With an historical newspaper archiving spanning 1690-2016, it’s hard to comprehend why I ever let my subscription lapse. But I did. I think it was during a period of time when I wasn’t doing a lot of research, so didn’t see the need to have access to GenealogyBank’s 2 billion records.
Also, I’d forgotten the scope of records available, including
- historical newspapers
- current newspapers
- historical books
- historical documents
- Social Security Death Index
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever even delved into anything on the site other than newspapers, which is amazing, as I do a TON of work using historical books. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t renew my subscription. That just changed.
What Made Me Re-Subscribe to GenealogyBank?
If you’ve been on this site long, you’ll see that I frequently write about historical topics. I like being able to put my own family into some sense of context with their real world. Writing about the major historical events of a certain time period gives me a far better sense of my ancestor’s world. (In fact, you may have read one of my AncestorWorld articles like this one on Benjamin Franklin.)
What I enjoy doing even more is looking up historical texts about either my own ancestor or a person who lived during the same time period in a nearby locale. And to do that, I need to use either historical texts or historical newspapers. Without my subscription to GenealogyBank I was forced to look elsewhere for those historical records.
In a case study I wrote for one of my genealogy books, I tell the story of my search for a (non-ancestor) who is buried in the National Cemetery here in San Diego (Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery). His tombstone caught my eye because it said he had served in the Mexican War, Civil War and Indian Wars – so of course my curiosity sent me off to do research. And, some of the best information I found about my soldier was from GenealogyBank.
I honestly didn’t know how often I used this resource until I didn’t have it.
But as of February 13, 2017, I am once again a subscriber and likely to remain one as long as I do genealogy. (Does one ever stop doing genealogy?).
How Can You Best Use GenealogyBank?
While you and I may ever see our names in a newspaper, the same wasn’t necessarily true for our ancestors. Everyday happenings were “events”, such as the arrival of out-of-town relatives, the election of a judge, or an accident caused by a runaway wagon. All of these events ended up in local newspapers.
How I use GenealogyBank is by
- searching for an ancestor by name
- searching for events of a certain time in a certain place
- searching the front page news (this will give you a good sense of the issues your family was probably discussing)
- simply browsing through a local newspaper during the time an ancestor was living (hopefully you’ll find a newspaper local to your family)
I tend to say this all the time – so forgive me for being so repetitive – but knowing the events of an ancestor’s life will give you so much more insight into them than simply knowing the dates they lived.