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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course US: Newspaper Records by Rhonda McClure. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Biographical Sketches and Historical Items
There are many times that you will find biographical sketches on those who have been in a community for a long time. In some instances the sketch comes as a result of the death of the individuals being talked about, and as such it is important to remember that such information is sometimes flawed or not completely accurate. It is based on the memories or information given to the person writing the sketch. The same can be said of historical items, even when they are written by the individual involved, may have some discrepancies. However the valuable information shared in any type of article far outweighs the potential for error. It doesn’t mean that the information shouldn’t be verified, but because it has been compiled for you, it makes that verification all the easier, provided the information is basically accurate. You never know what you might find in a biographical sketch, but usually there is information about the individuals birth, including date and place, along with names of parents, at the least the father. There is usually some time spent describing childhood or other experiences that appeared to mold the individual in question. And then you can expect some space to be devoted to what made the individual important, either at large or to the community in question.
This article actually goes on for a couple of columns of the newspaper, and details the meeting of and marrying of his wife, and much about his life. If this was your ancestor, then you would have a lot of information with which to work in expanding this research with more traditional records.
Historical sketches are often the memories of someone who was involved in an event or a reporter’s interest in an historic event. There may be factual evidence cited, especially if the article is written by a reporter, but usually when it is the memoirs of an individual, you must just take the story apart and begin to use other resources to verify the story as a whole, though not all memoirs of this type are easily verified.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Newspaper Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.