For anyone that loves historical newspapers as much as I do, this post is for you. In reading the latest issue of Family Tree magazine, I read the column they have on the Library of Congress’ website for historical newspapers. While I’d been to the site before, I didn’t realize until I read this column that the site offers a directory to published newspapers that also lets you see which libraries hold it! This is great!
From the 1 Apr 1898 issue of the Roanoke Beacon (Plymouth, North Carolina)
Mrs. Sallie Hinton of Turkey Foot precinct, this county, is probably the head of the largest family in the world. She is the mother of twelve children, all alive and married. She is the grandmother of fifty-seven grandchildren, and the great-grandmother of twenty-two great-grandchildren, all of whom live within a few miles of her. She is seventy-one years old and an active lady, does all her milking, cooking and other housework, and enjoys the very best of health. — Georgetown (Ky.) News.
My digitized microfilm arrived today and I am ecstatic! This is going to be so much more convenient than making trips to the public library to scan the microfilm. My first batch that I had digitized were issues of newspapers from Kinston, NC and from Plymouth, NC. In fact, in the issue I just finished, I found my first reference to Ft. Barnwell (where my father is from). And, I also found a reference to the Koonce family I mentioned in a previous post.
In my last post, I had a comment that inquired how I obtained old newspapers. Thus far, I have ordered them from the North Carolina State Archives and State Library. They have a whole bunch of North Carolina Newspapers on microfilm as a result of the United States Newspaper Program. While they do offer interlibrary loan for the newspapers, I decided to take advantage of their microfilm duplication service – they charge $12 a reel. This is a much better option for me than interlibrary loan b/c I don’t have the time to go to the library and spend large chunks of time to look through them within a specific time frame and then return them, so it’s been easier for me to just own them and then I don’t have to return anything.
Even better, while I feel lucky to have the Nashville Public Library to be able to go to and do digital scans of the microfilm, I have recently found a service that will convert my microfilm to digital images for me. I plan to send them two reels this week and their turn around time is two days, so by the weekend, I should have enough digital newspaper images to keep me busy indexing for a couple of months. They are not cheap, but for the money I pay to the drop-in daycare that I use for Kaleya when I do go to the library, a reel costs me equivalent to two trips to the library. So, it will be WELL worth it!
Now that I know the library does microfilm duplication, they also do the same for all the county records they have on microfilm. So, next month, I plan to purchase some county records on microfim, namely, some from Jones County (see previous post).
One day I will figure it out – I promise! I have decided yet again to switch up how I am doing my newspaper projects. I am optimistic that the third time’s a charm 🙂
Trial #1 – My experience using the Browning Genealogy Database of Evansville, IN to research Kalonji’s family was so positive, that I decided I was going to build a newspaper database just like it! However, that one is so complex, that when I created my initial site, my structure was complex and I found it taking too long to enter information about each article. I quickly became discouraged.
Trial #2 – I then looked to the structure of a blog for transcribing content. I felt that since blogs get picked up by search engines, it would help keep the information readily available for a long time to come. Moving to a blog format meant losing some of the flexibility in searching that I’d ideally prefer, but I thought it would be an easier and quicker endeavor. I was wrong. Doing transcriptions of all the articles has proven to be very, very time consuming and more than I expected. So, I was getting discouraged again.
Trial #3 – So, I decided to go back to the database structure. However, this time, my philosophy is keep it simple. My “database” consists of one table with seven fields and information in it that is not “normalized” – i.e. follow convention database design principles. However, my goal is not to be exact in how I structure the data, but to get it in a format that can be searched in several ways and gets me to get the information out there quickly. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been doing this and so far I am sated. 🙂 In two nights, I have indexed content from 9 issues of the Roanoke Beacon. If I continue at this rate, I could feasibly do three-four months in a weekend’s worth of work and within a year, could have several years of data online. With this approach, I will continue to have the blogs specific to each newspaper, but I will use them instead as a means to post additional information that does not fit within the scope of the index. I think this will be best. I am deciding not to publicize the exact links for awhile until I build up some content, so you can expect that the transcription blogs will not see much activity for the next few months…..
Yeah! I got a new all-in-one printer this past week. I can now finally scan all my documents that I send away for, so I have been busy doing that these past few days. My other printer developed a short in the power cord, so I’ve been without a scanner/printer for months. Do you know how annoying it is to photograph a document and then turn it into a PDF file? So tedious.
I also this week updated the software for the web program, The Next Generation, that I use for my genealogy site. I love TNG! Once I found this gem last year and started using it, I have been hooked to doing my genealogy as it is very user friendly.
In other news, I was reading my normal blogs and found my name over on The Genealogue! Thanks Chris for the mention of my newspaper transcription blogs. I hope to only do more.
I now have gone through six months of issues of the Roanoke Beacon newspaper for the blog. I have done up until the end of 1889. Starting in a few weeks, I’ll begin to work on 1890 – maybe I can finish that year within a few months. Since I’m not posting everything, I find that it doesn’t take too long to get through one issue and when I’m working on a newspaper transcription, I tend to focus on it for a few days at at time.
The blog is now listed on the USGENWEB page for Washington County. I also periodically post items to the Ancestry/Rootsweb boards as well to help people find information.
Now that I have worked out the format for how I want to do these newspaper transcriptions, this is addicting! I started on another paper – the Talladega Daily Home of Talladega, Alabama. A few months ago, I ordered one roll of microfilm covering the last half of 1961 as I was looking for the obit of Kalonji’s great-grandfather. So, I have started with that one. I plan to now order the earliest available as I like to start at the beginning 🙂
More people should do this really! It is quite fun to read through these old newspapers. While I know I’ll never get all the content up that I’d ideally like, I feel like every little bit counts! The new blog is listed on my sidebar of links.
And, I’m not done yet! I can think of at least two other newspapers that I want to work with, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to order microfilm. Thanks goodness for the microfilm scanners at my public library! Working with digital files are so much easier than dealing with printouts. And, it’s free to use the scanners!
I have just finished transcribing a lot of content from the January 18, 1907 issue of the Nashville Globe, and I already have over 40 posts. Wow. That’s a lot of content! But, I am hopeful that it will be forever cached and available long-term to those who seek it. Tomorrow, I shall start on the January 25th issue. Or, maybe I’ll start a couple of supplemental pages to make looking for subjects and browsing issues a little easier. We shall see!
And, in other news – my Nashville Globe blog was added to Genealogy Blog Finder! I’m so happy! This weekend I’ll work to get it publicized in as many places as possible as I really want to get this as accessible as possible.
In my last post, I talked about my trip to the Evansville Public Library. This weekend, I visited my public library for my newest project 🙂
I received the first three rolls of microfilm that I ordered for the Roanoke Beacon. This is a newspaper for Washington County, NC where my maternal grandmother and her family/ancestors are from. On Sunday, I went to my public library to start looking at the microfilm and the information I’ve learned so far has been extremely interesting. I am creating an online index to the items in the paper that I think have the most local and genealogical import, so it will be a selective index. I created the database last month and have used another genealogist’s transcription to help finalize the fields. I have entered three issues worth of information and I already can tie certain individuals to the more prominent history makers in Plymouth. I have found news items on black people, marriage notices that were not listed in the county’s official records, and so many other cool things. Fascinating indeed!