Illinois Ancestors: Genealogist tracks digitized newspapers

Illinois Ancestors: Genealogist tracks digitized newspapers

California genealogist Larry Parker recently learned of many websites having digitized newspapers and forwarded his list to Richard Eastman for his online genealogy newsletter. The list includes many Illinois newspapers as well as other states and counties "which have entities (usually libraries) that have had newspapers and documents scanned." Parker's list can be found at and comments from other researchers include additional websites.

Parker's research experience is interesting and may be relevant for other genealogists. He writes, "I did a site search for my ancestor's name, without success. However, I knew his date of death, so I searched page by page through an issue or two, and I was able to find a 1912 obituary for him, which was printed even though he hadn't lived in Geneseo for the last 12 years of his life. I was thrilled with the new-to-me information that told me where he had been between the 1840 and 1860 censuses. He had been a 49er for three years!

I also found an obit for his wife and brother (and learned) who his two youngest children had married and where they then (1912) lived.."

A recent webinar offered by the Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) featured Patricia Walls Stamm's presentation, "Newspaper Research; More Than Obituaries."

The handout for her talk includes a list of the various types of information that newspapers provide all with information on our ancestors. She also listed websites having digitized newspaper projects. Her list is copyrighted, but a Google search can help one find URLs for such free websites as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library's Newspaper Collection, the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection, and Wikipedia's List of Online Newspaper Archives.

Members of ISGS have free access to videos of all previous webinars as well as handout materials. Visit for more information.

As one whose ancestors lived in the New York City area, I have had great success locating articles about them in the website of Old Fulton Postcards at where one can conduct a search in "over 26,800,000 old New York State historical newspaper pages."

NYC online resources

Don Eckerle and Bob Boeckle were recent recipients of the National Genealogical Society's Award of Merit for providing vital New York City data on the website of the German Genealogy Group at

The databases that can be searched, free, include:

— Index to deaths in New York City from variable dates through 1948.

— Index to marriages in New York City from variable dates through 1937; indexed by both bride and groom names.

— Index to births in New York City from variable dates through 1909.

— Indexes to selected cemeteries in Suffolk and Nassau Counties.

— Index to alien statements from the Selective Service System beginning in 1940 from New York City and State and New Jersey.

— Index to World War II period "German Enemy Aliens," a list of names and addresses of German males living in New York City who were not citizens.

— Indexes to various records in select churches.

The website also has a searchable list of surnames being researched by the society's members. Check the website for the complete list of databases and verify periodically for updates.

On a personal note, the society's newsletter is always most interesting.

Anyone with ancestors in the New York City area (especially those with German ancestry) would enjoy reading each issue. A free sample copy (in PDF format) is available.

14 years of grants

Megan Smolenyak has recently celebrated the 14th anniversary of giving grants to deserving applicants. She has awarded 173 grants since May 2000 and the most recent recipient is the Carpatho-Rusyn Society's National Cultural Center in Munhall, Pennsylvania.

Visit her Honoring Our Ancestors website at and read her articles and newsletters, purchase her helpful books, and learn how to apply for one of her grants. She writes, "genealogical societies, local and specialized libraries, and avid genealogists are always short of the funds they need. I'd like to take a tiny step toward addressing this problem."

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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