Newspaper Indexes

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…..

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