Tuesday, March 21, 2017 Tip/Reminder for Finding Newspaper Dates and Page Numbers

One of my favorite digitized newspaper websites is the website which if you do not know is run by just one very competent man, Tom Tryniski. Though a little quirky, FultonHistory has digitized, searchable newspapers mostly for New York but there are some for Pennsylvania, a few other states and even Canada; and the site is free but you can donate to support the site. Seven years ago FultonHistory enabled me to track down an entire collateral branch of my family from the late 1700s up to the early 1900s.

At that time I guess I was more into the fun part of genealogy ... the researching and the chase for answers. I entered the names, information and some source information into my genealogy program at the time to keep track of things as I went but did not do the sourcing as we do nowadays. From just two probate ads (one of which I learned of from a mailing list post mentioning a familiar name) I ended up tracing all the descendants of ten of eleven children using the newspapers and other traditional genealogy records. Two additional probate ads found a year or so later on FultonHistory solved the eleventh child whose line I followed to modern day and all I had prior to work with was "married a southern woman and went south." (Remember always go back and re-do searches to see if something new has been added since your last visit.)

For the last year I have been slowly getting "past found" information into my current genealogy program with proper citation. One step of this process is making sure my digital files are named properly which for me means they follow a standard naming pattern  one that works for me.

And so I find myself now revisiting those hundreds of PDF files saved at the time of that great 2010 research adventure. Many of the files have most of the components of how I wish to name a newspaper page/clipping file but these components are not necessarily in the order I finally decided works best for me.
Newspapers with file names
not following my final newspaper name format of

That said, there are many that are missing the publication date and/or page number. Some of this missing information is due to me working too fast and not insuring I included it while sometimes the information is really missing from the saved page. Simply opening each file confirms each file's situation. In this case, it was about 50 percent my fault; 50 percent just not there. Honestly, I was not looking forward to figuring out publication dates and/or page numbers for those 50 percent not there files that I could not resolve just by opening the file.

If you have never taken a look at the help page for I strongly suggest you do. Besides an explanation of the site, there are a plethora of search tips to help you. One search tip in particular has helped me greatly with the task of revisiting my many PDF files to determine the publication date and page number. While Tom does have a video of how to do this, here is how I applied the tip to my task at hand.

Since I have a large number of files to go through, I opened FultonHistory in two browser tabs. The first browser tab is to re-locate the newspaper page(s) I'm working with by either searching for a single result or multiple results for a person. The second browser tab is to perform a second search to bring up all files for a specific newspaper/year(s) so that I can easily move to the page(s) earlier in an issue to locate the missing information.

A search to find back a specific search result.
For this example, in the first browser tab I did a search for "Harvey Marvin" 1845 and then looked for the result in the New York NY Tribune to find back the search result for a previously saved file. I thought of writing this post after I had worked on these files for a while so I do not have a screen capture of the file name from back in 2010. If I recall correctly the file name had a bunch of percent symbols in it but I could make out the paper name, a year and luckily I had added the person/subject to the end of the file name.

Now to do Tom's trick. He has named each newspaper page with a standardized wording and numbered each page sequentially starting with the first page of the first issue available for the year to the last page of the last issue available for each year. The standardized wording may indicate a specific year or range of years. Having done this it is possible for us to do a search for a specific paper and time period. But putting in a paper name and a specific year does not usually work on this site.
Copy the PDF file name for your search result match.

So for this example, I copy the PDF file name New York NY Tribune 1845 June - Oct Grayscale - 0085.pdf for the page result I sought.
Search 2 in the second browser window using the file name
in quotes but without the file number and file extension.
PDF files in sequential order.

Over in the second browser tab in the FultonHistory search query panel, I type a quote mark then paste the newspaper page file name just copied, delete the file number and file extension from the copied file name (0085.pdf) and then type a quote mark. Thus I end up with "New York NY Tribune 1845 June - Oct Grayscale - " in the query box. This is the standardized wording for this batch of newspaper pages. Then in the search options below the query box, I change Sort type from "hits" which I think is the default to "name" before clicking the search button. Doing this last step produces a results list in sequential order starting with the lowest number file and the newspaper pages in order of how they appeared from the beginning of the time period to the end of the time period covered.

After locating your page, easily move to earlier pages in the issue.
Now I locate the specific page file I want which if you remember was 0085. And as you can see in the image I can now easily select the prior page in that specific paper and learn the page I had saved was page two of that issue. You only have to move pages forward (or backward) far enough to where you can read the information (publication date or page number) and determine what would be your page's missing data.

If the article in your page result was continued on the next page, you simply copy the PDF file name to the search query box and change the file number to the next number, for example change 0085 to 0086 to easily get the following page.

With the missing information now found, I can then adjust my file name to include all the information I require for my newspaper page/clipping file names. Which is the publication date in numbers meaning Year Month Day so 1845 June 24 as 18450624 immediately followed by the newspaper name with an underscore p# underscore for the page number followed immediately by LastnameFirst or the subject of the article. So my revised file name is 18450625NewYorkTribune_p2_MarvinHarvey.pdf in this case and I now have details preserved for my source citation.

The revised file name with all information present.
Using the two browser tabs I think helps whether you are searching for the first time or trying to relocate previous finds. The first tab preserves your initial search results so you do not have to keep repeating the same search to move on in the results list while the second tab lets you take a moment to find that pesky missing information like page numbers.

There is an alternative method, manually finding the newspaper on a list and then scrolling thru pages of files to locate your page but I found those pages harder to read due to the type used on the graphics and on the subsequent pages with the file names. Thus this method seemed slower to use.

So do take some time to look over that help page because it can help. And do go back and repeat searches you have done in the past to see what has been added since. And, of course, try this tip.

Oh, those initial two probate ads I located that turned out to be a goldmine? I did that search again the other day and discovered a newspaper page added sometime in the last seven years which reported that probate was said to be the largest number of relatives to be cited in a single probate in the history of that county's probates. I believe it. And no there was not a great fortune to be had by those relatives. Supposedly it took just three years to get to the final settlement. Her uncle's probate (those other two probate ads I found about a year later) still was not settled at that time and he died about thirty years prior to her. And again there was no great fortune. Well, for them I mean because for me ... goldmine.

Hopefully you are not discounting those collateral relatives in your research, especially those with no direct (spouse or children) heirs, because they can be goldmines of information. 

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