Thursday, 2 August 2018

Book: The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide

This 2018 publication by James Beidler, who has a background in journalism and nearly twenty years experience as a genealogy columnist, is subtitled "how to find your ancestors in archived newspapers".
The content is organized into three parts plus three appendices.

Part One: Learning the Basics
In five chapters, 66 pages, it covers first the history of newspapers, from the colonial period through the golden age of newspapers prior to competition from electronic media, and thereafter. The second chapter discuss the type of content found and the two subsequent chapters focus in on content for births, marriages and especially deaths. The final chapter covers the various formats in which newspaper content may be found, from the original hard-copy in newspaper morgues, to microfilm, to digitzed and OCRd content, clippings, photo collections, published extracts and indexes. While the original newspaper may not survive, or be inaccessible, important information may be preserved. (BTW: FamilySearch updated its United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014 collection on 1 August.)

Part Two: Accessing Digitized Newspapers
Who doesn't like free? That's the topic for the first of the five chapters, 68 pages, of part two. The US is fortunate in having a variety of such free initiatives such as the huge government Chronicling America, the large if imperfect Google News Archive, and the individual Old Fulton New York Postcards project. There are also aggregators. Newspaper.com and GenealogyBank warrant their own chapters, followed by information on other subscription sites, including those only available through academic subscriptions, and other ways to access newspapers.

Part Three: Diving Deeper into Newspapers
Ethnic and international newspapers are covered in the first two chapters of the four in this 46 page section. Beidler covers African-American papers as well as those of his German origin. Canada rates less than a page, not counting a one-page story from Stephen C. Young; Britain and Ireland a little over a page (British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast), while Australia's Trove gets a mention and half-page illustration. Contents of the Preserving, Collecting and Citing Newspapers chapter are self explanatory while the final chapter Putting It All Together gives case studies.

If you like to follow a roadmap the flow chart in Appendix A will appeal. The 34 page second appendix lists resources state by state. The book ends with an appendix on creating a newspaper chronology, index and miscellaneous back material.

While the methodology content in the book has broad application the focus on the United States of America means it can be recommended for readers with that interest.

The Ottawa Public Library has 5 copies in its collection, the Toronto Public Library 2 copies. Both have a short waiting list.

Authors:Beidler, James M. (James Michael), 1960-
Title:The Family tree historical newspapers guide 
how to find your ancestors in archived newspapers 
Publisher:Cincinnati, Ohio : Family Tree Books, [2018]
Edition:First edition.
Characteristics:239 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

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