Illinois Ancestors: Farm-related newspapers remain relevant today

Illinois Ancestors: Farm-related newspapers remain relevant today


Farm-related newspapers have been an important part of rural America for many years. Currently, 21 such publications pertaining to Illinois, part of the Digital Newspaper Collections from the University of Illinois, are available on the Internet. Ranging from 1841 to 1981, these papers can be browsed and searched by date or keyword/s in the articles, advertisements and photos. The publications having the earliest issues are the Prairie Farmer (1841—1923), Illinois Farm (1855-1864) and the Western Rural (1868-1884).

Searching the database is easy. For example, a search for the word, Danville, yielded 1,000 results, whereas a search for the words Danville and Beckwith resulted in eight hits, including an article in Farm Field and Fireside on Oct. 16, 1897, reporting that a State Historical Library had been "established in 1889 by act of the Legislature, and by law is located at the Capital," with H.W. Beckwith of Danville as president.

Visit to search this collection. Articles from this free database can be printed, downloaded or emailed. Such weekly publications can be most helpful to researchers.

Family coats of arms

A recent article in Richard Eastman's online newspaper (Sept. 24, 2012) warns researchers that Family Coats of Arms are "rubbish" and "fairy tales." He includes a quote from the website of the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland and stresses that "only one person at a time is allowed to use an Irish coat of arms, not an entire family and certainly not everyone with the same surname, related or not." To read all of Eastman's interesting comments, visit His article also includes an updated version of comments he wrote three years ago. He adds: "We are getting close to the Christmas season when many well-meaning individuals buy this junk with the intent of giving them as gifts. I think it is time for a refresher article."

It's easy to become deceived by a company's glowing accounts of a family symbol. Don't be fooled.

Friends Historical Library

The National Genealogical Society has provided a website that can be especially helpful to anyone with Quaker ancestry. At, one can access the three-part article, "Dictionary of Quaker Terms and Phrases." For example, did you know that early Quakers called themselves Children of Light?

The editor of this website notes, "The Friends Historical Library, located on the campus of Swarthmore College (a link is provided) also has some great resources relevant to genealogical research. I noticed a link to Quaker & Slavery and found this a fascinating website."

The Swarthmore Library website's sidebar offers links to Family & Personal Papers, Organizational Records, Manuscript Collections, Visual Collections, Quaker Meeting Records, College Archives and History Resources (including online resources such as full texts of Quaker books).

Find a maiden name

Bill Dollarhide, well-known genealogist and author, has provided a helpful list of places where researchers can find a woman's maiden name. At, his list of 90 such sources includes an unusual observation: The 1825 Iowa census includes the question "Maiden Name of Mother?" for every person listed. It is the only U.S. Census with this question.

Dollarhide also suggests that readers take advantage of the most helpful book written by Christine K. Schaefer, "The Hidden Half of the Family: A Sourcebook for Women's Genealogy." (Family Roots Publishing, Bountiful, UT, published 1999, reprinted 2008, 310 pages, paperback, 8 by 11, ISBN 9780806315829)

Indiana workshops

The Genealogical Society of Marion County will have a free program, Resources at the Indiana State Library, from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 13 at that library. The workshop will be followed by a tour of the facility.

On Nov. 17, GSMC will host an all-day conference, Expansion, Census, Newspapers, & Occupations, presented by Jana Sloan Broglin, a certified genealogist and publisher of more than 70 books.

Information on both of these events can be found at

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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