Friday, January 29, 2010

Using the Library of Congress "Chronicling America" Site

I love to browse on the Internet, just like I love to browse in a library or repository. I call it my "Forrest Gump Method of Genealogy Research" of finding genealogy goodies - "Genealogy research is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to find, but you have to look everywhere your 'genealogy gem' might be hiding."

Last night, tired from entering names, dates, places and sources in my database all afternoon, I decided to go browsing through the online newspapers. I hadn't recently checked out the Chronicling America set of newspapers on the Library of Congress web site, so I headed there. The home page looks like this:

The description of the site says:

"Welcome to Chronicling America, enhancing access to America's historic newspapers. This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). "

What newspapers for what years are available? The list of available newspapers, alphabetically by state, is here. Newspapers are available, from 1880 to 1922, from the following states: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Just on a whim, I chose the District of Columbia because I wanted to see if there were any articles about the McKnew family in the DC newspapers. I clicked on the "Search Pages" box on the home page. I picked "DC" from the list of states, kept the search for all years between 1880 and 1922, and when I input "McKnew" to the search box I received 852 results.
That was too many to sift through, so I refined the search a bit. I knew nothing about the wife of a Jeremiah McKnew in my database (I didn't know which Jeremiah it was, either!), except that they resided in Washington DC after their marriage in 1852. So I entered "rosalie mcknew" in the Search box for "with all the words" in the screen below:

The search options include "with any of the words," "with all of the words," "with the exact phrase" and "with the words within '5' words of each other." For the latter, the number of words can be changed - the default is 5.

With "rosalie mcknew" in the Search box for "with all of the words," I clicked on the "Search button and saw:

There were 31 matches for my Search criteria, shown above with thumbnail images of the actual newspaper pages. If I click on one of the images, the page opens in a window, as shown below:

The Search terms on the page are highlgihted in red, as seen above. The user can zoom in or zoom out, use the "magic hand" to maneuver around the page, etc. I zoomed into the article with the red area in the image above, and saw:

That looks interesting. I wonder if that is the Rosalie I wanted? I went back and put "rosalie mcknew" in the Search line for "with the words within 5 words of each other." There were three matches then, all about Rosalie McKnew's death in June 1906. They provided some interesting information - none of which I had before.

I will show the three matches and transcribe them in another post. Suffice it to say, that I received some "genealogy gems" by using my "Forrest Gump Method of Genealogy Research!"

UPDATED 8 p.m.: Edited some of the text since I think I found the "right" Jeremiah, but it wasn't the one I thought it was! Still not 100% sure!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a nifty resource find. Thanks, Randy! :)