Saturday, February 10, 2018

Not Off the Shelf — Yet

I realize I've talked about the benefit of using newspapers in genealogical research before. That is definitely a great way to enhance the portrait we seek to create of our ancestors' lives. When those ancestors happen to have lived in a community-minded locale now making such archival provisions, it is truly a gift for the researcher. I've especially been reminded of that again as I stumbled upon that newspaper treasure trove freely provided by the Arkansas City, Kansas, public library system.

Apparently, I'm not the only one singing that song. Just the other day, genealogy guru Thomas MacEntee sent out a notice under cover of his Genealogy Bargains newsletter, recommending the soon-to-be-published book by James Beidler, The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide. Set to be released this coming March 20, the book is available for pre-order through Amazon (where you can preview some of the contents by clicking "Look Inside" on the left column). However, frugal followers of Mr. MacEntee can click through his newsletter to receive a special fifteen percent discount. (If you aren't yet a subscriber to Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Bargains, you can sign up for the newsletter here.)

James Beidler is known throughout the genealogy community for his many roles. Columnist and blogger at Roots and Branches, he is editor of the quarterly newsletter for the Mid Atlantic Germanic Society, and is a frequent contributor to other genealogical publications. He has served as President of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, and as Executive Director of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.

I realize not every ancestor has found his or her place in the newsprint of their era. But what a gift that can be for a researcher who does stumble across an ancestor's entry in a local newspaper. Time and again, I've been able to piece together the story of an ancestor's lifesomeone who, prior to that bonanza of multiple mentions in local papers, was just a hollow shell punctuated with the genealogist's BMD data. If you remember, for instance, my discovery of the story behind my grandmother's fourth cousinJohn Syme Hogue, the man of many aliases whose international crime spree unfolded before me, one newspaper edition at a timeyou are witness to a life episode which many in our family would never have known. Newspapers connect the dots which enable us to better see the full person, rather than just the isolated points that marked the start and end of an otherwise unknown life.

While I usually reserve this Saturday post to review a book which, having been bought long ago, has since languished on my reading shelf, this is the perfect time to switch things up. While The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide is not yet on my shelf, it certainly sings the same tune as my theme song. I look forward to taking a closer look.

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