Tales of Heroism from a Forgotten Tragedy: The General Slocum Disaster

Same-day front page about the General Slocum disasterSame-day front page about the General Slocum disaster 15 Jun 1904, Wed The Evening World (New York, New York) Newspapers.com


While the PS General Slocum isn’t well remembered today, the burning of this passenger ship in 1904 with the loss of approximately 1,000 lives was New York’s deadliest disaster prior to 9/11, and it remains one of the worst disasters on a US waterway.

So it’s no surprise that the General Slocum tragedy was major national news when it occurred, making headlines in papers from coast to coast. But along with the big headlines emphasizing the truly tragic nature of the disaster, another kind of newspaper coverage also appeared—stories of awe-inspiring heroism from that heartbreaking day. A search of the historical papers on Newspapers.com™ reveals many of them.

The Disaster

On the morning of June 15, 1904, nearly 1,400 passengers from St. Mark’s German Lutheran Church boarded the paddlewheel steamer General Slocum. The excursion vessel had been chartered to take the group—almost all of them women and children—from Manhattan to picnic grounds on Long Island. But after the steamer was underway in the East River, a fire began in the forward cabin that quickly consumed the ship.

The captain beached the burning vessel on North Brother Island, but the stern of the ship, where most of the passengers had been forced by the fire, was left in 10 to 30 feet of water. Though there were life preservers and lifeboats aboard, poor maintenance and neglect had made many of them useless. So passengers had little choice but to jump overboard without them to escape the flames—despite many not knowing how to swim.

Weighed down by their heavy clothing and struggling against a strong tide, 400 to 600 passengers drowned after the ship was beached. Though estimates vary, a government commission’s investigation into the disaster reported 955 passenger deaths—or about 70 percent.

Mary McCann’s Story of Courage

Mary McCann (1909)Mary McCann 26 Mar 1909, Fri Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Newspapers.com


As soon as the fire became visible beyond the ship, bystanders from nearby boats and on shore rushed to aid the stricken steamer.

One rescuer story that got extensive newspaper coverage was that of teenager Mary McCann, a recent immigrant from Ireland who was recuperating from an illness at the isolation hospital on North Brother Island.

When the General Slocum came aground on the island, Mary ran to the shore and swam out time after time to pull as many children as she could to safety. Reports of the number she saved range from 6 to 20, depending on the newspaper account.

Though Mary’s story was written about in newspapers immediately following the disaster, she gained further admiration after her testimony at the coroner’s inquest a little over a week later. She appeared again in newspapers nationwide 5 years afterward, when she was awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal in 1909 for her rescue efforts.

Other Tales of Heroism

But far more stories of bravery from the General Slocum disaster appeared in newspapers besides Mary McCann’s.

The New York Times wrote about the staff at the North Brother Island hospital, who immediately rushed to aid the beached ship. They not only pulled people from the water using ladders and human chains, but also resuscitated victims and provided medical care. The New-York Tribune described a story similar to Mary’s, in which a hospital employee named Pauline Puetz swam out multiple times to pull victims ashore, even rescuing a child who had been caught in the ship’s paddlewheel.

Rescuers on nearby vessels, from rowboats to tugboats, got newspaper coverage as well for saving lives. Henry George, for instance, saved four people from the water in a rowboat that had only one oarlock and was filling with water. He then returned to rescue others from beneath the side of the ship despite the risk of being caught under the listing vessel. The crew of the tugboat John L. Wade, which arrived within minutes of the General Slocum being beached, took their vessel so near the burning ship to rescue passengers that it caught fire itself.

Henry GeorgeHenry George 16 Jan 1910, Sun The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) Newspapers.com


Papers also included accounts of the heroism that occurred on the General Slocum itself. The New York Evening World wrote about 12-year-old Louise Galing, who jumped into the water with the toddler she was babysitting and managed to keep ahold of the child until they were pulled from the water. The World also recounted that when young Ida Wousky would have fainted, 13-year-old John Tishner kicked his friend in the shins to wake her up. John then managed to find a life preserver and put it on Ida, pushing her into the water when she wouldn’t jump. He held onto her by her hair until they were rescued by a boat.

After the Catastrophe

The stories of courage from that tragic day are numerous. Brooklyn’s Standard Union reported that six months after the disaster, the US Volunteer Lifesaving Corps awarded 250 people for their bravery. And those medals were well deserved: The government commission into the tragedy concluded that bystanders were responsible for saving 200 to 350 lives, and that without their aid possibly only 70 of the approximately 1,400 people aboard would have survived.

A century after the tragedy, in 2004, the last remaining survivor, Adella Liebenow Wotherspoon, passed away at age 100. Though her death marked the end of living memory of the disaster, the stories of the passengers and heroes of that day live on in the pages of historical newspapers.

Read more news coverage of the General Slocum disaster on Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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June 10, 1942: The Lidice Massacre

The village of Lidice was located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) during WWII. In reprisal for the assassination of a Nazi official in the Spring of 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered the assassination of all men in Lidice, aged 16 and older. The women and children were taken to concentration camps or gassed, and the village of Lidice was destroyed.

The Age – June 15, 1942

In 1939, the area around Lidice came under Nazi control. Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German official, was appointed Deputy Reich Protector of the area. Heydrich was one of the principal architects of the Holocaust. He was known for brutality, murder, and efforts to destroy any Nazi resistance. On May 27, 1942, Heydrich was being driven to his headquarters at Prague Castle when his car was attacked by two Czechoslovak resistance operatives. The operatives were trained in Great Britain and operated under the approval of the Czechoslovak government. Heydrich was wounded and died less than a week later.

The Shreveport Journal – June 6, 1942

German officials declared a state of emergency and established a curfew in Prague. They began a massive search for the attackers, promising that anyone involved, and their families, would be executed. Days later, when they failed to locate any conspirators, they decided to destroy the village of Lidice in reprisal. They chose Lidice because its residents were suspected of harboring members of the local resistance.

On June 10, 1942, German police and SS officials surrounded Lidice to block off any escape route. They rounded up 192 boys and men from Lidice and marched them to a farm on the edge of town, where they lined them up and shot them in groups.

Nazi officials separated the women and children and loaded the women onto rails cars for transport to concentration camps. Most went to Ravensbrück, where 60 died. A few of the children considered racially pure were handed over to SS families. The rest were likely killed in late June when Nazi official Adolph Eichman ordered the children to be gassed to death at Chelmno extermination camp.

In all, some 340 people from Lidice died and the town was destroyed. Nazi officials shelled the village, set it on fire, and plowed over the remains. To further erase the memory of Lidice, the name of the village was removed from all local municipal records. The massacre in Lidice angered people from around the world and garnered Allied support for the war. In the years following the war, those found complicit in the Lidice massacre were prosecuted. If you would like to learn more about the tragic story of Lidice, search Newspapers.com™ today.

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New Iconic UK News Brands Added!

We are pleased to announce that our international collection is expanding! We’ve added the Evening Standard and The Independent to our archives. With issues dating back to 1939, these new brands have chronicled a fascinating time in history.

The Evening Standard contains more than 2 million pages of history, with issues in our archive dating back to 1939. The Standard and Evening Standard have enjoyed an uninterrupted run from 1827 to the present day, except for a 26-day strike by machinery maintenance men in March and April 1955. The paper provides a unique perspective to world events, balancing coverage of international events with reports from correspondents placed all over Europe, America, and the Commonwealth. Founded in 1827, The Standard quickly developed a reputation for criticizing the government and found kinship with the common Londoner. The paper has chronicled important events fearlessly. In the days leading up to WWII, the paper’s political cartoonist, David Low, chronicled the rise of fascism with unflattering depictions of Hitler and Mussolini, which led to Germany and Italy banning the paper. The UK declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939, and that same month, The Standard reported that dozens of children fled London and sought refuge in Highclere Castle (made famous by the television series Downton Abbey). The castle became home to some 40 children during the war. They wore matching pink overalls and occupied the top floor.

The Standard also covered the Blitz, a series of massive German air attacks against London during the Battle of Britain. For 57 days, London was hit with heavy bombing that forever changed the cityscape. Some unexploded bombs were discovered long after the war ended. By the time the UK celebrated V-E Day in May 1945, nearly a half million people from the UK died during the war. The Evening Standard reported on efforts to rebuild post-war London. The paper is known as the “voice of London,” and in this archive, you will also find headlines about important world events, stories on the Royal Family, a high society gossip column called the Londoner’s Diary, fashion and women’s sections, and news relating to everyday Londoners.

The Independent was launched in 1986 with its mission to challenge and debate ahead of its time. It was a printed paper until 2016, when it changed to a fully digital news brand. Affectionately known as the Indy, its emphasis on clean, fresh design and beautiful photography helped to make it immediately distinctive. In addition to a strong aesthetic, The Independent has consistently innovated and inspired with its courageous, independent voice evident throughout its editorial – from politics, business, and climate stories to opinion on sports, social issues, and the arts.

Over its 35 years, The Independent has covered every issue of the day – from the devastating to the entertaining. On July 6, 2005, the UK was in the midst of celebrating its successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. This triumph turned to terror when on the following day, a series of coordinated bombings on the London Underground rocked the city. The Independent’s coverage of the terrorist attacks included many first-hand accounts of the carnage and rescue efforts.

Readers of The Independent will also find more light-hearted stories, such as when the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council invited the public to name its new arctic explorer research vessel. A former BBC radio presenter suggested the name Boaty McBoatface and the campaign quickly went viral. Despite a majority voting for Boaty McBoatface, the vessel was eventually named after broadcaster and natural scientist, Sir David Attenborough.

To explore these new titles and other papers in England, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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6 of the “Best Wartime Recipes” Shared during World War II

28 May 1943, Fri Oklahoma City Advertiser (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) Newspapers.com


In late 1941, food columnist Mary Moore invited readers of Canada’s Windsor Star to send in their favorite recipes to be featured in her new weekly “Best Wartime Recipes” column.

“Star cooks! Amateur cooks need your help. Send in those recipes that you are hoarding against your lean days—share your depression or wartime ideas with all of us.”

Because Canada faced food rationing and shortages during World War II, the recipes published in Moore’s column reflected wartime food restrictions—such as the rationing of sugar, tea, coffee, butter, and meat. Still, Moore asked that the submitted recipes be not only economical but flavorful as well, and she tested many of them herself to ensure they were.

Her wartime recipe column ran from October 1941 until May 1945, when Moore replaced it with one about dinner preparation for novice home cooks. She would continue as a food columnist until her death in 1978. Having gotten her start in the late 1920s writing for the Edmonton Journal (which ran her wartime recipe column as well), Moore’s newspaper career lasted an astonishing 50 years and ultimately saw widespread syndication in papers across Canada.

Interested in these wartime recipes? Here are 6 intriguing dishes selected from the 100+ published in Mary Moore’s column over the course of the war—all found on Newspapers.com! Click any of the recipes to see it in the original newspaper.

1. Applesauce Cake (October 1941)

Best Wartime Recipe: Applesauce CakeBest Wartime Recipe: Applesauce Cake 25 Oct 1941, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


2. Hot Red Cross (November 1941)

Best Wartime Recipe: Hot Red CrossBest Wartime Recipe: Hot Red Cross 01 Nov 1941, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


3. Bacon Substitute (February 1942)

Best Wartime Recipe: Bacon SubstituteBest Wartime Recipe: Bacon Substitute 14 Feb 1942, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


4. Jelly Roll (April 1943)

Best Wartime Recipe: Jelly RollBest Wartime Recipe: Jelly Roll 10 Apr 1943, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


5. New Idea Beef Loaf (November 1943)

Best Wartime Recipe: New Idea Beef LoafBest Wartime Recipe: New Idea Beef Loaf 27 Nov 1943, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


6. Molasses Cookies (April 1945)

Best Wartime Recipe: Molasses CookiesBest Wartime Recipe: Molasses Cookies 21 Apr 1945, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


Find more of these wartime recipes on Newspapers.com™. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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The ABCs of Old Time Occupations

Have you come across an occupation in a census record that you’ve never heard of before? Many of our ancestors held jobs that are rare or no longer exist today. We’ve scoured our archives to learn more about those jobs and what our ancestors did to earn a living. Here are a few of the occupations we found:

AArtificial Flower Maker: This intricate job required long hours and a lot of skill. The detailed artificial flowers embellished bonnets, dresses, and hats.


BBath Attendant: In the early 20th century, school children in cities like New York and Chicago were bathed at school. Often the children came from tenements with no access to washing facilities. This 1909 article invited women to apply for the position and described the qualifications needed to become a bath attendant.

CCorset Factory Worker: Factories became common during the Industrial Revolution. In this 1910 help wanted ad, a corset factory was hiring women between the ages of 16-40 to work in the factory.


DDaguerreotypist: A daguerreotypist was an early photographer who used a now-obsolete process to create images on a silvered copper surface. In this 1846 article, a traveling daguerreotypist offered to create miniature likenesses in Joliet, Illinois.

EEsquire: Today the term esquire describes a lawyer, but that wasn’t always the case. If your 19th-century ancestor was an esquire, it meant that he held a title of office, such as a lawyer, sheriff, justice of the peace, etc.


FFellmongers: A fellmonger is a person who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for making leather.


GGlazier: A glazier cut, installed, and removed glass in windows, display cases, and more.

HHokey-Pokey Man: The Hokey-Pokey man was a vendor with a pushcart that sold cheap, low-quality ice cream in the late 1800s through early 1900s. The Hokey-Pokey man was popular with children in tenement neighborhoods. In this 1910 article, a San Francisco Hokey-Pokey man found out he would likely inherit a fortune.

IIce Cutter: Before refrigeration was invented, ice cutters went to lakes and rivers during the winter and cut out blocks of ice for use in the summer. Workers transported ice to ice houses where it was kept cold with straw or sawdust. It would stay frozen for many months.

JJapanner: Japanned leather was a process to coat leather with a Japanese varnish and then dry it on a stove, producing a smooth, shiny surface like patent leather.


KKnocker-Upper: A knocker-upper was the equivalent of a human alarm clock. They roamed the streets with a tall wand used to tap on windows to awaken workers in the morning.


LLeech Collector: Leech collectors, often women, gathered leeches for medicinal use. Doctors believed that bloodletting could cure disease, so leeches were placed on patients to suck infected blood out. The practice was especially popular in Europe. 


MMillwright: A millwright was responsible for designing, installing, maintaining, and repairing mill machinery. This 1902 article reported on a labor dispute when millwrights demanded an eight-hour workday, but employers wanted ten.


NNeedle-Pointer: A needle pointer was a person who filed the points of needles. According to this 1822 article, breathing in steel dust caused health problems for needle-pointers, forcing most to end their careers by the age of 35.

OOrdinary Keeper: An Ordinary Keeper was an innkeeper. The terms “ordinary” and “tavern” used to be used interchangeably. Early records from Maine cautioned Ordinary Keepers about serving too much liquor.


PPinsetter: Bowling became popular in the 20th century and before automated pinsetters were invented, workers handset the bowling pins each time they were knocked down. This 1943 article describes how a pinsetter might set 132 games a night and be paid 9 cents a game.


QQuarrier: A quarrier was a quarry worker.


RRag Man: A rag man walked the streets with a cart, collecting old rags and other discarded items. He then brought them to a junk shop where they were resold. This 1894 article describes the job of a rag men and gives a detailed description of a junk shop.


SSaddler: A saddler was in charge of making, repairing, and selling saddles. This 1872 article describes what a saddler’s shop might have looked like.


TTeamster: A teamster drove a team of oxen, horses, or mules, pulling a wagon. A man who drove a team of oxen was called a bullwhacker. Teamsters transported cargo and supplies. This 1875 article described the duties of a teamster.


UUptwister: An uptwister was a textile industry worker that was in charge of winding yarn onto a revolving spindle.


VVitner: A vitner is a wine merchant. This 1859 article talks about the South Carolina grape industry and the oldest vitner in the South.


WWhitesmith: A whitesmith works with metals like tin, copper, and brass.



XXylographer: A xylographer is a person who makes engravings on wood, especially for printing.


YYeoman: A yeoman was a farmer that owned his land.


ZZincographer: A zincographer worked in the printing industry etching images on zinc plates. The line drawings used in newspapers before photography (like this 1893 example), were created by zincographers.


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The Arkansas Pearl Rush

In the 1850s, a New Jersey shoemaker found a large pearl inside a mussel pulled from a New Jersey river. The valuable pearl was sold to Tiffany & Co. for $1500. The find inspired others to scour freshwater rivers and lakes, hoping to find more gems. The hunt for pearls moved south, and in the early 1880s, more pearls were discovered in Arkansas. The discovery set off the Arkansas pearl rush which produced more than $2.5 million in pearls annually before the mussel population began to dwindle around 1905.

A group of Arkansas pearl hunters examine a pearl in 1905

It was the discovery of a large pearl in 1897 that fueled the Arkansas pearl rush. Dr. J. Hamilton Meyers found a large, valuable pink pearl in a mussel shell from the Black River. News of the discovery spread, and people flocked to the lakes and rivers, hoping to make a similar find. Makeshift settlements popped up along the rivers as men, women, and children joined the search. Newspapers compared the frenzy to the Klondike Gold Rush. The mussels were abundant, and pearl hunters gathered them by hand in shallow waters. Those lucky enough to find a pearl inside discovered gems in many colors, including white, pink, blue, purple, and black. The pearls were prized by jewelers and some even became part of a royal gem collection.

St. Louis Dispatch 1905

Single pearls could command a premium price if they met the specifications a jeweler required to form a matched string of pearls or earrings. One Arkansas pearl buyer recalled selling a single pearl to a French jeweler for $1,500. It was the final pearl needed to complete a necklace. The finished string of pearls had a value of $200,000!

The pearl rush also gave birth to a robust shell button industry. In the late 1890s, thousands of mussel shells were shipped by rail from Arkansas to Iowa, where button factories turned them into beautiful mother-of-pearl buttons. By 1900, button factories were operating in Arkansas, popping up along northeastern Arkansas rivers. Factory workers gathered mussel shells and placed them in hot water to open them. They removed the meat, graded the shells, and then cut them into button blanks. By the end of WWII, plastic buttons put most shell button factories out of business.

Daily Arkansas Gazette 1897

Overharvesting led to a dwindling mussel population in Arkansas, and by 1905, pearls were much harder to find. Shells were no longer available in shallow waters and pearl hunters relied on boats and special tools like long-handled tongs called pearling rakes to search in deeper waters. About the same time, cultured pearls were also making their way into U.S. markets. A Japanese man, Mikimoto Kokichi, had patented a new process of injecting a grain of sand or ground mussel shell into an oyster, forcing the oyster to form a pearl. Cultured pearl jewelry became popular and much more accessible.

Does someone in your family have a piece of jewelry that contains Arkansas pearls? If you would like to learn more about the Arkansas pearl rush, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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New Papers from California and Kentucky!

We are pleased to announce that we’ve added new papers from California and Kentucky to our archives. If you have ancestors from these states or an interest in the history of these areas, you’ll want to explore these new additions!

The Fresno Bee 7.3.1937 – The Search for Amelia Earhart

Fresno Bee: Founded in 1922, the Fresno Bee is a daily newspaper serving Fresno, California, and surrounding counties in the San Joaquin Valley. The Fresno Bee archive includes the Daily Morning Republican, the Fresno Morning Republican, and the Fresno Weekly Republican, with issues dating back to 1876. In Spanish, Fresno means ash tree, and the city was named in honor of the abundance of ash trees growing in the area. Fresno was a large agricultural area, and in 1876, the city installed the first irrigation system for farmers. Fresno is also a gateway to Yosemite, which was named a National Park in 1890. In 1893, the Fresno Weekly Republican reported that Galen Clark, a pioneer who first settled in Yosemite in the 1850s, ventured outside the park for the first time in 40 years. The Fresno Bee chronicled the growth of Fresno as the population increased and new industries arrived. In 1922, this ad touted a home for sale on a “paved” street! If you have ancestors from Fresno, search for them in birth announcements, wedding announcements, divorce notices, and obituaries.

Lexington Herald-Leader 3.25.1937 – F4 Tornado Destruction

The Lexington Herald-Leader: Located in Bluegrass Country, Lexington, Kentucky, is known for its beautiful horse farms and thoroughbred racetracks. The city also comes with a rich history and the Lexington Herald-Leader has chronicled it dating back to 1888. Our archives also include The Lexington Leader (1896-1982), and The Weekly Leader (1888-1901). The equine industry has played an important part in Lexington’s history. The state quarter and the state license plate both sport a horse, and Lexington claims the title “horse capital of the world.” The childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln is located in Lexington, and in 1969, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on a proposal by citizens to preserve the home. In 1977, the home opened as a museum and visitors can still tour the property today. If you have ancestors from Lexington, search this archive for stories about early settlers. You may also find them mentioned in society news, like this 1888 gossip column.

Start searching the Fresno Bee and the Lexington Herald-Leader on Newspapers.com™ today!

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No Matches? 5 Strategies to Try Next on Newspapers.com™

Newspapers.com homepage

Have you ever searched for an ancestor’s name on Newspapers.com™ but not gotten a hit, even though you suspect a match should be there?

There are a few reasons why this can happen: Maybe the person wasn’t mentioned in the paper by the name or spelling you’re searching for. Or maybe our site doesn’t currently have the paper where their name appears. But another possible reason has to do with OCR.

What is OCR?

All the newspaper pages on Newspapers.com have been indexed using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This means that a computer has tried to identify the words on each page and produce a digital version to search. When the newspaper image is clean and in good condition, this process is very accurate and can make searching papers easy. For older papers or other papers where the image is less clear, the OCR processing may miss words or read them incorrectly.

In the majority of instances, the Newspapers.com Search can correctly locate the names and words you’re searching for—thanks to OCR. However, given the condition of some historical newspapers, OCR has limits as it tries to decipher text from papers dating back as far as the 1600s!

So is it a lost cause if one of your Newspapers.com searches doesn’t return the matches you want due to the idiosyncrasies of OCR?

No! We’ve gathered our top 5 strategies for those occasional times when the OCR can’t identify the name you’re searching for.

1. Substitute letters (and numbers) with similar shapes.

Depending on the newspaper’s typeface and the quality of the image, the OCR might mistake certain characters for others that look similar. The trick here is to make an educated guess about what the OCR thinks it’s seeing and then adjust your search terms to reflect that. This often means substituting letters (and numbers) that have a similar shape.

Common letter & number substitutes

Common substitutes to try include y & g, b & h, c & e, t & f, l & 1, and s & 8. 

Keep in mind that this might extend to multi-letter combinations as well, such as rn & m and rr & n.

So while your ancestor’s name may have been C-a-r-r-i-e Smith, the OCR might read it as C-a-m-e Smith in some instances. Searching for both variations will likely return more matches in your search results.

2. Search with wildcards.

In addition to searching with similarly shaped letters and numbers, you can also try using a “wildcard” to replace a letter (or multiple letters) that the OCR might be misreading.

              READ MORE: Learn about using wildcards

Two wildcards you can use on Newspapers.com are the question mark [?] and asterisk [*].

Use a question mark to replace a single letter. For example, if the person you’re searching for has the surname “Johnson” but you think the OCR might be misinterpreting the lowercase h as another letter, you can search [Jo?nson] to return a wider set of results.

Use an asterisk to replace multiple letters. If you think there’s a possibility the OCR may be misreading a multi-letter combination, try searching with an asterisk. For instance, with our earlier “Carrie Smith” example, you can try searching for [Ca*ie Smith] to account for a possible OCR issue.

3. Search without quotation marks.

Although placing quote marks around multi-word search terms is useful in many cases, it can be less helpful when dealing with a potential OCR issue.

Using quote marks around your search terms forces Search to return results for that exact phrase. But if the OCR is misreading one (or more) of the letters in your search terms, searching for an exact phrase may actually cause it to miss a match. Removing the quote marks around your search terms will give the search more flexibility, increasing the chances of finding what you’re looking for.

4. Search for other names or for related terms.

Sometimes when OCR is the issue, you may need to use a different search strategy altogether. If the OCR isn’t picking up a name you’re searching for, instead try searching for the name of someone else who is likely to have appeared in the same newspaper article. For example, when trying to find someone’s obituary, try searching for the name of their spouse, parents, children, siblings, or another relative. While the OCR might have missed the name you were originally trying to find, the odds are good that it will still pick up a different name on the same page.

A similar approach is to search for a word or phrase that might be used in an article about the person, such as the name of an organization, club, or church they belonged to. Then use the Newspapers.com search filters to narrow your results by time and location until you find a likely match.

5. Browse the paper.

As convenient and accurate as Search is on Newspapers.com, in rare cases you might need to browse a newspaper instead. So if a search isn’t locating a match you suspect should be there, determine which newspaper editions seem like the best candidates and then go through them page by page until you find what you’re looking for.

Newspapers.com makes browsing easy as well. Select the “Browse” tab at the top of the site, then narrow by location, paper, and date until you find the issue you want to browse. Once you’ve started reading, use the arrows or film strip at the bottom of the Viewer to move to the next page of the paper.

              READ MORE: Learn about browsing on Newspapers.com

Newspapers.com Browse
Newspapers.com Browse

We hope you find these strategies and tips useful! If you have any to add, share them with us in the comments!

Get started searching for your ancestors on Newspapers.com™! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more content like this!

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Civil War Soldier and Wife Reunite After 28 Years

Life on the American frontier presented unique challenges, and it was not uncommon for loved ones to lose track of one another as they moved from place to place. In 1889, an unbelievable story made headlines when a Civil War soldier who thought his wife was dead learned that she was alive – and they reunited after 28 years.

Abilene Weekly Reflector 2.7.1889

Frank H. Hall was born in 1837 in the Netherlands. He immigrated to America and settled in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he got a job in a flour mill. There he met a young woman named Annie Rivers. Frank and Annie fell in love and married in 1860. Shortly after came the Civil War, and Frank was among the first to volunteer for his newly adopted country. He enlisted in the Illinois 42nd Infantry Regiment in 1861.

Annie accompanied Frank to the train station and wept as he boarded the rail car that would take him to his Illinois regiment. At first, Frank and Annie wrote letters regularly. In one letter, Annie informed Frank that she had given birth to their son. The Illinois 42nd fought in several battles including the Siege of Corinth, and the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge. Annie’s letters became less frequent, and one day, Frank received a letter from a friend in Wisconsin informing him that Annie died.

Darke County Democratic Advocate 1.24.1889

Frank continued to serve, and in 1863, received a discharge in Atlanta for disablement. After recuperating, he reenlisted, serving in the Thirteenth Ohio. For an unknown reason, he served under an alias, Benjamin F. Berkley (possibly because Berkley paid him a bounty to serve in his place). When the war ended, Frank continued to serve in the Sixth Cavalry in Texas. When he finally left military service in 1869, he moved from Kansas to the Washington Territory, to Michigan, and then later Iowa. Along the way, Frank met and married a second wife named Julia Nelson in 1869. Frank and Julia later divorced.

In 1889, Frank decided to return to Waukesha and visit old friends. He hardly recognized the town, but after searching, he found Annie’s brother, Joe. He asked his shocked brother-in-law to take him to Annie’s grave. It was then that Frank learned that Annie was alive and living in the poor house. Joe and Frank immediately went to find Annie. Along the way, Frank learned that the letter he received about Annie’s death was a mistake. It was Annie’s brother who died – not Annie.

Public Ledger 1.19.1889

When Annie saw Frank for the first time in nearly three decades, she didn’t recognize him. Frank called out to her saying, “Don’t you know Frank, your husband?” Annie rushed into his arms. Frank told Annie that better times were coming, and the next day he collected her things and they moved to Iowa.

Annie didn’t live long after their reunion. She died sometime before Frank remarried for the third time in 1894. Frank spent the last years of his life in the Milwaukee Soldier’s Home. He died in 1916 at age 79.

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April 2, 1863: The Richmond Bread Riot

During the Civil War, lack of food, money, and supplies created unbearable conditions for women living in the southern United States. Inflation and the lack of supplies left families reeling. Women especially felt the financial pinch and had difficulty providing food for their families. The situation was further exacerbated when the drought of 1862 impacted the harvest. Meager food supplies became even scarcer. The salt needed for preserving meat was also hard to come by. It was imported from the North and generally unavailable, or too expensive to purchase.

The Lancaster Examiner 4.15.1863

Tensions reached a boiling point in the spring of 1863 when civil unrest broke out in cities across the South. The unrest was organized by women, enraged by the exorbitant price of bread. They attacked stores and warehouses, stealing food, clothing, and supplies. The largest of these riots took place in Richmond, Virginia, on April 2, 1863.

In March 1863, a Richmond woman named Mary Jackson began recruiting women to participate in an organized protest. She was the mother of a Confederate soldier and frustrated with the government’s inability to provide aid for her and other women whose men were away fighting. She garnered the support of about 300 women. On the morning of April 2, 1863, Jackson arrived at the market in Richmond. She was a peddler, but that day she brought nothing to sell. Instead, she increased recruitment efforts and began warning men that trouble was brewing. The growing crowd of women began marching towards the governor’s office in Capitol Square, where they were turned away. There are varying reports of what happened next, with some claiming the governor eventually came and met with the women. The angry crowd began marching towards Ninth Street. As the women marched, hundreds began to follow, and the crowd ballooned. 

Liverpool Mercury 4.20.1863

Armed with guns, hatchets, and household implements, the women began to chant “Bread or Blood!” They attacked grocery stores, warehouses, and other businesses, stealing food, supplies, and even fine jewelry.

Soon, Richmond Mayor Joseph Mayo arrived and read the Riot Act aloud to the mob. They ignored him. Governor John L. Letcher sent for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He begged the women to disperse, warning that an artillery unit would open fire on the mob. Davis then emptied his pockets, throwing his money to the women. Tensions finally eased, and the crowd disbursed.

Rioters take more than bread – The Chanute Times 5.29.1889

Confederate secretary of war James A. Seddon asked the local press to refrain from publishing news of the incident, fearing it would fuel Union propaganda. Confederate deserters, along with Union prisoners who watched the scene unfold from their cell windows, leaked the story. The New York Times published a front-page account of the riot on April 8th.

Following the riot, more than 60 demonstrators were arrested, including Jackson. The women received varying degrees of punishment. Jackson’s punishment was merely nominal. The City of Richmond increased efforts to provide aid to the poor, restoring a measure of calm. The 1863 bread riots showed just how difficult life had become for women on the home front. If you would like to learn more about the Richmond Bread Riot, search Newspapers.com™ today.

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