Monday, November 2, 2015

Tuesday's Tip/Searching Startegy

     George Newton Bigelow Jr. lived in Palmyra, NY his entire life.  So why couldn't I find his obituary?  I tried searching with his middle name of Newton, tried with the middle initial N, and with just George Bigelow, all with no luck.  Finally I used the search terms --Palmyra NY, 1910 (the year of his death) and Bigelow.  The obituary came right up!  The problem was with the condition of the newspaper.  See below:

     The software couldn't read the darkened name George.  In another case, the name was on two lines and was hyphenated to Bige-low.  The software didn't catch that one either.  Often, if I'm not finding what I want and the database is for a smallish town, I search on a last or even a first name.  I've also found my person by limiting the search to only Irish born individuals and using no name.  Larger towns and databases can be searched this way with a date range; for instance, I found the death of Ellen Maher in Ohio by using just "Ellen", "Richland County" and her year of death.  She was mistakenly listed as Ellen "Marker".  I've found searching without a name particularly helpful with my Irish ancestors.  Officialdom had a great deal of difficulty with Irish surnames with which they were unfamiliar.  Some of the spellings were mind boggling.

     I've had success with newspapers, census records, death records and other databases using this method.  I wouldn't want to try a search of New York City or any other large metropolis using it, but it does have it's place.


  1. I've only recently begun utilizing the on-line newspaper resources out there. Not sure why I've waited so long to do so, but I have been having some success... luckily my newspapers have been in better condition though!

  2. Glad you've been having good luck with the newspapers, most of the ones I look at are in good shape, but some I've had to search creatively.

  3. I had honestly never thought of the possibility of a name being hyphenated! I love newspapers, but there certainly are plenty of challenges in searching them. Thanks for your tips.

  4. I never really thought about hyphenated names either, I just thought the search engine would recognize it. I thought wrong.