One of the great resources for family historians is local newspapers. These can be used to search for obituaries, accidents, lawsuits, scandals, delinquent taxpayer lists, land sales, marriages, births, environmental tragedies and other news stories which may mention an ancestor or relative. One of the main drawbacks, however, is that the researcher has to know the date of an event in order to search through microfilmed newspapers.
The program “Chronicling America” changes the way we can search newspapers. An online undertaking created by the Library of Congress, Chronicling America aims to provide to the public access to digitized and searchable historic newspapers. Chronicling America “is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC), is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of US. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages,” states the Library of Congress web page.
To access the newspaper databases at Chronicling America, go to chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. These databases include a broad range of newspapers printed between the years 1836 and 1922. On the “Search Pages” tab, you can search all titles, or just titles in a particular state for a particular range of years by using a surname or keyword. On the “All Digitized Newspapers, 1836-1922” tab, you can get a list, by state, of all of the publications in the collection. On the “US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present” tab, you can get to an alphabetical listing of a “directory of newspapers published in the United States since 1690 [that] can help identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them … Titles currently listed: 140,115.”
This is definitely a web site worth exploring.
The time for the release of the 1940 federal census is rapidly approaching. This census will be unsealed for public use by the National Archives in April 2012, without an index. However, three of the leading genealogy companies, Archives.com, FamilySearch.com, and
findmypast.com, recently announced that they are joining together to establish the “1940 U.S. Census Community Project.”
According to a recent FamilySearch press release, “the ambitious project aims to engage online volunteers to quickly publish a searchable, high quality name index to the 1940 U.S. Census. … The highly anticipated 1940 U.S. Census is expected to be the most popular U.S. record collection released to date. Its completion will allow anyone to search the record collection by name for free online. … The goal of the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project is to create a high quality index online linked to the complete set of census images as soon as possible. The index will allow the public to easily search every person found in the census and view digital images of the original census pages. The collection will be available online for free to the general public at Archives.com, FamilySearch.org, and findmypast.com, the sponsors of the community project. … The 1940 U.S. Census Community Project is also receiving additional support from leading societal organizations like the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society and Ohio Genealogical Society.”
The National Archives estimates that the 1940 census contains 130 million names. To learn more about the project or to volunteer, visit www.the1940census.com.