Friday, October 13, 2006

Nuggets in the Newspaper Archives

There is useful information in many of the newspaper entries on the different Newspaper Archive sites. I used's database some time ago to find out about my father's or my grandfather's nefarious doings in Leominster MA in the late 1930's (they had the same name, and the articles don't say if it was Senior or Junior), via the Fitchburg Sentinel.

For instance, one of them had his car stolen, one of them hit a person on a bicycle, and one was arrested for drunk driving (my aunt says it was Senior). I know it was my father in the semi-pro baseball box scores and basketball scores. I've been collecting these and will share them with the family in the Christmas family newsletter.

I went looking today at the FHC for articles about the earlier generations in Leominster. For instance:

1) In the 28 August 1890 issue of the Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, there was a great article about the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. James Hildreth of Leominster (James was brother to my great-great-grandfather, Edward Hildreth). It lists their children and grandchildren, their siblings, their nieces and nephews, plus a list of gifts they received. It ends with a beautiful poem about 50 years of marriage.

2) The 28 December 1925 issue of the Fitchburg Sentinel has an obituary for Edwin Butler Bryant, widower of Juliette G. (Seaver) Bryant. Juliette was a daughter of my 3rd-great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver by his first wife. I never knew her death date. The obituary lists it as 1 September 1925. In addition, it tells about Edwin Butler Bryant - he was born Edwin Butler, but changed his name before his marriage in 1889. He was known as "Yankee Notions" for many years in Fitchburg, and was a junk dealer. I looked for an obituary for Juliette, but found none - I think they only did the males in those days. uses the Newspaper Archive collection for these old newspapers. With the image on the screen, you can print the page (at 8-1/2 by 11, they come out real small - you will need a magnifyer), save the page to your hard drive or thumb drive, or send it to your email address, from whence you can print it or save it. When you send the page to your email address, you get a link to the Ancestry image, and you have a limited time in which to access it on

The problem I have with this newspaper collection is that they have indexed every word, so when you use a search string like "juliette seaver bryant leominster" you get a number of hits for pages with those words on them - either the words together or all the words separately (e.g., Juliette Smith, Hiram Bryant, Leominster mills, Fred Seaver). It works well for uncommon names, but you will get a lot of hits for common names (e.g., "edward hildreth sophia leominster" gave me about 30 hits between 1890 and 1910). On the other hand, the current system sure beats searching the newspapers page by page on film.

By the way, the Fitchburg Sentinel was 12 pages on 28 December 1925 and cost two cents. It has interesting ads, also.

Have you investigated the old newspapers in the Ancestry collection, or in collections held by your public library or genealogy society? You may find some interesting nuggets to add family history flesh to the bones of your ancestors.

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