Finding My Relative’s Story: The Search for Madge E. Richmond

The other day I asked myself: what can I realistically find about my relatives in GenealogyBank? How many details about my family can I discover?

So I decided to find out by searching GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives for a family member we know little about: Madge E. Richmond (1866-1942).

collage of newspaper articles about Madge Richmond

Collage of newspaper articles about Madge Richmond

Her Career as a Teacher

Madge Richmond was a teacher for 25 years; almost all of those years were spent teaching at the Technical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

photo of the entrance to the Technical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts

Photo: Technical High School, Springfield, Massachusetts. Credit: Temposenzatempo.

Beyond that we had the family traditions of her kindness, intellect and work ethic. We knew little else about her.

The family has two pictures of her—one as a young woman.

photo of Madge Richmond as a young woman

Credit: Portrait in possession of the family

The other picture of her was taken in the years after her retirement.

photo of Madge Richmond in her retirement years

Credit: Portrait in possession of the family

Madge Richmond was an “ordinary person”—your typical relative. She was beloved by the family and the school community where she worked, but otherwise she was an unknown person to the world at large.

What could I hope to discover about her in GenealogyBank?

Would newspapers have published anything about such a plain, ordinary person?

All of our relatives are special to us but—for the most part—unknown beyond our family and friends.

The Search for My Relative Begins

In my initial search on GenealogyBank I used only my relative’s name: Madge Richmond.

That first and last name search produced 331 record matches—far too many for me to sort through them all.

So I decided to try searching for my relative again, this time narrowing my search to only the newspapers in the New England states.

I did this simply by checking all the New England states on GenealogyBank’s newspaper search page.

Selecting New England states on GenealogyBank's newspaper search page

Selecting New England states on GenealogyBank’s newspaper search page

That refined search produced 80 search results.

OK—I can work with that. I began looking through the records.

Bang.

The very first record I opened was about was about her! Even better, the article included a photograph of her! It was her retirement notice in the local newspaper.

Will Retire Today, after Long Career in Public Schools, Springfield Republican newspaper article 19 June 1936

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 19 June 1936, page 6

Look at the last line in this newspaper article, a quote from the dedication of that year’s Tech School yearbook:

“To Madge Eleanor Richmond, whose steady poise, clear vision and wise judgment have distinguished her service in this school and have marked every association with faculty and students.”

So—now I know her middle name was “Eleanor.”

I’d always assumed her middle name was Eleanor—but now I have proof.

The old newspaper article explained that Madge was the head of the mathematics department, one of the most popular teachers at the school, and was retiring after teaching for nearly 25 years.

As I looked through more of the search results, I found dozens of mentions of Madge in news articles about school events, lists of faculty and the like. All of these stories, clues and little details I found in the newspaper archives helped me learn about a relative I didn’t know very well.

Here are some of the newspaper articles I found in GenealogyBank that gave me more of Madge’s life story.

These historical newspaper articles have given me a more complete picture of Madge’s life—and a very nice portrait of her.

Here are some of the key moments and events from her life, as captured in newspaper articles.

30 June 1911

newspaper article about Madge Richmond

“Miss Madge Eleanor Richmond was also elected teacher of mathematics in the technical high school. She has been a teacher in the Dover (N.H.) high school.”

Great. I knew she was a teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts, but I didn’t know that she was also a teacher in Dover, New Hampshire.

17 April 1914

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Union 20 April 1914

Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 20 April 1914, page 9

OK—here’s another fact new to me: Madge was principal of Ansonia High School (Ansonia, Connecticut) for 12 years prior to coming to Springfield.

July-August 1915

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Daily News 12 July 1915

Springfield Daily News (Springfield, Massachusetts), 12 July 1915, page 4

More information: in the summer of 1915 she attended Cornell University.

4 July 1916

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 1 July 1916

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 1 July 1916, page 4

She liked Cornell so much that she and two friends went again the next year.

December 1917

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 30 December 1917

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 30 December 1917, page 8

She spent Christmas of 1917 with her brother and his wife: Dr. and Mrs. Allen Pierce Richmond of Dover, New Hampshire.

June-August 1919

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 27 June 1919

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 27 June 1919, page 3

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 29 August 1919

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 29 August 1919, page 4

In 1915 Madge attended the summer session at the University of Michigan. She also visited her brother Dr. A.P (Allen Pierce) Richmond in Dover, New Hampshire, and her sister Mrs. William Jordan (Abigail May Richmond) in Lisbon, Maine.

So, she also attended the University of Michigan.

That’s good to know.

15-16 November 1919

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 16 November 1919

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 16 November 1919, page 11

My grandmother— Madge’s niece—was an accountant at the American Optical Company in Southbridge, Massachusetts—and in Boston, Massachusetts?

I didn’t know that.

That’s a real find.

The social briefs in newspapers have been a real goldmine of information about Madge Richmond and the family!

21 May 1921

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 15 May 1921

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 15 May 1921, page 154

In 1921 she went to study at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 17 July 1921

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 17 July 1921, page 11

She left on 16 July 1921 for Colorado.

June 1929

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 23 June 1929

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 23 June 1929 page 36

In 1929 she would go down to St. Augustine, Florida, traveling through the Shenandoah Valley on the trip down and along the coast on the way back. She planned to stay at the St. Augustine Hotel.

January 1934

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Springfield Republican 27 January 1934

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 27 January 1934, page 10

In 1934 she was named the Head of the Mathematics Department at Tech High School.

14 January 1942

Madge Richmond Dies in Hingham, Boston Herald newspaper obituary 20 January 1942

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 20 January 1942, page 17.

Services in Hingham for Former Teacher, Boston Herald newspaper article 22 January 1942

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 22 January 1942, page 21

newspaper article about Madge Richmond, Boston Herald 21 June 1942

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 21 June 1942, page 23

And finally, in these three old newspaper articles, we learn of her death and the funeral arrangements.

That’s an incredible amount of genealogical and family history information I found in old newspaper articles—lots of stories, lots of details about her life—that have turned Madge Richmond from just another relative (with only name, birth and death dates) on the family tree into a member of the family that we know and understand better.

Dig into GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives to see what family history discoveries you can make and bring your family tree to life!

GenealogyBank Has Tomorrow’s Obituaries Today!

We have seen the future and we are publishing it in GenealogyBank today.

Did you realize that GenealogyBank actually includes obituaries that will appear in tomorrow’s and next week’s newspapers?

Along with digitizing historical newspapers, we work closely with newspapers currently publishing. Thousands of newspapers around the country are preparing their copy for tomorrow’s or next week’s issue. As they send their electronic feed to lay out these upcoming issues of their newspapers, they simultaneously send that feed to us and we add it immediately to GenealogyBank. So that is why you will see obituaries here that have not actually been printed on paper yet.

Here are just three of the thousands of obituaries that will be published in newspapers in the coming weeks—but already appear online in GenealogyBank today.

collage of recent obituaries from GenealogyBank

Obituaries that appeared online in GenealogyBank before they appeared in print

Our Acquisitions and Tech Teams are working every day to secure more newspapers to add to our burgeoning online archives. Once a newspaper is selected to be part of our newspaper archives, we work to secure a complete back-run of every available issue of that newspaper. Tracking down every newspaper issue and making sure that it is the best possible copy so that it can be digitized and added to GenealogyBank can take time—often years.

Even when there are still some issues missing from a newspaper title, we will launch that title so that researchers will have the benefit of access to millions more articles about their ancestors. After launching a title, we continue our search for back issues to add.

Every day we add new newspaper titles and fill in gaps for our existing titles, updating and filling in missing issues or adding more obituaries to over 2,900 newspapers a month.

In July we will be adding the obituaries from seven more newspapers from Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan. These obituaries will be in our Recent Obituaries collection.

State City Newspaper

Start

End

Maryland Hollywood County Times, The

2011

Current

Massachusetts East Bridgewater Wicked Local: East Bridgewater

2009

Current

Massachusetts Hanson Wicked Local: Hanson

2009

10/19/2011

Massachusetts Plymouth Wicked Local: Plymouth

2010

11/12/2011

Massachusetts Raynham Wicked Local: West Bridgewater

2009

Current

Massachusetts Raynham Wicked Local: Whitman

2009

11/4/2011

Michigan Homer Homer Index, The

2012

Current

GenealogyBank provides genealogists with the most current and most comprehensive online source for newspapers. Find your recently deceased relatives’ obituaries in our online obituary archives today!

Even more Genealogy Blogs …

Earlier this week I wrote: A genealogy blog? What’s that?

I told you about key genealogy blogs that you read daily. But wait, there’s more.
Here are even more genealogy blog sites that are must reading:
Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog – knowledgeable blogger Schelly Talalay Dardashti has one foot planted in her home in Israel and another with her relatives and family here in the States. Her articles go beyond resources focused on Jewish research and cover technology and opportunities that will help genealogists researching other lines as well. Schelly will be speaking on genealogy blogs at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree next weekend in Burbank.
The Genealogue: Genealogy News You Can’t Possibly Use is one of the funniest and informative sites out there. Written much in the spirit of TV’s Colbert Report this is must reading for genealogists. Here is his official portrait on his blog … and be sure to click here and read his About Me page.
Another must read site is: Roots Television Megan’s Roots World written by Megan Smolenyak – the prolific lecturer and author. Her brief blog posts are tech savvy – often speak to DNA research – or to her break through research findings. She is a key leader in genealogy today.
Click here to learn more about her presentations at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree next weekend.

It was Megan’s Roots Television that arranged for Dick Eastman’s interview with me about GenealogyBank. This short upbeat interview gives a good look at the “Wow” value of GenealogyBank - and that was a year ago at the 2007 FGS Conference. We’ve added more than 30 million items to GenealogyBank since then. Click here to watch the video.
Everyone reads Genea-Musings by Randy Seaver – his daily posts focus on his research on the Seaver family, new technology and items he has spotted on other blogs – in the news and beyond – all of it useful.
GenWeekly has been published since 2004 by Steve Johns, Kristin Bradt and Illya D’Addezio. Illya is also the publisher of Genealogy Today which has regular columns; articles; a newsletter and databases that genealogists read, use and rely on.
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