What do you do when you are looking for the chatty type of local news that can be found for ancestors living in small towns, but this search is for any mention of an ancestor who lived in the big city?
I love researching ancestors who lived in the rural areas of midwestern America. Social pages in particular are the place to find out who was hosting a fried chicken dinner last weekend—and who had been invited to attend.
In this month's research case, however, the relative I'm seeking did not live in one of those quaint towns of the midwest. Aunt Rose lived in a place which before her time had been considered the third largest city in the United States—hardly the type of news beat with room to spare for publishing small town chitchat. However, my goal for this month's Twelve Most Wanted project is to learn more about just who Aunt Rose really was—what she liked, what events filled her days, the people she socialized with. It's just that, except for the richest and most famous, those would not be the details I'd find in The New York Times. I need another resource to scour for those chance appearances in print that the rest of the country's ancestors enjoyed.
Chronicling America, the newspaper archiving project of the United States Library of Congress, is one possibility for finding other newspapers in print during Rose's years in America—basically, from about the turn of the century through maybe the 1930s or 1940s. Since I had found her in earlier census records in Brooklyn—by then, merged with surrounding areas to form the five boroughs we now call New York City—I did a search on Chronicling America for all the newspapers which were printed in Brooklyn during her lifetime, which I can access for free on the Library of Congress website.
While I can certainly repeat that search process for newspapers which might have been available at the time in neighboring Queens, where Rose lived after her marriage to George Kober, her second husband, it is not lost on me how spotty the coverage is of some available newspaper collections. Some newspaper titles are only accessible for a few years, such as The Brooklyn Beacon, from the 1930s. On the other hand, the most obvious target for my search would be one newspaper whose publication dates included in this collection spanned nearly a full century: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
As it turns out, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in all its name permutations, ran from 1841 through 1955, giving me ample time in which to flush out any mentions of Rose or her relatives. Better yet, the paper is freely accessible not only through the Library of Congress, but also through the New York Public Library system.
Most conveniently for me, though, the paper is also carried in the collection of Newspapers.com, providing me ease in attaching any mentions of Rose to her profile page in my family tree at Ancestry.com.
We'll start this search project by looking for Aunt Rose in the most likely place: the collection spanning the most years, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. But this is not merely a search for Aunt Rose. Keeping in mind the "FAN Club" principle, I'll be looking for mentions of any of Rose's family members and friends to see which circles included her in their activities. While I already have found some family members, it would help to widen the circle to gain perspective on what life might have been like for this sister of my paternal grandfather.