My Ancestor’s Trip to America: Newspapers Tell the Story

I knew my ancestor William Kemp had come to America – but I didn’t know anything about the trip itself. What was it like for him as an immigrant traveling by passenger ship across the ocean to the new frontier?

Could GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives help me find the answer?

I knew that William came to America on board the ship Benjamin Adams, arriving 21 October 1853. He left from Liverpool, England, and arrived in New York City.

painting: “The Bay and Harbor of New York” by Samuel Waugh (1814-1885)

Painting: “The Bay and Harbor of New York” by Samuel Waugh (1814-1885). Source: Wikipedia.

Since I knew that shipping was big business, I wondered if newspapers could tell me more about the movements of the Benjamin Adams and William’s trip to America.

In testing my search I found that the name of the passenger ship appeared multiple ways in various newspaper articles – so I strategized that I needed to search every possible variation for any mention of the Benjamin Adams, from the spring to the fall of 1853, to make sure I didn’t miss any articles.

To find all of the articles I needed to search GenealogyBank’s archives using:

  • Benjamin Adams
  • Adams
  • Benj. Adams
  • Benj Adams
  • B. Adams
  • B Adams

This should give me all references to the passenger ship and William’s voyage to America.

Enter Last Name

Here’s what I found.

This Maine newspaper told me that by 23 August 1853, the passengers had boarded the Benjamin Adams and the ship was positioned “outward bound” in the Mersey River in Liverpool.

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Portland Weekly Advertiser newspaper article 13 September 1853

Portland Weekly Advertiser (Portland, Maine), 13 September 1853, page 3

This Massachusetts newspaper gave me the critical fact that the ship sailed the next day – 24 August 1853. Wow – good to know.

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Daily Atlas newspaper article 10 September 1853

Daily Atlas (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 September 1853, page 2

Next I looked for reports of the passenger ship arriving in America.

Here it is – this New York newspaper reported that the ship had docked in New York on 21 October 1853.

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Weekly Herald newspaper article 22 October 1853

Weekly Herald (Albany, New York), 22 October 1853, page 344

The trip to New York took 56 days. There were 620 passengers – but here’s where the news turned more somber.

The old newspaper article reported:

Sept. 10, while laying to under a close reefed topsail in a heavy gale from the NW, lost all three topgallant masts, closed reefed mizzen topsail, foresail, mainsail, stern boat, and received other damage.

The ship was damaged in a fierce storm just 17 days after leaving Liverpool. The passengers must have been terrified – wondering if they were going to make it.

But there was more bad news:

Had 15 deaths on the passage.

Significant storm damage to the ship and 15 people died?
What?
Fifteen people died?
Wow. Was that normal on these trips? Why did so many die?

William was lucky to make it safely to America!

Enter Last Name

In a follow-up article a week later, the Weekly Herald explained why so many had died on the passage. These passengers just didn’t die of random causes – they died from an outbreak of cholera, which struck  many ships.

…it is pretty certain that the disease which carried them off was cholera. ….The sickness on the Benjamin Adams was decidedly cholera.

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Weekly Herald newspaper article 29 October 1853

Weekly Herald (Albany, New York), 29 October 1853, page 350

This was a tough trip.

GenealogyBank’s newspapers continued to tell me more about William’s trip.

This New York newspaper mentioned that the ship Benjamin Adams had arrived “from Syria.”

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams" and cholera, Albany Evening Journal newspaper article 22 October 1853

Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York), 22 October 1853, page 2

From Syria?
I thought they left from Liverpool?

They did – but before arriving in Liverpool, the ship had been in Syria.

This Massachusetts newspaper told me that the Benjamin Adams had docked in Beirut, Syria, on 25 July 1853, before it went to Liverpool to pick up William Kemp and the other 619 passengers.

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Daily Atlas newspaper article 1 September 1853

Daily Atlas (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 September 1853, page 2

The reason for the trip to the Holy Land was explained in this Massachusetts newspaper. The Benjamin Adams picked up artifacts there to display at the World’s Fair:  “an Arab plough and other agricultural implements for the World’s Fair…canes from the banks of the Jordan, branches from the Mount of Olives and cedars of Lebanon…” and apparently somewhere along the way it picked up cholera.

shipping news about the ship "Benjamin Adams," Springfield Republican newspaper article 25 October 1853

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 25 October 1853, page 2

GenealogyBank doesn’t just give you the names, dates and places for your family tree – it gives you the stories of our ancestors’ lives.

You know when your ancestors arrived in America – dig in GenealogyBank and find out the rest of their stories.

Genealogy Tip: Search Wide Geo Areas

Did you notice a pattern with the newspaper articles in this blog post?

There were newspapers in Maine, New York, Massachusetts and beyond that reported on the Benjamin Adams. You want to search for this type of article and for the articles about your ancestors across all 8,000 of GenealogyBank’s newspapers. To find these articles, you cannot limit your search to only the newspapers of one or two states. If you limit your search geographically, you might miss an article critical to the telling of your ancestor’s story.

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Wisconsin Archives: 105 Newspapers Online for Genealogy Research

Wisconsin, part of America’s Midwest, is bordered by two Great Lakes: Lake Superior on the north and Lake Michigan on the east. The nation’s 23rd largest state and 20th most populous, Wisconsin is known as “America’s Dairyland” because of all its dairy farms, milk production, and world-famous cheese.

photo of the Daniel E. Krause Stone Barn in Chase, Wisconsin, built in 1903

Photo: the Daniel E. Krause Stone Barn in Chase, Wisconsin, built in 1903. Credit: KKNiteOwl; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Wisconsin, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online WI newspaper archives: 105 titles to help you search your family history in the “Badger State,” providing coverage from 1833 to Today. There are more than 7 million articles and records in our online Wisconsin archives!

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

Search Wisconsin Newspaper Archives (1833 – 1992)

Search Wisconsin Recent Obituaries (1989 – Current)

illustration of the state flag of Wisconsin

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

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

City Title Date Range* Collection
Appleton Appleton Volksfreund 9/11/1919 – 11/16/1922 Newspaper Archives
Ashland Daily Press 1/2/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Baraboo Baraboo News-Republic 1/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bayside North Shore NOW 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beaver Dam Daily Citizen 1/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beloit Soul City Courier 10/12/1976 – 1/18/1977 Newspaper Archives
Beloit Beloit Daily News 7/26/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brookfield Brookfield-Elm Grove NOW 1/14/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cedarburg News Graphic 6/25/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chippewa Falls Chippewa Herald 1/30/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chippewa Falls Chippewa Herald, The: Blogs 6/21/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Columbus Journal 1/26/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dousman Kettle Moraine Index 12/2/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fond du Lac Fond du Lac Weekly Commonwealth 3/24/1858 – 12/15/1858 Newspaper Archives
Fond du Lac Fond du Lac Trade Extension 2/13/1918 – 2/13/1918 Newspaper Archives
Fond du Lac Democratic Press 6/5/1858 – 12/15/1858 Newspaper Archives
Fond du Lac Daily Fond du Lac Press 7/23/1866 – 7/25/1866 Newspaper Archives
Fond du Lac Press 6/5/1858 – 7/25/1866 Newspaper Archives
Fort Atkinson Wisconsin Chief 10/15/1856 – 9/29/1866 Newspaper Archives
Fort Atkinson Daily Jefferson County Union 1/12/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fox Lake Fox Lake Representative 12/15/1911 – 12/20/1917 Newspaper Archives
Franklin Oak Creek-Franklin-Greendale NOW 2/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Galesville Galesville Independent 11/5/1874 – 8/30/1889 Newspaper Archives
Germantown Germantown-Menomonee Falls NOW 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grafton Grafton Enterprise 7/27/1927 – 8/3/1927 Newspaper Archives
Gratiot Gratiot Reporter 6/13/1912 – 10/9/1913 Newspaper Archives
Green Bay Green-Bay Intelligencer and Wisconsin Democrat 12/11/1833 – 6/1/1836 Newspaper Archives
Green Bay Wisconsin Free Press 10/3/1835 – 3/30/1836 Newspaper Archives
Green Bay Sunday Advance 6/15/1884 – 7/6/1884 Newspaper Archives
Green Bay Green Bay Spectator 2/21/1852 – 9/28/1852 Newspaper Archives
Green Bay Wisconsin Republican 1/21/1845 – 2/8/1847 Newspaper Archives
Green Bay Phoenix 10/8/1841 – 10/8/1841 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times Press 9/18/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartland Living Lake Country: Blogs 1/10/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartland Lake Country Reporter 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartland Sussex Sun 11/17/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hayward Sawyer County Record 1/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
La Crosse La Crosse Volksfreund 1/3/1906 – 12/28/1907 Newspaper Archives
La Crosse Wisconsin Labor Advocate 8/20/1886 – 8/6/1887 Newspaper Archives
La Crosse Nord Stern 4/10/1908 – 4/10/1908 Newspaper Archives
La Crosse La Crosse Tribune 7/11/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lancaster Grant County Herald 3/18/1843 – 12/5/1850 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin State Journal 3/10/1857 – 12/27/1889 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin Daily Patriot 9/10/1859 – 11/14/1864 Newspaper Archives
Madison Weekly Wisconsin Patriot 7/8/1854 – 10/22/1864 Newspaper Archives
Madison Daily Argus and Democrat 1/3/1854 – 7/21/1854 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin Democrat 10/18/1842 – 5/8/1852 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin Enquirer 11/8/1838 – 3/27/1841 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin Free Press 4/3/1984 – 1/12/1990 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin Populist 9/10/1892 – 11/8/1892 Newspaper Archives
Madison Wisconsin State Journal 3/3/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Madison Capital Times 3/20/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mauston Juneau County Argus 7/26/1888 – 7/26/1889 Newspaper Archives
Mauston Juneau County Star-Times 1/22/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Menomonie Dunn County News 12/9/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milwaukee Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 11/11/1966 – 12/31/1968 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Sentinel 12/10/1844 – 12/30/1968 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Star 7/22/1967 – 2/10/1977 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Wahrheit 1/7/1893 – 6/25/1910 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Wisconsin Free Democrat 8/23/1848 – 11/28/1860 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Wisconsin Weekly Advocate 5/7/1898 – 9/19/1907 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Weekly Sentinel 6/27/1837 – 6/13/1866 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Advertiser 7/14/1836 – 3/20/1841 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Journal of Commerce 3/15/1871 – 12/22/1880 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Soul City Times 9/14/1968 – 12/16/1971 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Defender 1/3/1957 – 2/1/1958 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee American 4/8/1857 – 10/28/1857 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukie Democrat 8/11/1843 – 2/23/1844 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Guardia 10/21/1969 – 8/1/1975 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Jugend-Post 1/1/1895 – 12/28/1895 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Wisconsin Afro-American 8/13/1892 – 11/19/1892 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Northwestern Recorder 12/3/1892 – 3/30/1893 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukiean 10/28/1844 – 11/4/1844 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee’r Socialist 9/22/1876 – 9/21/1877 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Herold und Seebote 1/1/1901 – 1/1/1901 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Herold 1/1/1901 – 1/1/1921 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Wiskonsin Banner 9/14/1844 – 9/21/1844 Newspaper Archives
Milwaukee Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1/22/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milwaukee Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Blogs 7/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monroe Jeffersonian Democrat 8/14/1856 – 3/26/1857 Newspaper Archives
Mukwonago Mukwonago Chief 5/19/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Lisbon Juneau County Argus 11/8/1858 – 12/6/1894 Newspaper Archives
Oconomowoc Oconomowoc Focus 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oconomowoc Oconomowoc Enterprise 4/14/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oneida Kalihwisaks 5/13/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oshkosh Oshkosh True Democrat 2/9/1849 – 5/12/1857 Newspaper Archives
Park Falls Price County Review 6/6/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Phillips Phillips Bee 3/3/1999 – 6/3/2014 Recent Obituaries
Portage Daily Register 1/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portage Wisconsin Dells Events 2/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Racine Weekly Racine Advocate 1/8/1851 – 4/25/1866 Newspaper Archives
Racine Racine Courier 10/16/1976 – 7/25/1992 Newspaper Archives
Reedsburg Reedsburg Times-Press 1/28/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rice Lake Chronotype 1/4/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ripon Ripon Commonwealth Press 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sauk City Sauk Prairie Eagle 5/18/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sheboygan Sheboygan Nieuwsbode 10/6/1849 – 11/7/1850 Newspaper Archives
Spooner Spooner Advocate 9/24/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Superior Superior Telegram 5/19/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Washburn County Journal 4/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waukesha American Freeman 9/9/1845 – 12/29/1847 Newspaper Archives
Waukesha Waukesha NOW 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waukesha Freeman 6/12/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wauwatosa Wauwatosa NOW 9/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Bend Washington County Daily News 7/12/2000 – 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 Wisconsin newspaper links will be live.

Related Links:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

20 May 1932: Amelia Earhart’s Solo Flight across the Atlantic

Amelia Earhart quote: "Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it."

Amelia Earhart, the pioneering female pilot, achieved enduring fame with the many aviation records she set during the 1920s and ’30s. Early in her career she achieved an impressive feat when she became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license from the distinguished National Aeronautic Association, on 16 May 1923. In 1928 she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane when she flew as part of the crew (her duty was to keep the flight log) with Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon.

photo of Amelia Earhart, c. 1928

Photo: Amelia Earhart, c. 1928. Source: Los Angeles Daily News; Wikimedia Commons.

That successful airplane flight (and the fame it achieved—including a ticker-tape parade in New York City and a White House reception with President Calvin Coolidge) obviously whetted her appetite for aviation, and four years later Earhart made a bold attempt to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo. This daring flight feat had only been accomplished once before, by Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

On 20 May 1932, the fifth anniversary of Lindberg’s famous flight, Earhart departed Newfoundland in her 600-horsepower Lockheed Vega to cross the vast ocean with 420 gallons of gasoline and a quart of chicken soup. Her goal destination was Paris, but after 14 hours and 56 minutes of fighting strong winds and some slight mechanical problems, she settled for landing her plane in Northern Ireland. She had done it—the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic! For this 15-hour feat of endurance and pluck she became the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the flight cemented her fame.

Enter Last Name

Earhart’s departure for her historic cross-Atlantic flight 1n 1932 was reported on the front page of this Georgia newspaper.

article about Amelia Earhart flying solo across the Atlantic, Augusta Chronicle newspaper article 21 May 1932

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia), 21 May 1932, page 1

This old newspaper article reported:

Harbor Grace, N.F., May 20 (AP)—Amelia Earhart Putnam, smiling and confident, took off from Harbor Grace tonight in her crimson, gold-striped plane, with Paris her destination.

Five years to the day after Col. Charles A. Lindbergh sped out from New York on the first solo flight to Europe, Mrs. Putnam took off at 4:51 p.m., eastern standard time, determined to be the first woman to fly over the Atlantic alone.

A message of confidence for her friends was left by Mrs. Putnam as she stepped, cool and composed, into the cockpit of her plane.

“To all my friends, far and near, you will hear from me in 15 hours,” she said. “I have sufficient fuel for 20 hours and I will go further if my gas holds out and I find I am not too fatigued.”

Weather Favorable

Her decision to start today came suddenly, influenced by favorable weather reports. Arriving here from St. John, N.B., at 11:31 a.m., eastern standard time, she previously had retired, announcing she hoped to leave early tomorrow.

The plane was warming up as she arrived at the airport. Bernt Balchen, famed flier and explorer, and Eddie Gorski, mechanic, who accompanied her from St. John, were working on it.

She was laughing excitedly as Balchen and Gorski made a rapid but thorough inspection of the craft, [but then] her attitude changed to that of grave silence.

Satisfied that the ship was fit, Balchen and Gorski joined Mrs. Putnam for a final conference before the takeoff. She gave them each a hearty handshake, said “I am confident of success,” and stepped into the plane.

Paris Is Goal

She made a perfect takeoff. Paris was her goal.

Her destination was not announced until just before the start. No reason was given for its choice.

Her plane is a 600-horsepower Wasp motored craft with a cruising speed of 140 miles an hour, a maximum speed of 180 and a cruising radius of 3,200 miles. It carried a fuel supply of 420 gallons of gasoline and 20 gallons of oil, sufficient, she was confident, to keep her aloft for fully 20 hours.

For herself, she carried a quart of chicken soup and nothing more.

A light southwest wind was blowing and the sky was cloudy as Mrs. Putnam sped eastward toward her goal, but she had the cheering promise of clear skies and friendly winds along the way.

New York, May 20 (AP)—George Palmer Putnam, husband of Amelia Earhart, tonight expressed complete confidence his wife would successfully complete her solo flight across to Paris.

Reached a few minutes after the hop-off at the United States weather bureau, where he remained much of the day checking weather reports, Putnam said briefly: “I have complete confidence in her. What else can I say?”

Ruth Nichols, society aviatrix who had hoped to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air, also expressed confidence Miss Earhart would reach her goal.

Related Articles & Link:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealaogyBank

Full List of Mayflower Passengers in Gov. Bradford’s Newly-Restored Journal

Governor William Bradford’s (ca. 1590-1657) handwritten Of Plymouth Plantation is well known to genealogists as the earliest journal history of the Mayflower passengers, their voyage across the Atlantic, and the settlement in Plymouth Plantation.

According to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), the Bradford Manuscript contains 580 pages, is hand sewn, “and bound in a parchment-covered binding.” It is housed in the State Library of Massachusetts.

photo of the Bradford Manuscript being restored by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)

Photo: the Bradford Manuscript. Source: Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Click here to read the State Library’s guide to the Bradford Manuscript.

Enter Last Name

The Northeast Document Conservation Center took on the task of conserving, repairing and restoring this historic manuscript. The NEDCC has now put a detailed article about the conservation process for this important document online.

Click here to read the NEDCC’s account of their work on the Bradford Manuscript.

screenshot of a page from the Northeast Document Conservation Center website describing the restoration of the Bradford Manuscript

Source: Northeast Document Conservation Center

The conservation work was done to prevent further deterioration of the historical journal, and to make it more accessible to the public by the creation of two facsimile volumes.

A digitized version of the Bradford Manuscript is available online.

Of special interest to genealogists, the Bradford Manuscript contains a multipage list of the passengers on the Mayflower.

photo of a page from the Bradford Manuscript showing the list of Mayflower passengers

Photo: Bradford Manuscript page showing the list of Mayflower passengers. Source: State Library of Massachusetts.

Having this invaluable historical Mayflower resource protected – and having a digital copy of the manuscript online – is a great benefit to genealogists.

Related Mayflower Articles & a Link:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

The ‘Confederate Column’ – a Times-Picayune Newspaper Feature

In 1902 the Times-Picayune newspaper ran this large ad on the front page of their 28 February issue.

ad seeking readers' stories for the "Confederate Column," Times-Picayune newspaper advertisement 28 February 1902

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 28 February 1902, page 1

This was the start of a regular feature – the “Confederate Column” – designed:

to tell of men whose acts of individual heroism do not figure in battle reports…[and] to set in strong light the genius and courage, and other virtues of the Confederate officers and soldiers.

The ad concluded:

Confederate soldiers everywhere are invited to assist in this work. Personal recollections, conspicuous battle incidents, stories of the campfire, and, in short, everything which may serve to illustrate the life, and do justice to the achievements of that great soldiery, will be welcomed.

Enter Last Name

The Times-Picayune’s Confederate Column regularly featured Civil War stories like this one about the Battle of Fort Stedman, when Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon (1832-1904) attacked the Union fort on 25 March 1865 in a desperate attempt to break the Siege of Petersburg.

montage of "Confederate Columns" from the Times-Picayune newspaper

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Led by Gordon, the Confederate attack was initially successful.

photo of Confederate Major General John B. Gordon

Photo: Confederate Major General John B. Gordon. Source: Wikipedia.

But then Union troops pushed the Confederate attackers back and recaptured Fort Stedman.

photo of the Union Fort Stedman, taken 31 December 1865

Photo: Fort Stedman, taken 31 December 1865, by Timothy H. O’Sullivan (ca. 1840-1882). Source: The Library of Congress/American Memory (Digital ID: cwpb 02853 Source: digital file from original neg.)

Genealogists researching their Southern roots will want to check out this series that appeared in the Times-Picayune over 100 years ago.

Related Civil War Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Wow! 4-Page Obituary for William Bullock Clark

I was looking for the obituary of William Bullock Clark (1860-1917), a geology professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Looking in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I quickly found multiple obituaries for him. For example, there is this obituary from the Sun (Baltimore, Maryland).

obituary for William Clark, Sun newspaper article 28 July 1917

Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) 28 July 1917, page 6

Great obituary. It includes the basic genealogical facts: his date of birth, death, and information about his immediate family.

Here’s an extra family fact:

“Their…daughter, who was Miss Helen Clark, was married to Capt. H. Findlay French, the Baltimore lawyer, who now is stationed at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., as a member of the quartermaster’s department.”

Enter Last Name

Other helpful family history facts:

“He sprang from stock which came over in the Mayflower and from others which settled in Plymouth Colony in its earliest days and attained leadership.”

These are key research facts and clues to follow up on for more information.

Looking deeper in GenealogyBank’s Historical Documents area, I found this four-page obituary for Clark that is rich in detailed information about his life.

montage of the four pages of William Clark's obituary

Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution showing the operations, expenditures, and condition of the institution for the year ending June 30, 1917. Date: Tuesday, January 1, 1918. Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.7432; Report: H.Doc. 1252 pt. 1, pages 663-665.

This detailed obituary is a great research find: four pages about his life, his family and his career.

It is common for the annual reports of government agencies to include detailed obituaries for not only employees but also for individuals who worked closely with the government – such as Clark, who was a college geology professor who worked with the Smithsonian Institution.

obituary for William Clark, Serial Set Vol. No.7432; Report: H.Doc. 1252 pt. 1, 1 January 1918

Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution showing the operations, expenditures, and condition of the institution for the year ending June 30, 1917. Date: Tuesday, January 1, 1918. Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.7432; Report: H.Doc. 1252 pt. 1, pages 663-665.

Notice that this four-obituary gives us more information on the immediate family and on his colonial ancestors than the shorter obituary in the newspaper did.

obituary for William Clark, Serial Set Vol. No.7432; Report: H.Doc. 1252 pt. 1, 1 January 1918

Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution showing the operations, expenditures, and condition of the institution for the year ending June 30, 1917. Date: Tuesday, January 1, 1918. Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.7432; Report: H.Doc. 1252 pt. 1, pages 663-665.

We learn that Clark was a descendant of: John Howland and John Tilly, two of the passengers on the Mayflower; ancestors who fought in the Colonial wars; and Daniel Stewart, who fought at the Battle of Lexington in 1775. This is exactly the type of family history information that we need.

Genealogy Tip: When searching in GenealogyBank, don’t search only the newspapers – look at all search results from all areas of GenealogyBank’s resources, including historical documents, government reports and records, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, historical books, and the Social Security Death Index.

Have you had success finding detailed genealogical records about your ancestors such as this four-page obituary in GenealogyBank’s historical archives? If so, please share your research finds with us in the comments.

Related Obituary Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

The WWI Soldier Girl: Hazel Blauser Carter

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 uncover the story of Hazel Carter, who disguised herself as a man in order to follow her husband into battle in WWI – and almost made it.

During the American Civil War, an untold number of women disguised themselves as men and fought on the front lines. These women risked their lives looking for adventure, higher wages, involvement in a cause they believed in, or to follow sweethearts or family members into battle. While it may be difficult to fathom how a woman could get away with passing herself as a man during the Civil War day in and day out, stories and books have been written about the women who did just that.

One might assume that as time marched on, women were less successful disguising themselves as men in order to go to war. After all, weren’t there medical examinations that would have uncovered this type of charade? Well, believe it or not – women tried to pose as male soldiers as recently as World War I!

Hazel Carter, WWI Soldier Girl

Hazel Blauser was born in 1894 and lived in Douglas, Arizona. On 12 December 1916 she married John Carter. John was serving with the 18th infantry, stationed in Douglas, when his unit was called up to go to France. Hazel decided that she would not be left behind. After saying her goodbyes to John, she headed off to a barber where she had her long hair shorn. Then, dressed in an old uniform, she went down to the military base where the soldiers were gathered and tried to get lost in the crowd of young men.

photo of Hazel Carter

Photo: Hazel Carter. Source: National Archives and Records Administration; Wikimedia Commons.

As she explained in this Nebraska newspaper article:

I marched aboard the troop train at Douglas without my husband’s knowledge and to the port from which we sailed without being detected.

article about Hazel Carter disguising herself as a man to go fight in WWI, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 6 August 1917

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 6 August 1917, page 5

Once on board the troop ship and out to sea, a rumor began circulating that there was a woman aboard. One account says it was because someone heard Hazel’s voice. She was discovered after being asked to remove her shirt. Hazel was then held in a stateroom and transported back to the United States without ever being allowed to step foot on French soil.

Enter Last Name

Once Hazel was back in the United States her story made newspaper pages across the nation. The adventure of the woman dressed as a WWI soldier was reported, including the fact that she was provided women’s clothes and a wig when she arrived in the United States prior to being sent home to Arizona. In some old newspaper articles she was even referred to as Private Hazel Carter (retired).

article about Hazel Carter disguising herself as a man to go fight in WWI, Riverside Daily Press newspaper article 17 July 1917

Riverside Daily Press (Riverside, California), 17 July 1917, page 1

Writing Her Story in the Newspaper

Hazel was able to capitalize on her brief stint with fame by writing four articles about her adventure that were serialized in newspapers. Hazel detailed everything from her decision to follow her husband, to how she was able to hide on the troop train and her eventual boarding of the transport ship and how she “nearly got away with it.”

Her military adventure must have seemed like a grand story – except perhaps to her husband, who lost his rank of corporal and was threatened with court martial due to his wife’s attempt to be with him.

article about Hazel Carter disguising herself as a man to go fight in WWI, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 19 August 1917

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 19 August 1917, page 4

In her fourth installment of her article series, she reports that her mother had not known that Hazel had left Douglas until she was gone. Her mother wrote to Hazel:

If you wanted to be a soldier and fight with your man, it was all right with us. We’re proud of you. You’re an honor to the blood, and that has been fighting blood since before the Civil War.

article about Hazel Carter disguising herself as a man to go fight in WWI, Evansville Courier and Press newspaper article 26 August 1917

Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville, Indiana), 26 August 1917, page 27

Hazel’s mom wasn’t the only one that was proud of her. Her grandfather H. Clark, a veteran of the Civil War, was quoted as saying:

I knew she would do it…That girl sure has grit. I wish she could stay and fight the Germans. You ought to have seen her in uniform. She made a better looking soldier than John, I do believe. She can handle a rifle better than most men. They sure should have let her stay.

In addition to her family’s approval, Hazel had the admiration of her hometown, the city of Douglas, Arizona. A Michigan newspaper article announced that when she arrived home from her adventure, she would be “met by a guard of honor and a brass band.”

article about Hazel Carter disguising herself as a man to go fight in WWI, Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper article 30 July 1917

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, Michigan), 30 July 1917, page 8

Hazel wasn’t the only woman to try to join the war effort dressed as a man during WWI. Another young woman, Freda Hart, also tried to disguise herself with the intent of joining the military but was “outed” before she could board a train for Washington, D.C. Hazel and Freda’s stories are recounted in this historical newspaper article with a title emphasizing their boyish haircuts, referring to their “sacrifice of tresses.”

article about Hazel Carter and Freda Hart disguising themselves as men to go fight in WWI, Boston Herald newspaper article 11 November 1917

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 11 November 1917, page 61

While Hazel’s story makes it sound as though women weren’t involved in the war effort or on the battlefronts, nothing could be further from the truth. Did women help in the war effort? Absolutely! Women joined groups like the Red Cross as nurses, the Salvation Army and YWCA. Women even joined the military as nurses and clerical workers and were sent to France. Hazel remarked that she did try to join the Red Cross, only to be turned down.

A Story That Ends Too Soon

Does this love story between Hazel and John end “happily ever after”? Unfortunately, no. Hazel died about a year later, in July 1918 in New Mexico. Her husband, fighting the war in France, never saw her again after her discovery on his WWI troop ship. His last words to her can be found memorialized in one of the newspaper articles she wrote about her adventure:

Don’t let a little thing like that discourage you, honey. Go home and take a run down to Kentucky to see mother. Tell her I am well and doing all right. No Boche bullet is going to get me. Then if you still want to come over, join the Red Cross. I’ll work night and day to see you are sent somewhere near us. Be good, kiddie. Wait for me.

Hazel’s body was transported back to Douglas by the Red Cross, where she was provided with a military-like funeral that included a flag draped over her casket, a military chaplain officiating and soldiers as her pallbearers.

Hazel’s story is just one example of the rich family history you can find in old newspapers. What will you discover about your family in the pages of GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives?

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Minnesota Archives: 91 Newspapers Online for Genealogy Research

Today Minnesota celebrates the 157th anniversary of its statehood—it was admitted into the Union on 11 May 1858 as the 32nd state. The state’s name is based on a Native American Dakota word meaning “clear water,” and Minnesota is famous for its many beautiful lakes—hence the state’s nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

photo of Eagle Mountain, Minnesota

Photo: Eagle Mountain, Minnesota. Credit: Skye Marthaler; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Minnesota, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online MN newspaper archives: 91 titles to help you search your family history in the “North Star State,” providing coverage from 1849 to Today. There are more than 4.3 million articles and records in our online Minnesota archives!

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

Search Minnesota Newspaper Archives (1849 – 1923)

Search Minnesota Recent Obituaries (1986 – Current)

illustration of the state flag of Minnesota

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

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

City Title Date Range* Collection
Albany Stearns – Morrison Enterprise 7/18/2005 – 1/12/2011 Recent Obituaries
Albert Lea Albert Lea Tribune 10/2/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Apple Valley Apple Valley – Rosemount Sun-Current 2/22/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Austin Austin Daily Herald 7/25/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Center Brooklyn Center Sun-Post 2/16/2011 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Park Brooklyn Park Sun-Post 1/26/2011 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Burnsville Burnsville Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Champlin, Dayton Champlin – Dayton Press 8/15/2005 – 8/22/2013 Recent Obituaries
Chanhassen Chanhassen Villager 11/12/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chaska Chaska Herald 11/19/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cloquet Pine Journal 5/17/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coon Rapids Blaine – Spring Lake Park Sun-Focus 2/6/2011 – 5/15/2012 Recent Obituaries
Crookston Crookston Daily Times 10/20/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crow River South Crow River News – Rockford Area News Leader 11/21/2005 – 8/22/2013 Recent Obituaries
Crystal, Robbinsdale Crystal – Robbinsdale Sun-Post 2/16/2011 – 4/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Delano Delano Eagle 7/26/2005 – 8/22/2013 Recent Obituaries
Duluth Duluth News-Tribune 5/16/1881 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Daily News 7/2/1887 – 9/4/1892 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Weekly Tribune 1/6/1876 – 7/15/1887 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Minnesotian 4/24/1869 – 9/4/1875 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Minnesotian-Herald 9/11/1875 – 5/11/1878 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Lake Superior News 7/4/1878 – 1/27/1881 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Weekly News-Tribune 1/2/1897 – 6/26/1897 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Budgeteer News 6/9/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Duluth News Tribune 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eagan Eagan Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Eden Prairie News 10/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie St. Louis Park Sun-Sailor 2/9/2010 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Plymouth Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Eden Prairie Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – 8/19/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Bloomington Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – 8/19/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Richfield Sun-Current 1/25/2010 – 8/19/2013 Recent Obituaries
Edina Edina Sun-Current 1/28/2010 – 8/19/2013 Recent Obituaries
Excelsior Excelsior – Shorewood Sun-Sailor 2/22/2010 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Fergus Falls Fergus Falls Daily Journal 12/3/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Herald-Review 10/12/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune 11/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hibbing Hibbing Daily Tribune 6/2/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hopkins Hopkins Sun-Sailor 1/11/2011 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Hutchinson Hutchinson Leader 11/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
International Falls Journal 8/25/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jordan Jordan Independent 12/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeville Lakeville Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Litchfield Litchfield Independent Review 10/15/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mankato Free Press 10/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Melrose Melrose Beacon 7/18/2005 – 1/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Minneapolis Minneapolis Journal 1/1/1895 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Minneapolis Tidende 10/18/1895 – 12/28/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Afro-American Advance 5/27/1899 – 11/17/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Columbia Heights – Fridley Sun-Focus 2/16/2011 – 4/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Minneapolis Star Tribune 1/21/1986 – Current Recent Obituaries
Minnetonka Minnetonka Sun-Sailor 2/22/2010 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Montevideo Montevideo American-News 11/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monticello Monticello Times 11/29/2006 – 8/15/2013 Recent Obituaries
Mound Laker 1/7/2011 – 6/14/2013 Recent Obituaries
Mounds View Mounds View – New Brighton – St. Anthony Sun-Focus 2/16/2011 – 4/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
New Hope New Hope – Golden Valley Sun-Post 1/26/2011 – 4/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Osseo, Maple Grove Osseo – Maple Grove Press 7/28/2005 – 8/22/2013 Recent Obituaries
Prior Lake Prior Lake American 10/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Red Wing Goodhue County Republican 6/26/1863 – 12/28/1876 Newspaper Archives
Redwood Falls Redwood Falls Gazette 10/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sartell Sartell Newsleader 10/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savage Savage Pacer 10/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Shakopee Shakopee Valley News 10/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sleepy Eye Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch 7/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. James St. James Plaindealer 11/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph St. Joseph Newsleader 1/4/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Michael North Crow River News 4/17/2006 – 8/22/2013 Recent Obituaries
St. Paul St. Paul Daily Press 1/2/1868 – 12/29/1872 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Appeal 2/7/1903 – 11/24/1923 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Broad Axe 9/17/1891 – 6/11/1903 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Daily Pioneer 9/23/1854 – 12/31/1857 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Weekly Minnesotian 6/4/1853 – 12/25/1858 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Minnesota Democrat 1/14/1851 – 10/31/1855 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Western Appeal 6/13/1885 – 12/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Minnesota Pioneer 4/28/1849 – 1/20/1853 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Negro World 3/10/1900 – 6/9/1900 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Daily Minnesotian 1/6/1854 – 1/6/1854 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Sun Newspapers 1/10/2001 – 2/24/2010 Recent Obituaries
St. Paul St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/25/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stillwater Stillwater Gazette 11/13/2000 – 10/30/2013 Recent Obituaries
Two Harbors Lake County News-Chronicle 5/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Mesabi Daily News 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Carver County News 8/4/2005 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Waconia Pioneer 9/15/2005 – 6/7/2013 Recent Obituaries
Waconia Waconia Patriot 8/3/2005 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Walker Pilot-Independent 12/18/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wayzata Wayzata – Orono – Long Lake Sun-Sailor 9/9/2010 – 9/9/2013 Recent Obituaries
Winona Winona Post 2/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Winona Winona Daily News 5/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Young America Norwood Young America Times 8/4/2005 – 9/9/2013 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 Minnesota newspaper links will be live.

Related Article & Link:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Oh Mother Where Art Thou? How to Find Females in Newspapers

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena provides search tips to find your often-elusive female ancestors in old newspapers.

How do you find stories about your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and other female ancestors in the newspaper? Sometimes that can be easier said than done, but here are a few tips to help you search for those elusive female ancestors.

What Types of News Articles Feature Women?

While the digitization of newspapers provides us the luxury of finding newspaper articles we weren’t specifically looking for, knowing what type of articles feature women can make it easier to focus your searches. It’s hard to imagine all the different types of articles a mother could be mentioned in, but reading copies of your ancestor’s local newspaper can be helpful. A few types of news articles to consider include the following.

Food & Recipe Newspaper Articles

What’s the best thing your mom cooks? Do you have memories of grandma’s homemade pies at Thanksgiving? Don’t forget that she could have been featured in the pages of the food section of the newspaper for her culinary prowess. Recipe contests sponsored by the newspaper or food companies, requests for recipes, or sharing a favorite recipe were all occasions for women to be published in the local newspaper.

For example, this article from a 1951 Texas newspaper about a pear recipe contest includes the names and addresses of the female judges and the winners. Even three-year-old Peggy Womack, who accompanied her mother to judge the entries, is mentioned.

article about a recipe contest, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 9 March 1951

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 9 March 1951, page 22

Genealogy Tip: Remember that women may be mentioned using their husband’s name so don’t forget to try searching for her as Mrs. John Smith or Mrs. J. A. Smith.

Women’s Interest Pages

Women’s Interest pages printed all types of articles about women’s activities including causes they supported and clubs they were a member of. You can find mentions of events and articles that report on meetings at members’ homes, complete with an address.

Enter Last Name

Such is the case on this Clubs page from a 1926 Washington newspaper, which includes mentions of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union), sororities, fraternal auxiliaries like Order of the Eastern Star, and Soroptimists. Awards women won, their names, addresses and even two photos can be found on this page.

women's club page, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 22 August 1926

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 22 August 1926, page 60

Our female ancestors enjoyed club activities and membership in varied organizations. Identify membership organizations in the area your ancestor lived that she may have been a member of. Remember that she could have belonged to a group that believed in a cause she was passionate about (WCTU or League of Women Voters), was part of her church (Dorcas Society or Relief Society), or an auxiliary to an organization where her husband was a member (Women’s Relief Corp, Order of the Eastern Star).

There’s no doubt that being a mom and wife could get you in the paper as well. Whether it was for the birth of a baby, celebrating a wedding anniversary, attending a family reunion or even traveling with a child, your ancestress could be mentioned.

Great information about one family can be found in this report in a 1905 Idaho newspaper of the reunion attended in Texas by Mrs. J. F. Shellworth of Boise, Idaho. There are many names and much descendant information presented in this old newspaper article.

article about the Campbell family reunion, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 18 August 1905

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 18 August 1905, page 6

I have to admit my favorite part is the last paragraph that states:

Of this large family there is nor has been no stain on their moral characters, nor have any of them been arraigned before a court of justice as far back as the family history records.

article about the Campbell family reunion, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 18 August 1905

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 18 August 1905, page 6

Gossip & Social Columns

Don’t forget that gossip, social or “around town” articles provide opportunities for piecing together your female ancestor’s life. These short mentions often tell of the everyday activities she participated in like going shopping, traveling or even becoming ill.

For example, in this section of a 1904 Michigan newspaper entitled “News of Michigan Towns,” women are listed partaking in such activities as attending funerals, moving, attending club meetings, teaching, entertaining and in one instance passing away from a lengthy battle with consumption (TB):

Auburn, May 4.—Miss Lillie Miller, who has been suffering for the last six months with consumption, passed away April 30. Burial took place Monday morning at Midland. Miss Miller was with her parents during most of her sickness and death.

social column, Saginaw News newspaper article 4 May 1904

Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 4 May 1904, page 3

It’s All in the Name

I have discovered that often when I wasn’t able to find something in a digitized newspaper it was because I wasn’t searching my ancestor’s name the way the newspaper printed it. It’s always when I think the name can’t possibly be printed as Miss Philibert or M. B. Philibert that I’m proven wrong.

Genealogy Tip: Create a list of variations of your ancestor’s name and then add various spellings and misspellings to that list.

Keep a list of those name variations handy, and on that list have two parts. In the first part, write out all the variations of the name she could have used throughout her life. Such a list for one of my paternal great-grandmothers looks like this:

  • Mary Bell Chatham
  • Mary Chatham
  • M.B. Chatham
  • Miss Chatham
  • Mary Bell Philibert
  • Mary Philibert
  • Mrs. Oscar Philibert
  • Mrs. O. J. Philibert

Now if I add all the creative ways Chatham and/or Philibert can be spelled, my list starts to look like this:

  • Mary Bell Chatham
  • Mary Chatham
  • M.B. Chatham
  • Miss Chatham
  • Mary Bell Philibert
  • Mary Philibert
  • Mrs. Oscar Philibert
  • Mrs. O. J. Philibert
  • Philbert
  • Philabert
  • Filabert
  • Philburt
  • Phillabert
Enter Last Name

So you get the idea of how many variations you may amass. Not sure how a name could possibly be misspelled? Ask a first or second grader. They will sound out the name and base their guess on phonetics, something that others may have done when spelling your ancestor’s name.

Before you give up on a genealogy search, always try another variation of your ancestor’s name.

Keep Track of Your Family History Research

As you research, keep a timeline of your female ancestor’s life so that you can determine what types of newspaper articles you might find during various times of her life, such as birth notices when she could be having children, or notices about her death. Along with that keep a research log and track your findings each time you research her in the newspaper. You will find a link to a free research log at the end of this article.

Because GenealogyBank is constantly adding new newspapers, you will need to conduct your search at least every month to find new results.

It’s no secret that I love the information that historical newspapers provide about our female ancestors. Finding mom (or grandma or great-grandma) is made easier when you know how to search. Honor your foremothers this week for Mother’s Day by locating stories about their lives in the newspaper.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Free Research Log Template

Not sure what a Research Log is or how to start one? No problem; with this free download from GenealogyBank you’ll be tracking your research in no time.

photo of a genealogy research log

Clicking on the link (or the graphic) will let you download the Research Log template as a full-size, working Excel spreadsheet that you can use to organize and track your genealogy research. This log is compliments of Duncan Kuehn, who provided the following instructions:

Crafting your genealogy research plan:

  • Title: Give your document a title. This will likely be the name of the person or family line that you are working on.
  • Objective: Craft a very specific research objective. The more specific you can be the more effective your search will be. An example of a poorly crafted object would be: “Continue the Johnson line.” A better objective would be: “Find out when Jacob Johnson was born.” An even better objective would be: “Find out when Jacob Johnson (probable son of James Johnson and Sally Kunz) was born (likely 1882-1885 in Hardin County, Kentucky or Randolph County, South Carolina).” Having a clear objective keeps your search focused. Having more information helps you narrow your search and determine if you have found the right information.
  • Date: Always enter a date for each entry. This will help you keep organized.
  • Goal:Follow this basic outline for setting goals. Each goal or search should occupy its own row in the research plan.
    • Confirm the known information.
    • Identify which sources might contain more information. Prioritize these by likelihood to contain the information, reliability, ease of accessibility, quality, etc.
    • Determine what possible documents might exist. For example, were birth certificates issued in the area at that time?
    • Try to find the document.
      • Check to see if any online resources have digitized the collection.
        • If not, check to see if an online index exists.
    • Check to see if any near-to-you repositories have the collection.
    • Check to see if any archives in the local jurisdiction have the collection.
  • Obtain the document and analyze the information.
  • Re-evaluate if the objective was met or not. If it was, then create a new research plan with a new objective. If not, determine what additional information is required and then identify which sources might contain that additional information.
  • Source: Write down what source you are using to find the information. For example, when confirming the information where did you look? Was it on your family tree? Did you locate the birth certificate in your possession? Write down this source and include as much information as possible. Who authored it? What page in the book was it found on? What was the call number of the book? What was the URL of the online document?
  • Repository: Write down where you found the source. Where was the document found? Was it in your possession? Did you locate it on FamilySearch? Was it in the local library? Write down as much information as you can here. If it is a place you intend to visit, be sure to include the address, phone number, website, etc.
  • Result: Write down what you searched for and what you found. Be very, very specific. For example: “I searched for Jacob Aman’s (born 1901 in South Dakota) birth certificate on Ancestry, but nothing was found.  I also used the spellings of Amman, Amann, Ammann, Anan, Amam, Amon, etc. I searched the time span of 1898-1903. I did not restrict it to a particular county.” That way when you think of or discover additional alternative spellings, such as Jakob or the initials J.B., you know to go back and try searching with the new information. When you do find information, record it here.
  •  #: Use this column to record the document number, include a link to the document that is stored on your computer, or list the document name as saved on your computer or in your paper files. You will want to access the document again. How will you find it? Enter that information in this column. Note: be sure to obtain a copy for yourself; don’t rely on finding the document again online, because URLs change, collections get culled and removed from websites, websites go defunct, etc.

Note: What is the difference between a genealogy research log and a research plan? A genealogy research plan includes the log, keeping all the information together. This prepares you for conducting the research: what documents exist, where can they be found? A research log would generally not include the goals of confirming the information, identifying the sources, locating where the source can be found, but instead would focus on the actual document search within a repository. This hybrid combines the best of both worlds to keep all the information in one place. I’ve called it a research plan because genealogists tend to focus on the document search when they need to focus on the preparatory work. The title is intended to remind them to slow down, focus their research, start at the beginning and work their way through. Once the document containing the information is found, the work is not done. Each fact needs to be confirmed by multiple sources. The evidence from each source needs to be properly evaluated. Finally, a written statement needs to be crafted to “prove” the answer, taking into account any evidence that contradicts the genealogist’s conclusion. Once this statement, paragraph, or report has been written, you are ready to move on – keeping in mind that new sources and evidence will be found and that might cause you to go back and revise your previous conclusions.

———————-

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

The 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the RMS Lusitania

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 learn more about the tragic sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania by a German submarine, an act which almost propelled the neutral U.S. into World War I.

First launched in 1906, the RMS Lusitania was part of the British Cunard line of luxury passenger ships. For a short time, the Lusitania was the fastest ship in the world, with such amenities as electric lights and the wireless telegraph. On 1 May 1915, with World War I raging in Europe, the Lusitania set sail from New York to Liverpool, England, filled with passengers.

Warning Issued before Lusitania Departed

But – most likely unknown to most of those passengers – the Lusitania was also carrying supplies and ammunition for the British war effort. After 101 roundtrip crossings, this journey may not have seemed too different from the previous ones – except for a warning directed to all those on board. However, this crossing will forever remain different in the annals of history – for the Germans sank the Lusitania on 7 May 1915, nearly drawing the neutral U.S. into WWI.

Illustration: sinking of the Lusitania; engraving by Norman Wilkinson for the 15 May 1915 issue of “The Illustrated London News"

Illustration: sinking of the Lusitania; engraving by Norman Wilkinson for the 15 May 1915 issue of “The Illustrated London News.” Source: Wikimedia Commons.

New York newspapers had carried a warning from the German embassy alerting potential Lusitania passengers that sailing through a war zone under the flags of Great Britain or its allies could mean possible destruction of the ship. Civilian passengers on board would be traveling at their own risk. Perhaps those who purchased passage on the Lusitania thought the warning was an idle threat, figuring that civilians could simply not be in danger from military actions.

According to this South Dakota newspaper article about the German warning: “Not a single passenger cancelled his sailings.” While the old newspaper article reports that the U.S. State Department took the warning seriously, it goes on to say that: “The Cunarder [sic] officials laughed at the passengers’ fears.” Referring to the speed of the ship, the officials stated that: “the Lusitania could show her heels to any submarine.”

article about the warning Germany gave before the Lusitania departed from New York, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 1 May 1915

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 1 May 1915, page 1

The Sinking of the Lusitania

Six days after departing from New York, on May 7th off the coast of Ireland, a German submarine U-20 under the command of Walther Schweiger fired a torpedo at the Lusitania.

article about Germany sinking the Lusitania, Lexington Herald newspaper article 8 May 1915

Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 8 May 1915, page 1

Unlike the Titanic disaster just three years prior, the Lusitania sank very quickly in only 18 minutes – not enough time for her nearly 2,000 passengers to climb safely into lifeboats. Only 767 of the 1,960 people aboard survived. The torpedoed ship tragedy took the lives of approximately 128 out of 139 Americans on board. Only 37.7% of passengers survived the sinking, leaving a large number of women and children among the dead.* A list and biographies of the passengers and crew aboard the Lusitania can be found on The Lusitania Resource website.

article about Germany sinking the Lusitania, Gulfport Daily Herald newspaper article 8 May 1915

Gulfport Daily Herald (Gulfport, Mississippi), 8 May 1915, page 1

One of those who perished was American genealogist Lothrop Withington, who was returning to England on the Lusitania to continue researching a 17th century registry of wills.

article about Germany sinking the Lusitania, Plain Dealer newspaper article 9 May 1915

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 May 1915, page 6

Sinking Almost Draws U.S. into WWI

After pressure from President Woodrow Wilson, Germany promised to only sink passenger ships after proper warning and safeguards for passengers. English, Irish and eventually U.S. propaganda posters evoked the needless drowning of women and children to encourage or guilt men into joining the military.

Enter Last Name

Here’s an example of such a recruitment poster, showing a heartbreaking scene of a woman Lusitania passenger drowning with her infant child.

photo of a U.S. WWI enlistment poster spurred by Germany's sinking of the Lusitania

Photo: U.S. WWI enlistment poster spurred by sinking of the Lusitania. Source: U.S. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

While England was hoping this tragedy would bring the United States into the war, it would be another two years before President Wilson decided to send Americans to fight. Wilson had won a second presidential term running with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” This slogan didn’t resonate with everyone, as this political commentary shows. Among its many grievances, this editorial includes anger over the sinking of the Lusitania.

editorial opposed to President Woodrow Wilson running for a second term, Tucson Daily Citizen newspaper article 15 July 1916

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona), 15 July 1916, page 4

After events like the sinking of the Lusitania and the intercepted Zimmerman Telegram, which revealed that Germany offered U.S. territory to Mexico in return for assisting Germany in the war effort, the United States finally entered the war on 6 April 1917.

article about the U.S. declaring war on Germany and entering WWI, Patriot newspaper article 22 March 1917

Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 22 March 1917, page 1

Were any of your ancestors on board the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section

———————

* Passenger and Crew Statistics. The Lusitania Resource. http://www.rmslusitania.info/people/statistics/. Accessed 5 May 2015.

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank