4 Tips for Genealogy Research with Historical Newspapers

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena provides four tips, based on her own genealogy experience, to help you research your ancestors in historical newspapers – including a free Research Log template to help you organize and keep track of your searches.

Ok, so you have a weekend free. You decide to spend it on the hobby you love: family history research. You know you need to research in newspapers. But how do you start? Well before you sit down at the computer and start plugging in ancestor name after ancestor name, take a few minutes to plan out that research to make the most of the limited time you have. These four newspaper search tips will help you – and be sure to download the free Research Log template at the end of the article to help you with your genealogy research.

picture of a stack of newspapers with text reading: 4 tips for genealogy research with historical newspapers

1) Whom to start with?

Sometimes just the hunt itself is the addicting part of genealogy research. Looking at old newspapers and reading old newspaper articles can quickly take up your available time. So before you get too engrossed in reading historical newspapers, focus your research and plan for each individual or family you’re interested in.

First, look at your pedigree chart and decide what your research question is. Do you want to find marriage notices for your most immediate family (parents and grandparents)? Do you want to learn more about that black sheep ancestor? Looking to follow your ancestor’s political career? Write down your research question before you start your research. It’s ok if that question changes as you find new information, but start with a specific question so that your research time has a focus.

2) Get the most out of your ancestor search.

Not all genealogy search engines are equal. And to start searching without taking into consideration how that search engine works can result in a lot of frustration and fewer relevant results.

How is the GenealogyBank search engine different?

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box for its historical newspapers collection

For one thing, the information it finds is via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and not by searching indexed or transcribed fields. (See the blog article Genealogy Search Engine Types & Tips: OCR vs. Indexed Databases.) Because the software does not recognize words but characters, keep in mind that difficulties can arise when the original newspapers are damaged, smudged, or have hard-to-read type.

Whenever you use a search engine, a good rule to remember is that the more information you add, the fewer results you will receive. In essence, as you fill the search engine with names, keywords, places and dates, you are asking for a very specific and narrow result. In some cases, this is important if you are looking for a specific event or place, or when you are researching a common name. But whenever your search results are few, always think about restructuring your search to make it broader. Try different variations of your search, such as using just a name and place, or simply a name and date.

Enter Last Name

One more tip for your search of GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives: don’t forget to utilize the menu choices located on the left hand side of your search results. These options provide you the choice to narrow your search result by the type of article. This is a wonderful tool to help you find what you need, especially useful when you know what kind of article you are looking for.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's seach page for its historical newspapers collection showing the article categories available

3) Get ready, set, search!

So now that you better understand how to search GenealogyBank it’s time to do the fun part: search! While you could just plug in ancestor names and download articles, consider what each historical newspaper article tells you and how you might change your search to accommodate new information you learned. Then consider follow-up searches on additional names, places or even a historical event so that you can place your ancestor in proper context.

As I research my ancestors, I often take some time to read the whole newspaper, reading every section, to get a sense for the community, what was going on, who was coming and going, etc. – you never know what part of the newspaper might hold information about your ancestral family. I even like to browse the classified advertisements to see how they are structured. For example, do funeral notices appear there? Do they have Help Wanted or Lost and Found ads that contain identifying information like addresses and names?

classified ads, Salem Gazette newspaper advertisements 19 November 1833

Salem Gazette (Salem, Massachusetts), 19 November 1833, page 4

4) Document all your family findings.

Ok, so you found some great information about your family, now what? Don’t just save the articles on your computer to languish there until your next research session or – worse yet – to never be found again. Document your family history finds. Research Logs can help you do that by providing a place to insert what you found, note where you found it, and add any comments that you have for further research.

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.

screenshot 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 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 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 research log and a research plan? A 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.

———————-

Spend some time this upcoming weekend researching your family in the newspapers. Nowhere else can you find such a rich variety of stories to help you better understand your ancestors’ lives and their world.

Related Newspaper Search Tips Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Cat Poem by Ethel Maude Colson Shows Her Love

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

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

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

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

photo of an unidentified woman with her cat

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

Her opening stanza sets the tone:

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

Enter Last Name

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

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

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

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

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

Related Poetry Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Iowa Archives: 59 Newspapers Online for Genealogy Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search Iowa Newspaper Archives (1837 – 1902)

Search Iowa Recent Obituaries (1992 – Current)

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

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

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Iowa newspaper links will be live.

Related Link:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Linus Lounsbury, Revolutionary War Veteran

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

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

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

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

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

Great information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would be great if we had that old letter.

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Last Name

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

Related Revolutionary War Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Dad’s Hole in One Story Featured in the Newspaper

Going through Dad’s old papers I found that he had shot a hole-in-one playing golf. In fact he had certificates for four of them. How he liked to golf.

I wondered if these perfect shots were written up in the newspapers – yes, they were.

article about golf, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 20 August 1982

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 20 August 1982, page 31

In the Dallas Morning News, golfer Doris Gray was asked what was “her secret” for shooting nine holes in one. She said: “I just aim for the flag.”

Enter Last Name

93-year-old Ralph Blake (1914-2008) had a successful career in banking and was a decorated war hero who fought in World War II. But, look closer and there in his obituary is a long, full mention of his multiple holes in one.

obituary for Ralph Blake, Republican American newspaper article 8 January 2008

Republican American (Waterbury, Connecticut), 8 January 2008

Everybody has a story.
Big ones – little ones – memorable ones.

GenealogyBank helps you find your family’s stories – all of them.
Find the stories of your ancestors.

Start your 30-day trial now!

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Washington Archives: 87 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

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

photo of Seattle, Washington

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

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

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

Search Washington Newspaper Archives (1889 – 1984)

Search Washington Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

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

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

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Washington newspaper links will be live.

Related Link:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

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

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

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

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

photo of Bess Houdini, c. 1900-1910

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

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

1) She assisted her husband throughout their marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

Enter Last Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She elaborated the point in another 1928 newspaper article:

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

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

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

4) She tried to contact Houdini from the grave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten years is long enough to wait for any man.

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

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

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

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

Enter Last Name

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

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

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

Mrs. Houdini replied in a weak voice, Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Utah Archives: 25 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

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

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

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

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

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

Search Utah Newspaper Archives (1851 – 1945)

Search Utah Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

photo of a state welcome sign in Utah

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

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

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

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Utah newspaper links will be live.

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

7 Tips on How to Find Elusive Ancestors in Newspapers

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

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

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

illustration of Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass

1) Pay Attention to “Please Copy” Notices

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

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

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

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

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

death notices, Times-Picayune newspaper article 23 August 1853

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

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

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

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

3) Name Variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Overcoming Language Barriers in Foreign-Language Newspapers

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

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

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

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

Heiratete seine Grossmutter.

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

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

wedding announcement, New Yorker Volkszeitung newspaper article 29 October 1922

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

6) Social Notices Provide Many Clues

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

Enter Last Name

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

social column, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 18 June 1904

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

7) Broaden Your Searches

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank

Pearls of Life Wisdom from Pink Mullaney’s Obituary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Obituary Articles:

ad for gift subscriptions to GenealogyBank