By Frankie Meyer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Newspapers are a great source of info for genealogists. Obituaries are especially helpful, as are articles about major events that occurred in the areas where ancestors lived.
Examples of life-changing events are epidemics, droughts, fires, floods, development of railroads, the platting of towns and the discovery of valuable ores.
The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress have paired together to offer awards to institutions to digitize newspapers that were published between 1836 and 1922. Each institution that is selected to receive an award must digitize 100,000 pages of an historic newspaper in its state. Although millions of newspaper pages have been digitized, many historic newspapers in various states have yet to be digitized. Copies of newspapers that have been digitized are available online, free of charge, at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
When the site opens, select a state where your ancestors lived and the time frame. Also, enter your ancestor's surname or some key term that you want to check. The site then provides small images of newspaper pages in that state that contain the surname or term that you entered, and will be highlighted each time it is used.
To read an article, place the pointer on the small image and click. Next, click on the plus sign to enlarge the page. To read the article, place the pointer on the page and move it around. When finished with that page, place the pointer on the back arrow at the top of the screen and click. Next, select another page.
To learn about newspapers that have been digitized in Missouri, return to the home screen and select "National Digital Newspaper Program." When the next screen opens, click on "Award Recipients." After the next screen opens, click on "The State Historical Society of Missouri." When that screen opens, click on "Missouri Digital Newspaper Project," then click "county map." Next, select a county.
According to the site, historic newspapers in the following Southwest Missouri counties have been digitized: Carthage Banner, 1866-1879, and Jasper News, 1901-1922, in Jasper County; Neosho Times, 1870-1876, in Newton County; Lamar South-West Missourian, 1870-1874, in Vernon County; Mt. Vernon Fountain & Journal, 1874-1880, in Lawrence County; and Springfield Leader, 1867-1878, and Springfield Missouri Weekly Patriot, 1865-1876, in Greene County.
Since newspaper articles are usually secondary sources, they can have errors. When reading an article about a famous person in the Oct. 21, 1900, issue of the St. Louis Republic, I noticed errors in the date of his birth, the ancestry of his wife, the place where they lived and the place where he died. Information in articles should only be used as clues for further research.
Suggestions or queries? Contact Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or email frankiemeyer@ yahoo.com.