I am not finding my great-grandfather, what do I do now?

The steady flow of newspapers, records and documents going online on GenealogyBank gives family historians a lot to search and comb through.

These newspapers and documents were published over the past 3 centuries – so sometimes it takes a little detective work to find our ancestors.

Here are a few tips:
1. First search for the person by name. Put in the person’s last name and first name. Examine the results and see if you are able to quickly spot your relative. I had a person write me and ask why he couldn’t find his relative Gayla Marie Jackson. By repeating the search & using only the first name: Gayla and last name: Jackson – her obituary came right up. TIP: Limit your search to only the first name and the surname.

2. If you don’t find a person after the first or second attempt – step back and search on just the surname and slowly add additional facts.
I recently helped a person with the surname: Suárez.
Clearly that is a common surname and will produce too many hits – over 27,000 articles and records. So repeat the search and limit by the year of death. I did that for Suárez 1934 and was able to quickly spot his relatives. Funeral del joven Ricardo Suárez – Prensa (TX) 25 Aug 1940.

We have very few genealogists that write us saying that they cannot find their relatives but we are here to help. If you’re not finding your relatives – alert me right away at: gbfeedback@genealogybank.com. Let me see what I can do to help you uncover your relatives and document your family tree.

We want you to have success in documenting your family and wish you all the best in using GenealogyBank.
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Joshua Hempstead (1678-1758) – I was blind but now I see.

New London Historical Society (CT) is doing a terrific job serializing Joshua Hempstead’s diary on their site.

Styled the Joshua Hempstead Blog – each entry of his diary captures the details of life in Colonial Connecticut. Hempstead’s diary entries are dated from September 8, 1711 through November 3, 1758. He died 22 December 1758.

According to historian Bruce P. Stark, “The diary, the only one of its kind in Connecticut, fills over 700 tightly-packed, printed pages and provides a detailed picture of the life of Hempstead, his family, neighbors, and acquaintances. It also includes a great deal of information about events in New London and eastern Connecticut.” See his complete article: Joshua Hempstead published on the Connecticut Heritage Gateway.
I am looking forward to reading his diary entries for the time his sight was restored in 1831. Here is the account from the newspaper Connecticut Courant 12 July 1831

According to the newspaper he was blind for ten years but being “of an industrious habit” he went to work in his fields every day.

One day after being “led into the field” … “while at work, he placed, as usual, his staff in the centre of a hill of corn, as a guide when stooping with a quick motion, the top of the staff struck his eyebrow a violent blow and glanced over the eye, producing a severe pain.” The blow restored his sight and he “hastened home alone, bearing the joyful tidings, to his astonished and happy family.”

Now – that’s a great family story. If you don’t have your ancestor’s diary passed down in the family or preserved at a historical society – check and see if the stories of their lives were recorded in one of the 3,800+ newspapers in GenealogyBank.

It’s a Great Day for Genealogy!

Many thanks to Barbara Matthews for alerting me to the New London Historical Society’s decision to put Joshua Hempstead’s diary online.
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I can’t find my ancestor – what am I doing wrong?

For most searches on GenealogyBank it is easy to find your ancestor. You type in their name and in an instant you spot them in the search results list.

So - what do you do when your ancestor’s name doesn’t come right up in the search hits?
Just like any other genealogical resource you need to step back and see what your options are and try various ways to search on the site.

Consider your search strategy.
1. Sometimes less is more.
Be careful how you type in your ancestor’s name.
His full name might have been: Willard Jacob Teskey …. but the newspaper article may have simply called him:

Willard Teskey
Willard J. Teskey
W.J. Teskey
Bill Teskey
or only: Teskey

Try typing in variations of the person’s name.
I have found that typing in only the surname can quickly get you the best results.

Tip: You almost never want to type in a person’s “middle” name. Newspapers rarely use a person’s full name.

Be Careful How You Limit Your Search
It is tempting to limit your search to only one state or even to one newspaper. That can often be the most appropriate search strategy. However, if your searches did not locate the obituary or article about your ancestor – try your search again and this time do not limit your search geographically.

If that produces too many hits – then repeat your search and limit it by the likely starting and ending years when your ancestor. Be sure add a few years in both directions so you will bring up the most possible hits.

Tip: Newspapers often published brief biographies and articles years after a person died. So be careful how you limit your search or you might miss the articles you are looking for.

GenealogyBank brings together newspapers, books, reports and documents from over 300 years. During that time printers had access to varying qualities of newsprint; pieces of type and printing presses.

1. Newspapers have been printed on newsprint paper of varying quality. Some are smooth and some pages are rough.

2. Printers had only so many pieces of type and the newspaper had a deadline. It would be easy when they set the type for the day’s newspaper to swap in an “m” for a “w” or switch a “d” and a “p” or a “1″ and a “l”. The reader in 1843 would hardly notice the difference. But a modern computer might struggle to interpret each word if the piece of type was a different letter or had been damaged.

Let me give you a similar example that has circulated on the Internet for years:

Cna yuo raed tihs?
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotui t a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

This is an extreme example that shows the problems that computers have reading the old newspapers and documents. Individuals reading an old newspaper quickly adjust to the look, feel of the newspaper and learn how to read it. GenealogyBank has been working on these issues for years and improved and enhanced our OCR capability.

GenealogyBank uses state of the art OCR software and we have teams of indexers that review and tag each item – focusing on names, obituaries, births, marriages and other data of high importance to genealogists.

3. Still can’t find your ancestor? Then, its time to dig in and search the target newspapers, page by page. GenealogyBank makes it easy to bookmark a specific newspaper, combination of newspapers or locations. You could then go through the newspapers – month by month – clicking from page to page to quicly see if your ancestors were mentioned.

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Joel Munsell – a genealogist & publisher who went to jail to protect his sources

Joel Munsell was an active genealogist, publisher, printer and journalist. He’s always been one of my “heroes” for his legendary contributions to genealogy and local history. (Photo – Munselle’s Picassa Gallery)

I was looking on GenealogyBank and found his marriage to Jane Caroline Bigelow (1812-1854)

17 June 1834 Independent Inquirer 28 Jun 1834

And here is his obituary - (New York Herald – 17 Jan 1880).

Look at this article from the New York Herald – 28 Feb 1845.

Munsell published a small pamphlet in 1845 – Pulpit Sketches, or Dreams of a Pew Holder. The author was not identified. The pamphlet by innuendo subjected prominent citizens to “libelous ridicule”.

Real controversy erupted and following a Grand Jury Munsell was found in contempt and had a “choice to pay two hundred and fifty dollars or stand the imprisonment” …. all for not revealing the author’s name. He went to jail.

This case is held up as one of the early cases where journalists went to jail rather than reveal their sources.

But dig a little deeper.

This pamphlet was pointed and barbed – on page 27 the new chapter compares “Rev Dr. J.N.C. to “Judas Iscariot”. Tough stuff.

Who was the Rev. Dr. J.N.C.? Why attack him?

As in our day when the President’s team had moral problems they called on the minister’s of the day to resolve the issue. In Andrew Jackson’s day his cabinet was deeply involved with a scandal involving Peggy Eaton – that drove cabinet members to resign.

The President called on the Rev. John Nicholson Campbell (1798-1864) to examine the situation and counsel with the parties involved. Read the details here in the San Jose Mercury 3 May 1903.

Those actions in 1831 resulted in Munsell’s pamphlet in 1845.

But, who was the author?

Librarians and historians have concluded that the author was Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1937). So it was a 13 year old boy who wrote this pamphlet attacking the most learned and respected clergy of his day.

My question is: Did Joel Munsell refuse to say who the author was from journalistic zeal to protect his sources or because his source was a 13 year old boy? Or – was someone else the author of that pamphlet?

Write me and tell me what you think.

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I am looking for my family tree. Can you tell me how to find it in GenealogyBank?

GenealogyBank – is an online library of resources – millions of them. Like a library it has an index – in our case an index on every word making it easy to find references in each of the issues of the newspapers, books etc. It has over 1 billion names.

(
Illustration: Wikipedia Commons)
Documenting your family tree is a lot like putting up the family Christmas tree. You have the bare tree and now you need to look in the boxes of Christmas decorations and put up each one.

It takes time to pick out and put the items in just the right place on the tree – but when you’re done – wow – it always looks great.

So – let’s get started on putting together your “family tree”.

What do you know about the family?

Who are you looking for?

For example – what are your grandparents or great-grandparent’s names?

When and where were the born?
When, where were they married?

So – you’ll see who you are looking for and with the when/where of their birth, marriage and death – you can decide where in GenealogyBank will I be likely to find that information.

If they died in say, 1982 – then look in the Social Security Death Index and in the America’s Obituaries section.

If they served in the Revolutionary War – then we’ll look in the early newspapers for articles and in the Revolutionary War Grave Index in the “Historical Documents” section.

Tell me more about your family and we’ll start researching in GenealogyBank to discover the original sources that document their lives.

Taking the time to gather together the facts to document your family tree is worth it – just like it is to take the time to put together the family Christmas tree each year.

We can do this.
Tell me more about your family.

Tom

How do I limit my search to only the "List of Private Claims" volumes?

A: We are working on making it possible to bookmark each one of our historical documents on GenealogyBank. When we have that enhancement in place you will be able to search only one book at a time.

For now – you need to fine tune the search by adding the term “List of Private Claims” in the include keywords with search terms box and adding 1880 to the date field.That will narrow your searches to just those two volumes. See the attached example.

You may then add the surname of the family or name of the individual you would like to research.

You may search these volumes on GenealogyBank:

List of Private Claims ….. (1880/1881) – Volume One
List of Private Claims ….. (1880/1881) – Volume Two

Discover your heritage, preserve it and pass it on!

Be a part of GenealogyBankSign up Now.

Find and document your ancestors in GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank adds and expands 25 newspapers in 17 states.

GenealogyBank adds and expands 25 newspapers in 17 states.

AK. Juneau.
Daily Record-Miner
1 issue. 10/8/1903

CO. Colorado Springs
Gazette-Telegraph. 12 issues. 5/24/1903 to 3/11/1920

CT. Middletown
Constitution. 37 issues. 1878-01-01 to 1878-12-03

CT. New London
New London Gazette. 146 issues. 1828-01-07 to 1835-12-30

KY. Louisville
Western Courier*. 148issues 1813-11-16 to 1816-09-26

LA. New Orleans
Times Picayune. 246 issues. 1861-05-15 to 1894-09-04

MD. Baltimore
Baltimore American. 12 issues. 6/27/1905 to 8/12/1911
MD. Baltimore
Federal Republican. 232 issues. 1811-03-19 to 1812-06-18

NC. Henderson
Daily Dispatch. 4/10/2002 to Present

NE. Nebraska City
Daily Nebraska Press. 2 issues. 1875-04-12 to 1875-08-23

NJ. Cranford
Chranford Chronicle. 6/9/2005 to Present

NJ. Somerville

Chronicle. 6/11/2005 to 3/3/2007
NJ. Somerville
Reporter. 6/9/2005 to Present

NJ. Summit
Independent Press. 8/2/2006 to Present
NJ. Trenton
Trenton State Gazette. 303 issues. 1849-01-01 to 1849-12-31

NY. New York
New York Herald. 206 issues. 1874-04-25 to 1883-12-17

OH. Cincinnati
Cincinnati Volksfreund*. 813 issues. 1863-02-18 to 12/28/1904

OH. Cleveland
Plain-Dealer. 307 issues. 1/15/1914 to 9/27/1922

OR. Portland
Oregonian. 1920 issues. 1867-04-22 to 3/10/1907

PA. Philadelphia
Aurora General Advertiser. 12 issues. 1797-03-01 to 1797-10-18

RI. Pawtucket
Pawtucket Times. 1 issue. 3/18/1920

SC. Charleston
City Gazette. 512 issues. 1823-01-01 to 1825-12-31

SD. Pierre
Capital Journal. 12/11/2007 to Present

UT. Salt Lake City
Salt Lake Telegram. 1 issue. 3/28/1919
UT. Salt Lake City
Salt Lake Tribune. 1 issue. 1893-03-02

Discover your heritage, preserve it and pass it on!

Be a part of GenealogyBankSign up Now.

Find and document your ancestors in GenealogyBank

The best source for old newspapers & documents on the planet.

Period!

Marriage Announcements -

Get the most out of GenealogyBank!







Whether you’re looking for a wedding announcement published on July 22, 1802, July 22, 1862 or July 22,1962 – GenealogyBank is your comprehensive source.
I didn’t know that was in GenealogyBank!

(Dallas (TX) Morning News – 22 July 1962)
(Maine Eagle – 22 July 1802)
(Baltimore Sun – 22 July 1862)

TIP: Focus your search by the type of article – In this example limit your search to only the marriage notices. Click on the highlighted topic and only those articles will appear in your search.

Discover your heritage, preserve it and pass it on!

Be a part of GenealogyBankSign up Now.

Find and document your ancestors in GenealogyBank – the best source for old newspapers & documents on the planet.

Period!

California – Sutro Library Announces Closing Saturdays; Some Fridays

Sutro Library announces Friday, Saturday closing schedule.

The Sutro Library, the most extensive genealogy collection west of Salt Lake City and the San Francisco branch of the California State Library, announces changes in its days of operation. As of July 1, 2009, Saturday hours have been discontinued.

In compliance with the Governor’s furlough order, Sutro Library will close three Fridays this month: July 10, 17, and 24.

Beginning August 1, 2009 and continuing until June 2010, the library will close the first, second, and third Fridays of each month.

Regular service hours for Sutro are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding furlough Fridays and state holidays.

Sutro Library offers the most extensive genealogy collection west of Salt Lake City; a comprehensive local history collection; Adolph Sutro’s rare book and manuscript collections; genealogical, family and local history catalogs; and special indexes, guides, and bibliographies. Library materials can be accessed through the California State Library’s Main Catalog, and Sutro staff is available to assist in-house customers.

Items from the Sutro Library may be borrowed on interlibrary loan through local public libraries. For additional information or directions to the library, visit, phone (415) 731-4477, or e-mail. Laura Parker, Public Information Officer; California State Library; 900 N Street, Suite 300; Sacramento, CA 94237; (916) 651-6798.

You read it here first.

A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y

I am often asked: Do you have Canadian newspapers in GenealogyBank?

Well, no we don’t – but that’s not the question you want to ask. GenealogyBank has over 3,800 newspapers – all of them published in the United States – but it has several million articles, records and documents on Canadians.

Tip: I have been researching my family tree for 45 years and I can tell you that you’ll find the information on your family where you least expect to find it.

Here’s a wedding announcement for Alexander James Ross of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Mary Moore McArthur of Picton, Nova Scotia – they were married in Chicago 6 March 1882. (Inter Ocean 14 March 1882).

Newspapers were published – every day.
And every day editors had to fill the next day’s paper & they wanted to sell papers.

So they pulled “news” from a wide circle of influence. Birth announcements, marriage announcements, and obituaries from small town and big city newspapers.

Just like CNN or Fox News – the daily newspapers had to fill their pages with hard news. News that people wanted to read and that would sell subscriptions.

If you are researching Canadian genealogy then
GenealogyBank is an essential online tool.

Eastport, Maine is a small town on the Maine coast right on the border with New Brunswick, Canada.

As you would expect the Eastport Sentinnel regularly carried birth, death and marriage announcements for individuals and families from the Canadian side of the border.

Look at this example of marriage notices published in the
29 March 1828 Eastport (ME) Sentinnel. Look at the places mentioned “Lubec” – “Dennysville” – “St. Andrews” – “Antigua” – “St. Stephens” and “Charlotte”. Towns on both sides of the border. “Antigua” refers to the island nation of Antigua.

Nothing unusual here – just a typical day with a newspaper editor packing his paper with the information his readers wanted to read.

Just like GenealogyBank – everyday we pack in more resources that genealogists need and rely on. You’re not finished with your research until you’ve searched the newspapers in GenealogyBank.
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