from Jana Sloan Broglin, CGÂ
Newspapers are the most time-consuming, yet the most rewarding of all research. What a great way to add social history to a genealogy. When using the newspaper, there is more to use than just the marriages, birth announcements, and obituaries. The newspaper gives insight into the day-to-day life of an ancestor. When researching my fatherâ€™s family, I was able to find information regarding his political affiliation as he had been elected to a county â€œcentral committee.â€ Mention in this small town newspaperâ€™s gossip column let me know my grandma had the measles. A gossip column from the mid-1920s mentioned my grandparents going to Houghton Lake, Michigan, with their friends. Quite a find as I had found a photo from that trip.
Even looking at the ads in the local grocery store let me know how much was paid for items that were used in the home, from meat and potatoes, to balls of crochet yarn.
These newspapers also contain ads for cars and trucks. Did your grandfather drive a specific brand of automobile? Maybe there is an ad for the local Chevrolet or Ford dealer in the town where he purchased that favorite car.
Did your family live on a farm? It is a good idea to check the issues of the newspaper near the county fair. See if great-grandpa had the winning steer or corn, or great-grandma had a prize-winning quilt or pie.
For the youth in the area, check for notes about school plays and the playbill listing the actors as well as a published school â€œhonor rollsâ€ and music competitions. Commencement announcements may list the school faculty and members of the graduating class.
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