Monday, June 29, 2009

In Sweden his name was Lars Fredrik Pettersson - but he changed the spelling of his name in the US. What do I do now?

A: It is common for immigrants coming from other heritages to standardize the spelling of their names.

In this case: Lars Fredrik Pettersson .... you will want to search indexes for all of the spelling options for his name.

Fredrik: Could be spelled Frederick or even the short form: Fred
Pettersson: Could be spelled several ways: Petterson; Peterson; Pederson; Petersen; etc.

His complete name might have been written as:
L.F. Peterson
Lars F. Peterson
Lars Peterson
Frederick Peterson
Fred Peterson
Fred L. Peterson

Genealogists learn through trial and error the various ways that individuals and record keepers might have spelled their names.

Keep this in mind when you search newspapers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How can I find more information on my grandfather?

A: First I need more background information on the family.

Hi Tom,
Thanks for getting back with me. I know this is a tough one because we are talking civil war days and OK Indian Territory.

My grandfather Frank Elijah Jackson was born in Sherman TX in 1865 to a Chickasaw women by the name of Lydia Love (maiden name) or Jackson (married name). He died in 1953 or 4 in Los Angeles, CA this I'm sure of.

I spoke with archives in Austin TX no birth record of him. He worked for the Santa Fe railroad in Topeka Kansas how long I don't know. He had to have a ssn# to work I would guess and if so he had to have a birth certificate.

I'm trying to establish our Indian heritage, and to find out his father's background who was Calvin Jackson believed to be an Irishman. Another name that is tied in is Calvin Jackson Grant born 1861 in Sherman, TX. They both resided in Berwyn, OK when it was a territory which is prior to 1906. Any suggestions would surely be appreciated.


Several quick points Frank.
1. California records show a Frank Elijah Jackson - born 23 Feb 1866 in Texas who died in Los Angeles, CA on 9 Jun 1953. I'd suggest that you write to the California Office of Vital Statistics for a copy of his death certificate to confirm that this is your grandfather. That should give you more details on his father.

2. Social Security Number. Today when you register for a Social Security number you need proof of your identity and your birth certificate. When the Social Security program was organized in the 1930s the process was much more informal. People simply registered. The requirement for people to show a birth certificate and other documentation when they got a job is also a recent requirement. Nothing like that was required in the 1800s when he was working for the railroad. Railroad workers also came under a separate "social" program to protect them in their retirement years - the Railroad Retirement Benefits program was actually created the year before the Social Security Administration. An index to the deaths of individuals in the Railroad benefits program is also included in the Social Security Death Index. While the SSDI has death records back to 1937 - the coverage in the Department's index becomes increasingly more comprehensive after 1962 - because that is when the Department began to computerize its index.

3. It's not uncommon for State vital records offices to not have 19th Century birth certificates. So - you need to build your family history from multiple sources. For example - the 1925 Kansas State Census shows his family living in Shawnee, Kansas - and according to that census he was born in Texas and had moved to Kansas from Oklahoma.

4. A search of the 1870 census does show Calvin Jackson Grant born 1861 living in Sherman TX - but no mention of Frank Elijah Jackson.

5. Jackson is a common name. I'd suggest that you continue to look through the state and Federal census records. In the later census years it gives the place of birth of the parents. That should give you a good clue if his father - Calvin Jackson - was born in Ireland.

Frank - I will continue to look into this for you and let you know what else I find for you.


Friday, June 19, 2009

How do I find articles on Blacks in GenealogyBank?

A: Interesting question. You will need to use specific names and keyword search terms associated with Blacks over the past 300 years.

Search for specific individuals by name like "Martin Luther King". Click here to read the Dallas Morning News 5 April 1968 when he was killed.

TIP: Put names in quotes - "Martin Luther King" - so that your search will focus in on just articles where the person you are searching for is mentioned.

When former slave John Wiley died in 1918 it was a banner headline and a front page story in the Belleville News Democrat (20 May 1918). Click here to read the article.

You should also use keyword search terms that were used over the past 300 years. For example terms like: slave, slavery, African-American, NAACP, AME Church; and Civil Rights Movement will generate millions of hits in GenealogyBank.

You will then want to narrow down your search results by state, specific newspaper or by date range.

Please let me know if this answers your question.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm wondering how you choose which newspapers to add to the collection? I would like to see more coverage for Idaho. How do I request them?

A: John, yes we welcome your suggestions for more newspapers that you would like to see added to - please send all of your newspaper suggestions to us at

GenealogyBank's parent company - NewsBank - works closely with newspapers and archives across the country partnering with them to provide the online newspapers that you see in GenealogyBank.

GenealogyBank currently has more than 3,800 newspapers from all 50 States from 1690 to Today online. We have contracts for thousands of newspapers that are in various stages of production waiting their turn to go online.

Juggling that many titles can be impacted by special opportunities like adding over 360 Hispanic Newspapers from 1808 to 1980; or the discovery of new resources that need to be digitized to protect them from further deterioration.

Each month we usually add more issues from 50 newspapers - often over 4 million additional articles every month.

Please keep sending in your suggestions - we will try to quickly respond to the research interests of our members.

John, please let me know if this answers your question.

Why aren’t the date ranges listed for each newspaper?

A: Jennie - we do list the date ranges for all of the 3,800+ newspapers in GenealogyBank. Here's how you can see the date range for all of our newspapers:

1. Click on the "Title List" for the newspapers
2. Click on the State where the newspaper was published to find the titles and date ranges for your search area of interest.
Let me know if this answers your question.

All the best,

What was added for the Philadelphia Public Ledger? I don’t seem to see anything new.

A: We added 270 more back issues of the Public Ledger in May.
It is easy to search ONLY the 270 issues that were added in May 2009.

To search only the 270 back issues that were added to the Public Ledger do the following:
Tip: We have set-up a search page for each of the thousands of newspapers on GenealogyBank.

1. Go to the Public Ledger search page. Click here to go to that page.

2. Then narrow your search to the most recent content added - the 270 back issues added in May 2009. See image below:
3. Use the drop down menu and select May 2009

4. Now that you have narrowed your search - Enter your search terms and Begin searching.

Let me know if this answers your question.

All the best,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Is this newspaper listed in the right city?

I am doing research in the 1850s and noticed that you have the Daily Globe newspaper listed in the wrong city. The Daily Globe was published in San Francisco, not Washington DC as your hit results indicate. Thought you might want to know.

A: Actually - these are two different newspapers - both with the same name, published in two different cities on opposite ends of the country. GenealogyBank has both of them.

Click Here to Search the Daily Globe (San Francisco, CA)
Click Here to Search The Daily Globe (Washington, DC)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can I search with the dates in order? In other words, oldest first, etc. - Nancy

A: Yes. Look at the illustration below. Use the drop down menu to select the order that you want your search results to be displayed.

You can display them starting with the oldest or the newest articles first.