The mass media are good friends of genealogists and personal historians. Newspapers, in particular, are rich sources of information because of their role in recording history, especially local history.
It was as a newspaper reporter that I came to appreciate the value of the stories of ordinary people. As I’ve pointed out in presentations, I have had the privilege of interviewing many luminaries in their field, from baseball stars Hank Aaron and Bob Feller to tennis star Ivan Lendl to country music maverick Waylon Jennings to rock and roll legend Dion DiMucci. But it was the stories of people whose names you wouldn’t recognize that stuck with me.
Newspapers and magazines are full of fascinating stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Thanks to their efforts, virtually every aspect of American culture has been preserved at a stunning breadth and depth.
But relatively few papers take on the subjects of genealogy or family history directly. You’ll find a few “Remember When?” or “On This Date” kind of pieces, but little direct discussion of what is proclaimed America’s No. 2 hobby – researching family history.
One such paper is the Albuquerque Tribune, which has featured the work of Mary Penner in her Lineage Lessons column. Until this week, that is.
The Tribune, like many afternoon papers, found it difficult to survive in the modern 24-hour news cycle world. Staffers at the E.W. Scripps paper were told this week that the paper would cease publication after its Feb. 23 edition.
Penner can still be found at her personal web site, but I’m certain many of her print readers will be disappointed by the move. On the other hand, the Vancouver (B.C.) Sun is soliciting brief family histories for publication. (Disclaimer: Newspaper links are notoriously fickle. Check them out soon before they disappear.)
What’s it like in your part of the world? Does your local newspaper have a regular genealogy or family history presence? I look forward to your comments.