However, their military service was almost always mentioned in their obituary notice—as in this example, published in the Barre Gazette (Barre, Massachusetts), 31 July 1840, page 2, of the late Isaac Van Wart (1751-1840) of Tarrytown (Westchester County) and Pittstown (Rensselaer County), New York. Obituaries, birth announcements and marriage notices are some of the excellent resources newspapers provide family historians. During times of war, draft, slacker, and casualty lists are another helpful genealogical resource. In addition to information about your individual ancestors, newspapers provide the stories about what the entire United States was going through, to help you put your ancestors’ experiences in context and thereby come to understand them a little more. Digital newspaper archives online have become the core tool for modern genealogy, helping genealogists and family history researchers discover more about their family’s military past than ever before possible.
Researching Genealogy with Military Records and Lists in Newspapers From the Revolutionary War to Pearl Harbor to Iraq, newspapers are a valuable resource for researching your military ancestry and learning about the history of war in the United States. Newspapers have been a dependable source of information that Americans have relied upon throughout this nation’s history.
U.S. War History in Newspapers This was vividly demonstrated after Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor launched the U.S. into World War II. The next day Congress declared war on Japan—and Americans were riveted by the bold headlines and news stories splashed across the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.
Omaha World Journal (Omaha, Nebraska), 8 December 1941, page 1. Newspapers tell us what happened every day of our ancestors’ lives. From the Revolutionary War to the wars in the Middle East, newspapers let us read about our ancestors’ participation in the nation’s conflicts—and what the country as a whole went through. We volunteered, we were enlisted in the U.S. military through the draft—and when we didn’t register for the draft, the government issued “slacker lists” to encourage full participation in the war.
U.S. Military Draft Lists Military draft lists were published in newspapers, like this one printed in the 26 July 1917 issue of the Perry Republican (Perry, Oklahoma), page 1. It is a census of the men living in Noble County, Oklahoma, in 1917—a valuable genealogical resource to help with your family history research. Similar lists were the “slacker lists” or “draft dodger lists”: listings of those persons that tried to evade the draft. After World War I the United States War Department issued lists of those men that did not register with the military draft. These lists were widely published in newspapers across the country, like this example from the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 25 May 1921, page 1. From the declaration of war through obituaries published decades after the conflict ended, newspapers have been a dependable source of information about our ancestors and their participation in the United States Armed Forces. Newspapers reported on the battles and covered the stories of the war every step along the way. Family historians can gather facts for their family trees and put them in the context of the war as it happened. U.S. Military Casualty Lists Another valuable resource for family historians are the war casualty lists many newspapers published. In this example, published in the Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 6 August 1918, page 1, the newspaper published the full casualty list and spiked out the Georgia men that died in a prominent boxed note that appeared on page one. Most U.S. citizens do not remain in the military as a lifelong career. However, their military service was almost always mentioned in their obituary notice—as in this example, published in the Barre Gazette (Barre, Massachusetts), 31 July 1840, page 2, of the late Isaac Van Wart (1751-1840) of Tarrytown (Westchester County) and Pittstown (Rensselaer County), New York. Obituaries, birth announcements and marriage notices are some of the excellent resources newspapers provide family historians. During times of war, draft, slacker, and casualty lists are another helpful genealogical resource. In addition to information about your individual ancestors, newspapers provide the stories about what the entire United States was going through, to help you put your ancestors’ experiences in context and thereby come to understand them a little more. Digital newspaper archives online have become the core tool for modern genealogy, helping genealogists and family history researchers discover more about their family’s military past than ever before possible. Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 7 April 1917, page 1.
GenealogyBank adds another 13 million records – obituaries, news articles and more. More than 1,800 newspapers were updated and new titles added. That’s too many titles to list here – but here are some of them: Alabama, Mobile Mobile Register. 1980-10-16 to 1983-05-30 Arkansas, Little Rock Arkansas Gazette 1838-01-02 to 1871-11-25 Arkansas, White Hall White Hall Journal* 10/2/2009 to Present
Here are a few tips that every genealogist should know. Using an online index
Researchers using an online index sometimes try to tell the computer everything they know about their deceased ancestor. Assuming that the computer will sort through all of the facts and narrow down the hits to just their ancestor – they will type in the person’s full name, complete dates of birth/death, nicknames and any other facts that might be helpful.
Sometimes – less is more.
What you want to do is try multiple approaches as you interrogate the index.
1. Search on the full name: first name, middle name, surname. Give it a try and see if it promptly gives you the results you want. This is particularly effective if the parts of the name are distinctive, uncommon words.
2. Not finding your guy? Then – try again. This time search on only the surname. Or – if the first name is distinctive – search on just the first name. 3. Notice that once you have made your initial search you may narrow down your search to only the obituaries, marriage notices or birth announcements.
Click on Obituaries and the computer will bring you only the 55 obituaries – instead of all 2,651 article results for “Starbird”.
This is a handy tool for speeding up your search.
4. Be careful not to narrow your search too much.
It is common for new researchers to only search the “local” newspaper published in the town where their ancestor once lived. That is a common mistake.
Newspapers routinely published information about people living far from the town where the newspaper was published.
For example – Chloe Starbird – wife of John Starbird died in Portland, Maine – but her obituary appeared in the Boston Semi-Weekly Advertiser (16 March 1822) – published in another state. Newspapers routinely published articles about people who lived in other counties; or other states. Their mandate was to fill the newspaper with news every day and to expand their circulation base. So – editors routinely added birth, marriage and death notices for individuals – providing their readers with the news they needed.
Notice that in this same example from the Boston Semi-Weekly Advertiser (16 March 1822) – that there are obituaries for individuals from Portland, Maine; Dublin, New Hampshire; Sturbridge; Shrewsbury; Bolton; New Braintree; Barre, Vermont; Zanesville, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Think big – search all of GenealogyBank – then narrow your search by region, state or town.
AL. Huntsville. Huntsville Gazette*. 1881-06-18 to 1894-12-29 CA. San Francisco. Elevator*. 1872-11-16 to 1898-06-11 CT. Mystic. Mystic Journal. 1859-03-12 to 1862-12-27 CT. New Canaan. New Canaan News-Review. 2009-11-05 to Current CT. New London. New London Gazette and General Advertiser. 1825-01-05 to 1826-12-27 CT. Middletown. American Sentinel. 1826-04-05 to 1833-03-06 CT. Middletown. Middlesex Gazette. 1829-01-07 to 1834-01-23 DC. Washington. Colored American*. 1898-03-12 to 1904-02-27 DC. Washington. Daily National Intelligencer. 1850-10-16 to 1852-12-31 DC. Washington. Grit*. 1883-12-21 to 1884-10-18 DC. Washington. Washington Bee. 1893-01-07 to 1910-06-25 IA. Fort Madison. Daily Democrat, The. 2009-12-19 to Current IL. Quincy. Quincy Whig. 1868-05-03 to 1876-12-30 IN. Indianapolis. Freeman. 1895-09-21 to 1911-02-11 KS. Fort Scott. Fair Play*. 1898-04-22 to 1899-06-16 KS. Hutchinson. Blade*. 1919-12-20 to 1922-04-01 KS. Kansas City. Advocate. 1916-01-07 to 1921-12-30 KS. Lawrence. Western Recorder*. 1883-03-17 to 1884-11-06 KS. Topeka. Capital Plaindealer*. 1936-09-20 to 1938-08-06 KS. Topeka. Kansas Whip*. 1934-12-21 to 1955-09-30 KS. Wichita. Wichita Post-Observer*. 1953-01-23 to 1953-12-25 KY. Frankfort. Palladium. 1802-07-01 to 1803-12-24 LA. New Orleans. Times-Picayune. 1950-04-05 to 1961-05-15 MA. Boston. Boston Daily Advertiser. 1860-01-03 to 1889-12-31 MA. Boston. Boston Journal. 1884-07-01 to 1884-12-31 MA. Cape Cod. Cape Cod Chronicle, The. 2009-10-02 to Current MA. Gloucester. Gloucester Telegraph. 1842-01-01 to 1842-12-31 MA. Springfield. Hampden Federalist. 1821-01-03 to 1823-03-05 MD. Baltimore. American and Commercial Daily Advertiser. 1801-01-31 to 1809-4-24 MD. Baltimore. Maryland Journal. 1785-06-28 to 1794-11-28 MI. Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo Gazette. 1915-08-03 to 1921-02-23 MI. Shelby, Utica. Shelby-Utica News. 2009-10-07 to Current MN. St. Paul. Appeal*. 1908-09-05 to 1923-11-24 NC. Albemarle. Stanly News and Press, The. 2009-10-10 to Current NC. Newbern. Newbern Sentinel. 1826-01-07 to 1828-06-12 NC. Yadkinville. Yadkin Ripple, The. 2009-10-02 to Current NJ. Trenton. New Jersey State Gazette. 1796-10-18 to 1799-02-19 NY. Brighton, Pittsford. Brighton-Pittsford Post. 2009-10-04 to Current NY. Goshen. Orange County Gazette. 1806-05-20 to 1814-09-20 NY. New York. Irish World. 1893-09-02 to 1905-04-08 NY. New York. New York Herald. 1869-05-21 to 1869-07-21 NY. New York. New York Herald. 1895-07-14 to 1895-08-08 NY. New York. New York Herald-Tribune. 1856-07-01 to 1877-06-15 NY. New York. Spectator. 1823-11-18 to 1824-10-26 NY. Poughkeepsie. Dutchess Observer. 1820-11-01 to 1821-12-26 NY. Dover. New-Hampshire Republican. 1825-01-03 to 1825-09-27 OH. Chillicothe. Scioto Gazette. 1801-08-02 to 1814-04-28 OH. Cleveland. Plain Dealer. 1967-12-01 to 1970-09-10 OH. Logan. Logan Daily News, The. 2010-01-10 to Current OH. Marrietta. Ohio Gazette. 1806-04-24 to 1811-12-09 OH. Sandusky. Sandusky Register. 1849-10-02 to 1850-02-15 OH. St. Clairsville. Ohio Federalist. 1816-08-15 to 1816-12-05 OR. Ontario. Argus Observer. 2009-10-02 to Current OR. Portland. Oregonian. 1948-12-20 to 1962-12-15 PA. Philadelphia. Democratic Press. 1808-03-28 to 1818-06-30 PA. Williamsburg. Virginia Gazette. 1766-03-16 to 1774-12-29 PA. Williamsburg. Virginia Gazette. 1775-02-03 to 1776-07-26 RI. Warren. Herald of the United States. 1796-01-02 to 1812-12-12 SC. Charleston. City Gazette. 1825-05-02 to 1825-08-31 TN. Nashville. Nashville Gazette. 1819-05-26 to 1827-02-14 TN. Sevierville. Mountain Press, The. 2009-10-02 to Current TX. Big Spring. Big Spring Herald. 2009-10-02 to Current TX. Brownwood. Brownwood Bulletin. 2009-12-03 to Current TX. Dallas. Dallas Morning News. 1979-02-01 to 1979-05-31 UT. Salt Lake City. Broad Ax*. 1895-08-31 to 1897-01-30 VA. Amherst. Amherst New Era Progress. 2009-10-02 to Current VA. Amherst. Nelson County Times. 2009-10-02 to Current WA. Seattle. Seattle Daily Times. 1953-01-01 to 1969-09-30
GenealogyBank announces that it is adding 10 more newspapers from 9 states. These newspapers will be added by the end of this month.
We will also be expanding the coverage of 15 newspapers that are already represented in GenealogyBank. It’s a great day for genealogy! And …. the month is still not over…. we have even more newspapers that we will be announcing in the days ahead. Sign up now and see what you’ll find about your family!