Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Using America's Historical Newspapers on AmericanAncestors.org

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I posted yesterday about the External Databases on the NEHGS http://www.americanancestors.org/ website. One of them is the Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876 provided by Newsbank (and probably accessible through http://www.genealogybank.com/, a commercial service).

I clicked on the link for this database on the http://www.americanancestors.org/ page for External Databases, and saw the Newsbank page with the link for the America's Historical Newspapers database:


I clicked on the link and the database description with a Keyword search box appeared. For this search, I input the name "jonathan lewis" (in quotes) plus "richmond" (where he lived) to see if there were any articles about Jonathan Lewis of Staten Island in Richmond County, NY. I have three ancestral families headed by a Jonathan Lewis there, so I thought there might be a good chance of finding an article. Here is the screen:




I clicked on the "Search" button and received 21 matches - the top of the page is shown below:

Each match of the search criteria provides a summary of the source citation and a thumbnail image of the record that might include one or more of the search elements. The user can click on the "View Article" link, the "View Full Page" link, or the thumbnail image to see the article.

There were several articles that concerned Jonathan Lewis who died in 1785 in Richmond County, NY. Here's what one of them looked like on my screen:

The user can zoom in or out, move the image around with the "magic hand" feature, save the image or print the image. Source citation elements are provided above the image area.

The executors of Jonathan Lewis's estate were trying to sell the property. The article above described the location, the size, the buildings and other personal property that were up for sale. I quickly opened my Family Tree Maker program and transcribed the contents of this article into the Notes for Jonathan Lewis, using my "side-by-side" method of transcribing from image to program notes. Note that I manipulated the image to the far right of the screen, and reduced the window size for the FTM program so that I could see the image and type into the Notes:




I spent an enjoyable hour or more in this database looking for articles about ancestral families. There were at least three articles about the Jonathan Lewis who died in 1785, and one article about the Jonathan Lewis who died in 1764. All of them shed more light on the property owned by both men.

Membership in a genealogical society often includes much more than the society newsletter, journals and program meetings. Some societies, such as NEHGS, and libraries offer access to online databases that contain useful information about our ancestral families. Check them out! You may not need separate subscriptions for several historical newspaper collections - they may be available through your membership in societies or libraries.

1 comment:

Heather Rojo said...

Glad to hear you were successful with your newspaper search. This same database is how I did my series of posts earlier this year on Romanus Emerson. The newspapers revealed so much about his life and eccentricities.