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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Old Newspapers - a Genealogy Cache

Did you know that births and deaths are scattered throughout newspapers and that a thorough search could take many long hours? Most regional libraries have access to the University of Georgia's microfilm collection of old Georgia newspapers. The Clayton County Regional Library, Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro, has its own microfilm collection of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution in the house. Their newspapers date back to late 1800's. The Atlanta Georgian (Atlanta Public Library, downtown Atlanta) was the first newspaper for this area and is a good source. But you must be prepared to stay awhile. One month could equal one or two reels, and a search is indicated before the event and several weeks after. The reason for this is that some of these articles were syndicated from other newspapers. It is a real job finding a death notice even when you know the exact date of death. But wait! I have already done this for you! Abstracts of obituaries dating from 1740 to ca 1933 is online to members of Georgia Pioneers. This collection includes all of the old surviving Georgia newspapers preserved by the University of Georgia, as well as some loose ones discovered by myself in old court houses. To make it easy, the abstracts are alphabetical and 2000 pages long. Genealogists search old newspapers to fill in the gap for non-existent or missing records. There are no Georgia census records for the years 1790, 1800, 1810 or 1890. Deaths did not start getting recorded until 1919. This is how old newspapers are a vital resource. Good luck!

Jeannette Holland Austin, author of over 100 genealogy books
Georgia Pioneers

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