Newspaper Research Day – 12 new venues for Donna Montran and “Chin Chin”

Newspaper Research Day

Today was a Newspaper research day.  I utilized three of my favorite newspaper sites looking for places that the show “Chin Chin” was playing during April and May of 1920. “Chin Chin” has funny search results depending on how and where you search.  I have found that instead of searching for Donna Montran and “Chin Chin,” it is better to search for Chin “Roy Binder” or Chin “Walter Wills.” Binder and Wills were the stars of the roadshow and are named in almost every article regarding the show. 


Elephind is a free site.  It searches the Chronicling America (US Library of Congress) as well as several other newspaper sources including the California Digital Newspaper Collection, and Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections.  The advanced search doesn’t give many additional search options, just years, countries, and sources. In my case, I sought only records in the United States and during the year, 1920.  
Elephind makes downloading a searchable PDF very easy. First, click on the article page.  Then I highlight the page information, for example, I highlighted the following:   The Bennington evening banner., May 13, 1920, Page PAGE TWO, Image 2.  Then click on PDF and then the download icon. When it presents the file name, I replace it with my copied title.  The metadata for the downloaded file indicates where the it came from. So between the filename and the metadata I have all of my source information.

Next, I went to Their search methodology is straightforward. It is easy to narrow the date to a particular month, in my case I searched from Apr 1 to May 30, 1920.  Once Newspapers.Com identifies your matches, it is very easy to review the option then print/save the article as either a clipping or as a full page. The good news is that if you select “Save as PDF” it auto-documents the source information for the page. The bad news is that the article is an image within the PDF and is not searchable.  It is like a JPG embedded in the PDF. 

Newspaper Archives via MyHeritage

Next, I searched Newspaper Archives. I had a subscription to Newspaper Archives a few year ago and liked it. Now my subscription is through MyHeritage where my Data Subscription allows access to Newspaper Archives.  The good news is that searching Newspaper Archives within MyHeritage resulted in many more matches than either Elephind or produced. The bad news is that the date filters, even when set to “Match Exactly” don’t work. So, my search for “Chin AND Binder AND Wills” during April 1920, yielded 787,764 results.  Admittedly, the first six matches were all articles I was looking for, however, after that the matches began to be from other months within 1920.
I did run into a problem using Newspaper Archives via MyHeritage.  I often would find a match and then click on the article to see the detail, then not be presented with an option to display the actual page.  I could not view the page nor download it.  I sent their customer support an inquiry and provided them a screen shot of what I was seeing.
Upon drilling in and verifying the information was what I was looking for, sometimes the files downloaded fine, sometimes the file download errored. I was, however, able to download all the files I could zoom into and review. Like the technique I used on Elephind, I’d copy the newspaper title, examine the article, confirming it was an article I am interested in; then I’d download the file using the Document information I copied moments before.  The files downloaded are PDF files and are fully searchable.

Genealogy Bank

I used to have a subscription with Genealogy Bank.  I liked them, but I found I just couldn’t afford three premium newspaper services. Once one of my other premium newspaper services expires, I won’t renew with them and will go back to Genealogy Bank.  My plan is to continue with two premium newspaper subscriptions at a time.   

12 New Venues for “Chin Chin”

Between the three sources, I found articles indicating that “Chin Chin” played on the following dates at the following cities:

1920-04-05 – Sandusky, OH
1920-04-06 – Lima, OH
1920-04-09 – Steubenville, OH
1920-04-10 – New Philadelphia, OH
1920-04-11 – Coshocton, OH
1920-04-20 – Cumberland, MD
1920-04-22 – Frederick, MD
1920-05-04 – Wilkes Barre, PA
1920-05-13 – Bennington, VT
1920-05-18 – Oneonta, NY
1920-05-19 – Mt. Carmel, PA
1920-05-31 – Bridgeport, CT

The research didn’t fill out April and May 1920, in its entirety, but adding a dozen new places for Donna Montran’s career is a good day of research. Now I just need more time to research the particular venues.
– Don Taylor
———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Newspaper Searching

I attended the Bangor Family History Fair at the Bangor Family History Center last weekend. Overall, it was a good experience and worth the two-hour drive, each way. Probably, the talk I enjoyed most was by Penobscot County GenealogicalSociety president, Dale Mower who spoke about “The How and Why of Online Newspaper Research.” His talk got me to thinking more and more about my research using newspapers and my process for searching. I generally use Family Search and Ancestry to determine the who, when, and where of my ancestor’s lives, but it is newspapers that provide the what and why – the texture of their lives.

After returning, I was corresponding with someone regarding my “Angley Project.” He asked what on-line resources he could be checking, particularly newspapers. Being a process type of person, I thought about the process I use and how to explain it to others. Here are the steps I use.

· Know subject
· Know what is available
· Search my paid sites
· Search general sites
· Search for specific online site
· Search those specific online sites
· Search for Microfilm availability
· Add further research to trip list.

Know Subject

Brown Family
I take what I do know about an individual, birth, marriage, death, and where they were during each of the censuses and any other key information I can find. I may print out Family Group Sheets for the individual I’m going to research in order to have it immediately available for comparison. I do so, particularly, if the individual has a dozen children or several wives.I use that information to help focus my newspaper research. I know it is tempting to start searching right away, but I’ve found developing an understanding of what may be available first is more productive.

Know what is available
There are two broad categories and several subcategories of newspaper record availability.

Available on-line
Through $ Service
Not Available on-line.
Not available anywhere

In order to be thorough, I think it is imperative to know what is potentially available, so I start with determining that.

First, I begin with with the Chronicling America – Library of Congress (LoC)

On upper right-hand part of the site is: [US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present]

I select where and when a newspaper was published. For example: Pennsylvania | Luzerne. I often add English for the Language (because I don’t read any other languages adequately) and a year range beginning with the decade of birth and the decade after death. That search provides a list of newspapers that are known to have existed. If there are more than a handful of newspapers, I will export what I find into a spreadsheet so I can keep track of them as I research with each of the potential sources.

Search the paid sites.

newspapers.comI currently have subscriptions with Genealogy Bank and Newspapers.Com, so I search them next. At this point, I keep my searches focused on the state and date range I’m looking for. I search using alternate spellings, initials, known addresses, the spouse’s name, and even siblings or children. Any papers I am able to search there I mark off from my “What’s Available” list, being sure to identify the site and years the site provides for that paper.

I also have a subscription with I search the card catalog there for “Newspaper” and the state I’m researching.

Search the free sites.

I use Elephind (
as my initial free site to search. It not only searches the LoC, but also
searches several other systems including California Digital Library. At this point,
I still keep my searches focused on the state and date range I’m looking for. I
search using alternate spellings, initials, known addresses, the spouse’s name,
and even siblings or children. Sometime even the community and surname along.
For example, surname Angley and community Pringle, which is where Michael
Angley, of my Angley Project lived.
Next, I check Google News Archives (
I compare what they have with the titles I found in my LoC search of newspapers with what Google News has. Google News often have gaps in their coverage,
but if you find something, it is awesome.

Search for specific online sites
Searching for other online records is more time consuming. I use Wikipedia’s List of Online Newspaper Archives and see what is available and through whom.
I also go to The Ancestor Hunt (, use the search box on the right site to search for the state that I’m looking for newspapers for, and note them. By the way, Kenneth Marks does an awesome job with his site, providing links to newspapers and photograph collections as well as blog lessons on how to better use newspaper resources. I highly recommend subscribing to his blog if you are interested in newspaper research.

It is also well worth it to see what Cyndi’s List ( has available. From the home page, the best thing is to select the state you are searching for under the United States then select Newspapers. Not only does Cyndi’s List provide links to many free collections but it also provides links to the paid sites list of newspapers that will then show what newspapers they have. For example, the Newspaper Archives link for Minnesota, and a drill down, shows me that Newspaper Archives have two Brainerd newspapers.

o Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1901-1977)
o Brainerd Dispatch (1883-1932)

If they cover my search area, I’ll consider a membership or see if my library, or a society that I am a member of, has access to that service.

Sometimes I do a Google search for “newspaper name” AND “city,” but I haven’t had much success with doing so if I’ve followed my search methodology up to this point. Again, every newspaper I find I mark off in my research spreadsheet.

Search those specific online sites
Going hand-in-hand with searching for those sites is
searching those sites. As I find them, I search for my ancestor, using the
multiple techniques to search that I’ve learned over the years. (Name, initials
and surname, address, misspelled name, spouse, children, etc.)

By this time, I’ve pretty well exhausted the available
on-line resources.

Searching for availability off-line

Although, I may have completed my on-line searches, there are still many more things I can do to learn more about my ancestor’s life.

Image of Microfilm Reels - Photo by C.E. Crane, From the Music and Performing Arts Library's Special Collections, University of Illinois, via Flickr

Going back to my LoC listing of newspapers, I select the newspapers that I haven’t found online and see what libraries have it. I’ve been amazed to find a microfilm copies near me. If there is microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have ordered a copy that to view at my local Family History Center. In addition, many libraries with both master and service copies will allow the service copy out on interlibrary loan; I’ve ordered microfilm that way, too.

Finally, I add newspaper information to my “Research Travel” wish list, which I keep in Evernote, to visit the library with that holding of that newspaper so I can peruse it when I travel or, possibly hire someone local to the archive to look for me.

As I do my on-line searches, I bookmark those sites with my browser. That helps provide a repeatable set of websites I can use to search if I need to search for other family members or otherwise extend my search parameters. I once found an article about the spinster daughter of an ancestor where she spoke about her childhood and described several things about her parents.

There are issues of newspapers that the Library of Congress doesn’t know exists. For example, I know that the Smyrna (GA) Historical and Genealogical Society has original copies of the Smyrna newspaper that don’t show up on a LoC search. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t done so yet, but I know I should also check with local historical societies and see if they might be holding old newspapers. Often times their holdings haven’t been cataloged and reported to the LoC.

My Key Newspaper Websites

A Note about Vaudeville Guides

Snapshot of the 1913-1914 Cahn-Lighton Theatrical Guide entry for Minneapolis, Minnesota's newspapers.
As a final note, another resource I’ve found to be very
useful are old Vaudeville guides. During the vaudeville days, traveling shows
needed to advertise at each location they played at. The vaudeville guides
provided information regarding newspapers for the various vaudeville promoters
for their advertising. For example, The
1913-1914 Cahn-Lighton Theatrical Guide
(available on Google Books) tells
me that there were three major newspapers in Minneapolis at the time, the “Journal,” the “News,” and the “Tribune.” The Guide also provides each
paper’s circulation. That knowledge helps me focus on the larger papers that
are more likely to have general interest stories about my ancestors.


Interlibrary Loan and Edward McAllister

I know I mentioned it before, but I’ve got to mention it again, Interlibrary loan is one of your best friends. I wrote last January about the Georgia Virtual Vault and Edward Lamb McAllister
I still had many questions regarding Edward’s murder.  Could newspaper articles provide answers to the questions I’ve been looking for?
One of my favorite places to look for books, or anything is WorldCat. WorldCat is a huge network of library content. It will tell you the availability of all kinds of things at thousands of libraries. So, I wanted to see where I might find the newspapers I was looking.
It took some poking around WorldCat to find a Savannah newspaper from 1925 available.  World Cat showed The Savannah Press had issues from 1891 to 1931 available at two libraries.  Zooming in, I found it available at University of Georgia, only about 1-1/2 hour drive so certainly a possible road trip. (The holding at University of Rochester (NY) was a bit far for a visit.)  Looking more closely at their holdings, they appeared to have both a paper and microform versions and the microform has multiple copies. One more click and I see their status as “Not Checked Out.” I took that as code that they allow the film to be checked out and will allow interlibrary loan.  
Logging into my county library, I selected their interlibrary loan option, which opened their link to WorldCat. I found the same selection, Savannah Press, and ordered it.
Savannah Press
Jan 14, 1925, Pg 14
A few weeks later I receive a call from my county library, the microfilm has arrived.  Going through unindexed newspapers on microfilm is a brutal process. This one was like I expected.  The nice thing about having the film local is I didn’t have to review it all in one sitting.  I could take my time and review the material over several visits if I so desired. Nice. 
Anyway, the view was about 1/12 of the page, so it was necessary to make three sweeps across each page, top, middle bottom, looking for relevant articles. I read, the papers slowly looking for key words in headlines and the first paragraph of most articles. Luckily, I could skip over the Society pages, and the entertainment pages.
I found nine articles during the two weeks following his murder. Lots of detail about Edward’s life, a photo of Edward, a photo of the man arrested for the murder and a photo of that man’s wife. Could she be the woman he was “bedding,” as mentioned in the family oral history? There was even a photo of the grizzly murder weapon. 
What a treasure trove of information. Having the film available via interlibrary loan save me several hours driving time, parking hassles, (It is usually a hassle parking at a University.) and the frustration of using unfamiliar equipment. Yes, Interlibrary is one of my best friends.