IMPORTANCE OF NEWSPAPERS


Why are newspapers important to the historian, genealogist and academic?
  1. They contain millions of names, and refer to every subject from politics to current events to gossip.

  2. Newspapers are contemporary accounts. History is recorded as it occurred, although often not accurately or without bias.

  3. All categories of people are included - women, children, the poor, Afro-Americans, the criminal and the town drunk. Newspapers are not turn of the century mug books that include biographies of prominent WASP families only. Everyone had an opportunity to get their name in the paper, regardless of their status in the community.

  4. Newspapers expand over a large time line in the United States. The first title dates from 1690. In Ohio, they date from 1793.

  5. There are over 300,000 titles of newspapers in this country, in every community - some having two or three competing firms. The Ohio Historical Society microfilm collection includes 2704 Ohio newspaper titles representing 489 cities and villages.

There is no question that newspapers are of vital importance in every educational field dealing with people -- history, politics, economics, statistics, social studies, among others. Your library should do its part in providing an index to your local newspaper.

Anyone can pick out names - right? There are several items that genealogists look for in indexing a name:

  1. Vital statistics - is this a birth announcement, marriage or anniversary, or a death notice or obituary?

  2. Document relationships - does the item state that one individual was a son or daughter of another. For example, "John Smith was in town meeting old acquaintances last week. Mr. Smith has resided in Denver, Colorado for over twenty years and is a sister of Mrs. Bertram Jones of this city."

  3. Legal notices - legal notices are important to index. In areas where the local courthouses records have been destroyed, especially in the South, these notices are doubly important.

  4. Location identifiers - The previous example I gave puts a former resident of the community in Denver, Colorado. This may be the only way to trace migration in a family history. The post office, unfortunately, has not saved change of address cards when someone moves.

  5. Local news - any local event is important to identify in the index. Don't skip over long lists - letters left at the post office, delinquent taxes, election results, school graduates.

  6. Other items that may be overlooked:
a. advertising - note the first time it appears
b. poetry/letters - often submitted by initial - you may eventually figure out the name of the correspondent
c. gossip columns - if the story is good!

A cow, at Mr. Knowlton's, died last week.

Last Friday, Evington Eckelberry was brought before Esq. Laning on the charge of stealing a dollar from his mother. He was found guilty and sentenced to thirty days in jail, to pay a fine of $25 and be imprisoned till paid.

Mr. C.K. Smith's handsome bull dog took a front seat in the Baptist Church Sunday evening, but a vigorous remark by the pastor that he did not preach to dogs, caused the said handsome bull dog to retire unceremoniously, much to the merriment of the congregation.

The little son of B.H. Fowler, who was so severely whipped by a school teacher named Miss Gibson, near Greenwich, some weeks since, has died and was buried on Tuesday. An abcess formed in the vicinity of his broken ribs, and we are told his sufferings were terrible up to the time of his death.

Mr. Editor: -- A lady wants to say a few words to the grocery merchants, and really it is a delicate subject to handle. You know it is now time when our grocery men set their vegetables and fruits outside on the pavement, and you know there are many tall dogs in town. Now, Mr. Editor, you must know what I want to say -- what we want is the vegetables and fruit on boxes, or in other words, "above the high water mark."

Selected Ohio Newspaper Indexes and Abstracts


Note: This bibliography is getting to be about ten years old. Newer titles are missing and I will add these in eventually.

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