Biographical Sketches in Newspapers

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Using Newspapers in Family History

This article is part of a series.
Overview of Newspapers in Family History
List of Genealogical Information in Newspapers
Vital Statistics in Newspapers
Local News
Biographical Sketches in Newspapers
Legal Notices in Newspapers
Public Announcements and Advertisements
Immigration Information in Newspapers
Slave Information in Newspapers
Reunion Information in Newspapers
How to Find Newspapers
Searching Newspapers
Religious Newspapers
Ethnic and Foreign-Language Newspapers
List of Useful Newspaper Resources

This article originally appeared in "Newspapers" by Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, and James L. Hansen, FASG in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

Newspapers carry biographical sketches in a variety of guises'birthday announcements, testimonials, feature articles, and other items. Sometimes these items are indexed; sometimes they can only be found by searching page by page.

Membership lists, printed minutes, and summaries of events for fraternal organizations, benevolent associations, lists of retirees, political groups, musicians, firemen, and policemen are common. You will sometimes be able to find group photographs.

Proud of their local heroes, newspapers often recounted the accomplishments of community citizens.

A good example can be found in the Brooklyn Standard Union of 30 September 1931. This clipping is an example of the work done by volunteers who posted it to the Brooklyn Information page:

Police Forget Roll-Call But Save Baby Girl's Life
Work Over Child for 90 Minutes in Greenpoint Station House
A frantic fight to save the life of Anna Gillinos, eleven months, lying still from convulsions on a table in the reserve room of the Greenpoint station house, ended successfully after 90 minutes work early today. The child's whimpering cry came after four policeman had worked for an hour and a half over her limp body, using every known means of artificial respiration.
As she stirred Lieutenant John Shattuck turned to the men around him, and said, 'That is the most welcome cry in this station house since it was built.'
His associates, who had dropped everything else to stand watch over the child, said nothing, but there faces were stained with tears, for (?) since the child's mother, Mrs. Anna Gillinos of 2357 23rd street, Astoria, had rushed into the station house at 7 o'clock, crying, 'My baby's dead, my baby's dead.' They had even forgotten the 8 o'clock roll call and the daily turn out of men to help her. A few seconds after she had arrived Ambulance Surgeon Regan of Greenpoint Hospital was on hand to help.


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