Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tracing My Prince Edward Island Ancestors Through Newspapers:

Several generations of my father's family immigrated from Ireland to  Prince Edward Island, Canada before ultimately coming to the United States. One of my favorite web sites to research my ancestors is http://islandnewspapers.ca. It's a web site managed by the Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island. Newspapers are digitized back to the early 1800's through the early 1990's. My favorite newspaper to find obituaries and other articles is The Guardian. It contains a wealth of information, including information about current events going on at that time throughout the world.

Sadly the newspaper articles aren't indexed like other newspaper sites (think: Newspapers.com and GenealogyBank). I would love to help out on an indexing project for this site to help make a database available. Optical character recognition software was used to digitize the newspapers that is used through the search function. This site can be compared to Old Fulton Post Cards. You have to use different search terms to find articles that pertain to your family and not every reference will come up if a character was read differently by the OCR software.

Some tips for using IslandNewspapers:

1. Don't rely on asterisks for wild card searches - due to the OCR you may be drastically reducing your search

2. Try different spelling variations for surnames

3. Not all women are recorded with their first name. You may have to use variations of the following "Mrs Bernard Rooney, "Mrs Rooney", "Miss Rooney" to pull up possible articles

4. Browse newspaper editions around the time of the event you're researching to see if you can find articles pertaining to that event. Obituaries were recorded weeks, sometimes months after the time of death (particularly if the person died overseas).

5. Use the year filters on the left hand side to narrow down your searches based on when your ancestor lived.

6. Search using the towns your ancestors lived in along with the surname. It will help bring up other possible ancestors living in the same area.

7. Don't discount smaller articles - there's a wealth of information about people that lived on Prince Edward Island. Newspapers were akin to our social media today for keeping in touch on what everyone is doing and where they are going.

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