This week @ GeneaMusings Randy has asked us to consider what our dream database would be
Define one or more genealogy or family history databases, that are not currently online, that would really help you in your research. Where does this database currently reside?
What are some of the things people are wishing for??
1)Randy stated that he would like to see an index to the San Diego Union newspaper as well as index to probate records
2) Chris states that he has an interest in seeing Pennsylvania marriage, deed & probate records go online, in addition to a nationwide county level inventory of records.
3) Tina would like to see NARA’s Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Land records
4) Mel also has a desire to see newspaper indexes go online, one from Hawaii and one from San Francisco – in addition to some other resources
5) GeneaDiva has a request close to my heart – the actual images of TN Death Certificates, as well as those from AK and AL. She also has a newspaper in her list – an index to the Jackson, TN paper and one from Jonesboro, AK.
6) Family Tree Writer keeps it simple — every small town newspaper indexed!
7) Transylvania Dutch also desires newspaper indices -for the St. Louis Dispatch that is comprehensive enough to cover existing gaps; better indexes for the St. Louis Globe Democrat; and indexes for 4 St. Louis area Jewish newspapers.
From these posts that I could quickly locate (there may be more and I’m sorry if I missed you), there is something that very clearly stands out for me. Do you see it? NEWSPAPERS!!! 5 out of 7 people have newspaper indexes on their wish list. Guess what? That is also what I desire for my dream database.
As I began doing genealogical research, I quickly realized the tremendous value of newspapers; I think primarily because of the work of the Evansville Public Library’s Browning Obituary Database and how I was able to find a tremendous amount of information about my husband’s family using their extensive database. When I considered how I could do something to give back to the genealogical community as I felt I’d been given too, I quickly settled in on creating newspaper indexes.
Instead of just wishing for my dream database, I’m making it happen!
For these efforts, I have three separate newspaper indexing projects going on. True, they are slow-going, but they have been incredibly valuable for my understanding of local history and culture. And, I try as I can to share notices from them with other researchers by posting to message boards, looking up persons named in the articles in Ancestry Member Trees and sharing them with tree creators, and sharing them with USGenWeb sites & project archives.
Some people help out by indexing records for FamilySearch & Ancestry. I personally, would rather work on my own databases. My three projects so are:
a) Roanoke Beacon Index — newspaper of Plymouth, Washington County, NC. So far, I’ve covered issues from the late 1800s. In addition to my efforts, I’ve just recently made contact with another researcher who wanted to help, so now there are two of us working on it. This is a weekly paper and the database includes 96 issues so far.
b) Kinston Free Press Index – newspaper of Kinston, Lenoir County, NC. To date, I’ve covered issues from the late 1800s to early 1900s. This is a daily paper and so far I’ve done 81 issues. Right now I’m working in 1905.
c) Black Nashville History & Genealogy Blog – this started with my interest to index a former black newspaper of Nashville, the Nashville Globe, but I’ve expanded the scope to include other aspects of the history & genealogy of blacks in Nashville. This is the one I get the less work in on because I have to visit the public library to capture the content. With the other two, I have purchased microfilm and had the microfilm digitized so I can work on them as I wish.
Here’s to making dreams come true! When I’m done with my academic studies in May, I am looking forward to really picking these projects back up; adding a few more newspapers to the mix and hopefully recruiting a few other interested researchers in helping with the work. In the ideal world, I’d love to have a database for the newspapers of each of the counties I coordinate for the NCGenWeb Project (Jones, Martin, & Onslow — I already have Washington covered w/ the Roanoke Beacon).
Fundamentally, as I am a librarian, I believe area public libraries should be spearheading these efforts. Some are, but so many more could be involved. Until then, you’ll find me indexing away!