Monday, August 12, 2013

Discovering Some Helpful Finding Aids

How spoiled we have become, as genealogy researchers, by the myriad online resources that serve up digital copies of documents from all over the world. At the touch of a finger, we can access birth and death records, census pages, city directory listings and even photographs.

And newspapers. Oh, the newspapers.

That one resource—historic newspaper collections—has become my playground in biographical pursuits. It is not only my sandbox, but my time machine as well, transporting me through centuries of publications with little more effort than to sit and wait for the page to be called up on my computer screen.

When I suddenly must go without that luxury is when I realize that I’ve become spoiled. And researching the town of Lafayette in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, has been where I’ve discovered that shortfall.

For whatever reason, Lafayette’s newspaper heritage has not made such a grand showing in the online archives I’ve come to trust. For whatever reason, only a few titles—and precious few time sequences at that—have made their showing on the several sites for which I hold subscriptions.

In all the years in which I’ve researched the Lafayette area, I’ve learned a few work-arounds to this dilemma. For one thing, I’m grateful for the Indiana GenWeb page for Tippecanoe County.

Because of them, I learned about the name index which provides Lafayette newspaper mentions. Thanks to contributor Joan Rodenberger, all names appearing in the Lafayette Journal and Courier, beginning in 1902 and continuing through the next fifty years, are listed in this index.

For instance, all the Murdock listings are shown on this page. While admittedly not as flashy and Web 2.0 as we’ve become accustomed to using, you simply adjust to scrolling down the page to the alpha heading you seek to access dates and brief subject headings for the Lafayette residents you are researching.

Along the way, I’ve also discovered other useful resources. For those interested in other Indiana obituaries, there’s a finding aid listed here at

Of course, if I get more serious about researching Indiana roots, I’m sure I’ll find more resources by joining the Indiana Genealogical Society and keeping an eye out for their Twitter updates via @IndianaGenSoc.


  1. You have practically transformed the "art" into "science"! :)

  2. They have a wonderful GenWeb page! Thanks to volunteers!! :)

    1. I definitely agree, Far Side! It looks like they have done a great job on setting up their page. There would be much that we wouldn't have, except for dedicated volunteers. You are so right about that.

  3. I love old newspapers! But not many that I need are online. I use inter-library loan sometimes. Don't always get lucky, but worth it when I do!

    1. Laura, without an index to those papers not online, I'm sometimes clueless which newspaper to send for. I'm certainly indebted to those kind souls on the various genealogy forums who direct me to the right sources. And a shout out is in order for those reference desk librarians who have also answered my long-distance questions, either by phone or email. Genealogy research certainly requires a network of resources!


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