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Newspapers << Teacher's Guide <<

| Objectives | Teacher | Main Idea No.1 | Main Idea No.2 |
| Go Online | Writing | Information | Vocabulary |
| Printable Version |

OBJECTIVES

IN THIS LESSON, YOU'LL

TEACHER

This lesson includes opportunities for class discussion and a video presentation. Vocabulary words are included at the end of the lesson, though not specifically brought into the lesson in the form of an assignment. Resulting measurable assignments are a creative writing newspaper entry and class discussion participation. While the lesson's main ideas logically build on one another, the activities and assignments suggested can be adapted or omitted according to your needs.

MAIN IDEA NO.1

EXTRA! EXTRA! GENEALOGY CLUES TO BE FOUND!

You are living in what's known as the "information age." Through television, cable, satellite, radio, and the Internet, you can get information on just about anything or anyone of interest.

One hundred and fifty years ago, one of the best methods of sharing information was through the newspaper. In The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,, James L. Hansen addresses the evolution of newspapers. Referring to the newspapers of the early 1800s, he writes:

"The early newspaper was very much a local product, designed to convey news of the wider world to the citizens of a particular community. Little attention was given to local news which everyone presumably knew already. Three nineteenth-century developments changed the newspaper dramatically: the invention of the power printing press, the development of the railroads (which allowed much wider distribution of a paper), and the increasing demand for news, particularly during the Civil War."

Mr. Hansen goes on to explain that major city dailies that could gather news with a telegraph and had more press power and train access began to dominate the delivery of international, national and state news. Smaller local papers were then forced to "concentrate on local news if they were to survive and prosper."

This meant that people leaving on vacation would publicize their plans in the paper. A bar mitzvah or a birthday party might be reported. It seems that no detail was too trivial to include, as long as it might be of interest to the locals.

VIEW ANCESTORS EPISODE 210: NEWSPAPERS AS RECORDS

Episode Description

Clues to family history can come from the most surprising places. Lori Davis was given a mysterious lead when a woman who had known one of her ancestors said, "Look in the San Francisco papers; she was in trouble with the law." Old newspaper stories detail the escapades of Lori's great-grandmother, a 1920s high society con woman. Experts add their advice on how to use newspapers to expand family history research.

Discussion Questions

  • What two pieces of information do you need to know in order to use newspapers in your family history search?
  • How can you find out if the town still exists or has only changed its name?
  • What is an obituary?
  • What kinds of information can usually be found in today's typical obituaries?

MAIN IDEA NO.2

CAN YOU BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ?

Information you find in newspapers, just as in any other record, can be incorrect. Family history detectives need to evaluate the information found in all sources. Just because you find a birth date for your great-grandmother in a newspaper obituary doesn't mean that the date listed is correct. You should always check for original records to compare the information.

In the Ancestors companion instructional guidebook entitled, A Guide to Discovery: Key Principles and Processes of Family History Research, author Jim Tyrrell suggests the following criteria when evaluating evidence.

Information you find is most believable when it is:

  • recorded by an eyewitness, meaning someone who had first-hand knowledge or experience with an event, relationship or some other matter in question.
  • preserved in its original format
  • preserved in a clear and certain way so that it is directly understood, such as "John Ballard married Mary Kee on 17 November 1789"
  • consistent with the presumed facts that are found in one or more other sources.

ACTIVITY

Look at a contemporary local newspaper. Ignore the advertisements and the articles about famous people and politicians and look for notices, announcements and quotes from ordinary, every day people. What types of information do you find? What facts are included, and how do you know they are believable? What facts could the reporter have better explained? What might he or she have left out?

Next, go to the library and look up old papers from the early 1900s. What differences do you notice between old newspapers and the papers of today?

GO ONLINE

http://www.CyndisList.com/newspapr.htm
Cyndi provides links to modern-day newspapers as well as columns on genealogy at CyndisList.com.

http://www.historybuff.com/primer.html
The Newspaper Collectors Society of America offers tips on what makes old newspapers valuable and how to collect them.

WRITING

Select a part of a newspaper, such as the obituary or social pages. Write an entry for a paper of today, and then the same information in an entry as it would have appeared in the early 1900s.

INFORMATION

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED AND . . .
Newspapers can be a valuable source of family history information. Though you may find many clues to your family history, detectives should be sure to evaluate the information and confirm it against original documents whenever possible.

. . . WHAT'S NEXT?
Though it may sound odd, your ancestor's death is a wonderful source of information on your family. Many ancestors wrote wills and the directions in the wills had to be legally carried out. This process generated a lot of paper that can add unique details to your ancestor's life and death.

VOCABULARY

Dailies: A term indicating that a newspaper is printed every day.

 
 
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-Teacher's Guide-

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of the Teacher's Guide

Episode Links

Introduction
Episode 201
Episode 202
Episode 203
Episode 204
Episode 205
Episode 206
Episode 207
Episode 208
Episode 209
Episode 210
Episode 211
Episode 212
Episode 213

 

     
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