Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fantastic Find: FamilySearch article "United States Newspapers"

I've been asked how I find so many articles in newspaper databases.  Most of it entails having plenty of practice learning all the vagaries  of any given database.  Though most of my searches come up without meaningful results, I find the process fascinating, so I just keep trying.  Okay, I'm a bit obsessive.

The FamilySearch article, "United States Newspapers," has a great section, "Identifying and finding newspapers in an area," that can really help you know what might actually exist.

In particular, they mention the Chronicling America project, which I use a lot:
1690-present: The Library of Congress' Website Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers contains information about America's newspapers from 1690 to the present, including the locality each paper covered, its title, publication years, and current locations in various repositories. The database is searchable by place or title. After using this source to identify newspapers in your ancestor's locality, we recommend you use both this site's listing of repositories as well as OCLC/WorldCat to find repositories in your area that have the newspapers in question. Chronicling America also contains a growing collection of digitized newspapers published between 1836 and 1922, and is planned to become a comprehensive source for digitized U.S. newspapers from that time period.

For example, my 3rd great grandfather, John Nosler (1800-1864) in Winterset, Madison County, Iowa.  In his estate file I found the following newspaper clipping:
A lot of interesting stuff on this page.
Madison Co., Iowa, probate case files, John Nosler (1864), confirmation by E. W. Fuller for publishing notice, 5 February 1866; digital image, Ancestry ( : 6 Feb 2016). 

I went to the Chronicling America to see if I could find out where and IF this particular issue of the Winterset Madisonian was available so I could see the "Original Notice" in its original context.

There are two options at Chronicling America that I use most often to see what might actually be available; "All Digitized Newspapers, 1836-1922," and the "US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present."  The latter directory contains all known newspapers to the LOC, and may or may not be digitized (most haven't been yet).

As of this posting, there are 153, 642 titles listed in the directory.

I selected Iowa and the county Madison to search:

The first page of results of all newspapers (digitized or no) known to the LOC, from Madison County, Iowa, where my Noslers were for a while.

I didn't find any place that has the 1865-1866 run of the Winterset Madison that I was searching for (darn it!).  However, I chose the Winterset Madisonian 1874-1880 on the second page to see what libraries/archives have this run of the newspaper, just for an example.  Here is part of the results, showing how sporadic holdings can be (sometimes a library/archive only has 1 issue), but also leads where individual issues might possibly be, even if not online.

NOTE: I did a blog post last August about Data Visualization: Journalism's Voyage West, which uses Chronicling America's records to give a visual representation of where newspapers were from the Colonial American era to modern America.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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