Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Winter 2015 is going to be one to remember. Even in Florida, the temperatures are below normal with wind making it feel even colder. But no one is complaining!  When I docent at the Anna Maria Historical Society, I mention the weather, and the response always is, “It’s not as cold as back home.” 

I enjoy sharing information with visitors on the early history of the island.  I tell them how in the mid-1800s George Emerson Bean came from Eastern Connecticut to the Tampa Bay region, and then by boat across the bay to this seven mile island.  Mr. Bean received a 160 acre land grant, so he brought his family to the island in 1893 as the first settlers. He lived only another four years, so his son carried on with the development of the Island. He hooked up with Charles Roser who came to the island in the early 1900s with the million dollars he was paid for his Fig Newton recipe.

The famous Anna Maria City Pier, built in 1911, brought day trippers from Tampa to the Island for a day at the beach.

A bridge from the mainland was built in early 1920s, bringing more people, businesses, and then residents.

I tell people that as a child riding with my parents we would drive by Spring Lake located in the middle of the island and how I wondered how that could be.  Now houses and mangroves crowd around the lake, so visitors have no idea it is there.

Visitors are interested to learn there was a small airport on the island, built to bring in the Hollywood actors (including Peter Lawford and Esther Williams) and film crews to make the film, On An Island With You.

What brings the men in is the historical society’s exhibit on the Boys of Summer.  A number of baseball players from various teams had small homes on the Island.  My family’s snowbird duplex was located across the road from the family of Cincinnati Reds’ manager Fred Hutchinson. 

The historical society has interns working on archiving their collection. There are renovation plans in the works so that more of the collection can be exhibited. In the meantime, the collection is being put online for easy access.

The AMIHS board and docents are to be commended for their hard work in keeping the history of this island available.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Archived Newspapers – Part II

Drew Smith, in his presentation to the Manatee Genealogical Society, shared key newspaper date information, free online sites as well as a couple of paid sites.

Key dates.  The earliest American newspaper published was in 1690, with the first daily in 1784. The most important date to remember is 1922, which is the latest date where newspaper articles are in the public domain. First “born digital” date is 1970s, with some not digitized until 1990s.  That means earlier issues have been digitized using OCR. OCR accuracy is about 70% correct.  This impacts spelling of names. Beware.

Blame Mickey Mouse.  According to Mr. Smith, the reason later newspaper articles are not in the public domain is because Disney and other Hollywood movie producers have provided incentive to congress so that copyrights to movies are not lost.  To me, it seems like common sense could be applied.  Movie companies, publishers, etc. could request to be grandfathered in for certain productions/products, and then the date for public domain use could be pushed further into the future.

Chronicling America, the Library of Congress is a great resource.  The site lists over 150,000 titles and identifies those that are digitized.  Remember the 1922 date. 

Newspapers changed name with mergers, sometimes combining the names so subscribers are not lost.  Keep an eye out for combinations.  Not all issues are available.  Learn how to use the site before jumping in.

Google Newspaper Archive has papers from 1700s-2009. You can also search Google by putting variation of Site: [your search term/s] Can even search year range using this option. Don’t have to remember the 1922 date for Google, guess they are big enough they aren’t worried!

Fulton History is one of our personal favorites, though Mr. Smith feels this site is a little “weird” to use.  He prefers to access Fulton History through Google using Site: Fultonhistory.com [your search term]  As mentioned in previous posts, Fulton History is a one-man show that has digitized as of this date (2/4/2015) 29,140,000 newspaper articles from the U.S. and Canada, at a fraction of the cost of the Library of Congress!  Fulton History began as the go-to site for Upstate New York ancestor research, but soon papers from the New York City/Hudson Valley area were available.  He has expanded to other states and Canada.

Paid Sites: Genealogy Bank (personal subscription $19.95/month-$69.95/annual) Over 7,000 titles 1690-present.  (OCR)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers can be accessed through local library subscription. This stie has major U.S. cities, African-American papers and Jewish newspapers. (OCR)

Beware of NewspaperARCHIVE.com (personal subscription $72). Mr. Smith has heard some complaints about this site.  (OCR)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Searching Archived Newspapers

“Front Page News (and Beyond): Finding Archived Newspapers” was the topic presented by Drew Smith at today’s Manatee Genealogical Society Meeting. 

Most genealogists are aware of the value provided by historical newspapers.  Obituaries come first to mind, but historical newspapers have so much more.  Birth and marriage announcements were in print long before vital records were mandated.

The “Facebook of their time” was how Mr. Smith described historical newspapers.  Social columns, business news, political, religious, school and organizational news, crimes, and lawsuits were written about. People learned what was happening in the community from their newspapers. During the 1800s some rural newspapers listed the names of people who had mail waiting at the post office.

Even ads can provide substance to your family history.  Take time to peruse them to learn about the latest fashion, merchandise, and how much items cost.

Be mindful of your ancestors’ geographic location. If they lived near a state or county line, their news might appear in a paper of the other county or state.

Drew Smith’s presentation was chock full of information. In a future post I will share more of what I learned today. 

I wish every speaker was as concise, knowledgeable and entertaining as Drew Smith.