Many Americans are intrigued by their past, so much so that finding out where their ancestors come from is at the top of their to-do lists. Over the past few decades, with the help of the internet, it’s easier than ever to conduct a search from the privacy and comfort of your home.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of newspapers reserved in libraries across the states. The database allows the average person to begin the search into their family’s past by having just a few last names and photos to go on. For instance, online sites such as Genealogy Bank have archival papers from many different cities and states including, for example, the Galveston Daily News which contains information with regard to Galveston, Texas.
Accessing Your Past
Prior to the internet and its vast wealth of knowledge, the only way people could find out about their families’ pasts was to ask older relatives. From the information they obtained they would travel to different parts of the country. Some people even went to other countries. Today, there’s no need to get in your car or board a train, bus, or airplane. You simply put in a family name and the search begins.
Many people, who have already gone through the process and found family information, became amazed by their background and, for many, their humble beginnings. Remember, the newspaper archives go back at least three hundred years back to the horse and buggy and long before the Little House on the Prairie days. Inventors, doctors, farmers, and businessmen were all part of their pasts. It’s an amazing journey and it explains why so many people are currently caught up in the genealogy craze.
Read Between the Lines
Newspapers, especially when the population was smaller, took a genuine interest in the on-goings within the communities they covered. Social gatherings that attracted large crowds got a write up the next day in the paper. You can expect to find articles about wealth, crime, home sales, births, deaths, and marriages as well as divorces. In fact, the archives are quite revealing. If a new business opened its doors, it’s in the paper. If a scandal occurred, it’s in the paper. Immigrants are also listed in the paper. However, many of the passengers on immigration ships changed the exact spelling of their prior names.
Creating a Family Tree
Connecting the dots from all the information you have obtained can take some time. You’ll need family photos, papers, and the records obtained from your online search. However, if you work with an older relative, you’ll gain valuable information that, in many cases, can clear up any discrepancies or blank spaces, allowing you to connect the dots completely. Once you have your information collected and preserved, it will also benefit you to visit places where your ancestors lived. Walk the streets; visit the graveyards and the hall of records. Oftentimes, if you travel the same road, you can find someone there who also did a search in which your family name appeared.
Lead Outside the Country
Often, during your search, especially once you go back a few hundred years, you find that your ancestors lived in other countries around the world. You may find that your family came from Eastern Europe or the north part of Africa. As a result, it may spark a huge interest that leads you traveling halfway around the world to see exactly where your true ancestors lived.
Genealogy is rapidly becoming a major hobby for a large percentage of the population here in the states. If you too want to find out where you truly come from, speaking to older relatives and then searching through archival newspapers can get you off to a fantastic start.