal writings available and online today? Perhaps some of these old documents even mention my cousin, Joel Pratt.

One way you can find the answers to those questions is by searching the old newspapers by keyword for mention of the Battle of Monmouth.

screenshot of the GenealogyBank search box showing a search for the "Battle of Monmouth"

For example, a quick keyword search in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives for “Battle of Monmouth” generated over 3,300 search results.

screenshot of the search results in GenealogyBank for the search "Battle of Monmouth"

Great – that gives me a lot of relevant historical newspaper articles to go through.

I can sort this list of old newspaper articles chronologically and read about the battle as it happened – or I can read through them by topic. For example, I can look at the 70 obituaries that are cited to see what information is given in each one.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search results for a search for the "Battle of Monmouth" showing how many obituaries there are

This obituary of Adam Hoffains (1756-1827) was published in the Boston Recorder (Boston, Massachusetts), 24 August 1837, page 135.

His obituary tells us that:

He was in the battle of Monmouth and was one of twelve who survived the battle, of a whole company. He was also at the battle of Bunker Hill.

In Captain Ephraim Whitaker’s (1755-1846) obituary published in the North American (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 16 July 1846, page 1, we learn that he was also in the Battle of Monmouth.

The battle of Monmouth was fought on one of the hottest and most sultry days in June (28th). Captain W. bore his full share in the heat, burden and danger of the day; he received a shot through his cap and another through his canteen, spilling the liquor with which it had been supplied in the morning.

Solomon Parsons (1757-1831) was also in the Battle of Monmouth. His obituary published in the Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), 24 May 1831, page 3, records:

He enlisted at the age of 20, and was at the battle of Saratoga and taking of Burgoyne. He continued in the army till the battle of Monmouth, in June, 1778, when he was discharged on account of the wounds he received on that occasion.

Going through each obituary, you learn about the lives of real men, the real stories of those that fought in the battle with Joel Pratt.

Newspapers are published every day, 365 days a year.
Look and find your ancestors’ stories and the experiences of those who fought with them.

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