Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Trove Tuesday: Using Newspapers to "Value Add" to Your Family History

On this day a century ago... the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald looked like this:

1912 '[No heading].', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 23 October, p. 1, viewed 23 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1289517
My favourite take out from the 1912 edition is this great little advert about "The Cult of the Corset", with corsets called names like 'Marcelle' and 'Nadine':

1912, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 23 October, p. 1, viewed 23 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1289517


Today, it looks like this:


2012, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October, p. 1, scanned 23 October 2012.
And I was surprised to find this little gem on the front page, in amongst all the serious news about cuts to the baby bonus and euthanasia:

2012, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October, p. 1, scanned 23 October 2012.

Even if you don't find your ancestors named in newspapers, you can still look up key dates and find out what else was happening locally, nationally, or globally, on the day they were born, married or died. Newspapers really give genealogists and family historians an opportunity to flesh out their family history.

For example, on this day in 1912, the SMH reported that Great Britain had declared its neutrality in the Balkan War. What if it had declared war instead? Wouldn't that be an interesting addition to your family history:

"My grandfather, Jacob Smith, was born on 4 August 1914, the same day that Great Britain declared war on Germany, starting the 'war to end all wars'."*

Or even just knowing the weather for that day can be an interesting addition to a story:

1912, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 23 October, p. 1, viewed 23 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1289517
Using this article from the SMH, and a birth record, you could write:

"My grandmother, Ida Mae McDonnell, was born on a sultry and unsettled day in Sydney. She was born at 9am on 23 October 1912, during her parents' first spring in Australia after emigrating from Ireland."*

Rather than writing the more bland:

"My grandmother was born at 9am on 23 October 1912 in Sydney, six months after her parents emigrated from Ireland."*

How have newspapers helped you "value add" to your family history? Do you stop looking if you don't get a hit on their name? Why not read a newspaper from the day your grandfather was born and see what else was happening in his neighbourhood, in his country, in his world. And if you haven't joined in on Trove Tuesday yet, I invite you to see what you can find and write up a quick biography with some "flesh" from what you find on Trove, and either post it here as a comment, or start a blog (if you don't already have one).



* these people are the product of my imagination, and in no way do they represent real people, alive or dead.