I've often benefited from the content in old newspapers, but have been less than enthusiastic about combing through poor-quality microfilm or difficult to navigate web sites. In truth, it is almost always a painful experience, but one that I endure because the payoff — an obituary or other article of interest — breathes life and adds context to my research subjects.
Recently I learned about NewsinHistory.com
, a digitized collection of more then 1,100 newspapers spanning two centuries. I arranged for a trial subscription and determined to test it with one of my more difficult subjects, Edwin S. Likens
, a Civil War veteran who has proved hard to track.
Civil War military service records list two men named Edward S. Likens who wore Union blue: One who served in two New York regiments, and another who served in two Pennsylvania regiments. But a search of other sources suggest only one man, a Philadelphia native, with this name. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to solve this history mystery, I reluctantly moved his file to the bottom of the priority list.
After my NewsinHistory.com user name and password arrived, I entered the name Likens in the search box. The results included an article in the March 12, 1863, edition of the Philadelphia Public Ledger
announcing the marriage of Lieut. Edwin S. Likens to Josephine Ophelia Dodd. This article is the missing link to my research, for it connects Likens the Pennsylvania officer to the New York Likens whose widow, Josephine O. Likens, filed for a government pension after her husband's death.
Mysery solved! Thank you NewsinHistory.
The site's strength, aside from the number of newspapers and search capability, is the functionality that makes it easy to pan and zoom, scroll, flip and scan pages. The yellow keyword search highlights are also a plus. Reminds me of Google Books and Amazon. (I am a fan of both sites.)
Two minor changes would improve the site experience:
- Add the name of the publication and date to the pdf download, a detail offered by the New York Times on its archived articles.
- Move the search bar to the top of the home page and all the results pages. The strength of this site is the search, and yet it seems to be hidden in the design.
Overall, NewsinHistory gets a big thumbs up. I plan to add it to my research tool kit, and recommend it to any individual or institution involved in genealogical and other historical studies.
Labels: archive, article, civil war, genealogy, history, news, newsbank, newsinhistory, newspaper, newspapers, research