If you've ever read historical, local newspapers, you know what a wealth of local information they are. Comparing them to what you find in today's papers, local papers back in the 1800s and 1900s read more like a diary. There were musings on comings and goings to the town, people's vacations, local activities, what was happening on "main street." It's great!

Whenever I run a search, I'm so excited an hopeful that I might find a snippet of a snapshot into one of my ancestors lives. Even if it's a somewhat unsavory snapshot like this one:

Thursday, June 28, 1934 -- Dallas Morning News

My great aunt Vivian was quite a woman; an amazing woman actually. Her life -- from what I know of it -- reads like a harlequin-esque novel. Suffice it to say, she worked with what she had and in the end made quite a life for herself (and never spent one night in jail, to my knowledge!).

After finding this exciting tidbit about great aunt Vivian, not surprisingly, I continue to search every digital newspaper repository that I can find. But so far, to no real avail. Part of the problem is likely the OCR quality of these older papers. So how do you get around this problem? Fellow genealogy blogger Kenneth Hunt over at The Ancestor Blog has some fantastic research tips!

In his post The ONE Absolute BEST Way to Find More Ancestor Articles in Historic Newspapers Online he suggests using the following substitutions in your search of newspaper repositories:
  • rn  ->  m (ar n ->  em)
  • h  ->  b
  • h  ->  n
  • Capital D  ->  O
  • i, l, 1, /, !,  ->   I [are all often interchanged]
  • 0   ->  O
  • c   ->   e   ->  o
  • r  ->  n
  • [, ]  ->  l (el)
  • nl   ->   m (en el  ->  em)
  • R  ->  B
  • n  ->  ri (en  ->  ar eye)
  • v   ->   y 
  • S   ->  8
  • S   ->  5
  • Z   ->  2
  • G  ->  6
  • G   ->  O
  • B   ->  8
  • K   ->   |<
  • Y   ->  V
  • ss   -> p [My own suggested substitution because ss was written in cursive like a p in the 1800s]
He has some other great tips, so be sure to go over and read the entire post.

Using these substitutions my family names would be written this way:

Family Name Rewritten
Herndon Hemdori
Cross Crop
Baines 8a1ries
Baynes 8ayries
Rollins Bo11iris
Griffin 6n1ff1ri
Hurdle Hund1e
Reddick Bedd1ek
Fayton Faytori
Lucas Luoas
Lanier Lari1en

And of course, all of the various permutations of correct letters and incorrect letters....*sigh*. That's a lot of options. But worth a try!


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