Using Newspapers: Leads to Other Records

When you are researching in newspapers, the articles you find should lead you to other records. Well, unless the article is one of those from the gossip column that reported your ancestor went to the big city to go shopping last week. We are probably not going to find shopping receipts in our ancestors’ papers, but you never know! Articles, and obituaries in particular, can lead us to look for records such as: census, probate, land and tax, church, school, naturalization, ships’ lists, and … that list is nearly infinite. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Adam Brand obituary, Wood County Sentinel, Bowling Green, Ohio, 14 Nov 1889, p. 3

This obituary for Adam Brand states that he was “born in Hesse, Germany, and followed his sons to this country 21 years ago…” Since the paper was published in 1889 that means he arrived in the U.S. in about 1868. There are some other clues:

Frederick J. Brand biography, J. H. Beers, Commemorative, Historical and Biographical Record of Wood County, Ohio, (Chicago, Illinois: J.H. Beers and Co, 1897, p. 862.

In the biography of Adam’s son Frederick, Adam was “a shoemaker by occupation” was married to Catherine Hof, and his parents (Adam) came to this country in 1868.

These clues from the newspaper (and a corroborating biographical sketch) led me to ships’ passenger lists.

“New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 June 2012), manifest, S. S. America, 1 June 1868, [no page numbers on manifest], steerage passenger 228, for Adam Brand, age 63.

I know you can’t read that… here’s a zoom-in on the folks in question:

Adam Brand, 63, m, shoemaker, Ersrode
Anna Brand, 60, f, Ersrode
Catherine Brand, 14, f, Ersrode

Adam’s wife’s full name is Anna Catherine (as is his daughter’s). The clincher here is that his occupation is that of a shoemaker, corroborating the information I have from previous research. And they arrived in 1868, just as two other documents also reported.

So, go back through the newspaper articles you’ve found. What other records could they be leading you to? Make a list. Turn that list into a research plan. And then get started!

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