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Tip: German-Language Newspaper Search

Here’s a fun tip for researching relatives, especially 1st generation German ones. The Library of Congress’ Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers has a wealth of wonderful information and good search capabilities.  Many papers' scans have not made it into the library, but it's worth a shot to look.

If the paper had a good scan, the site can even do searches of papers written in Fraktur, the Gothic-style common in older German publications. 

The automated scans of old German newspapers (and lots of old German books) in Fraktur often have mistakes in individual letters, most commonly confusing s and f (so if you don’t find, says your Susanne Pfeiffer, you might look for ‘Sufanne Pseisser’ or the like). Computers sometimes confuse e and c, u and n, or nn with m, or rn with m as well. 

I recently looked up my great-grandfather, Alois Harschnek, who immigrated from Silesia to work on the 1896 Columbia Exposition in Chicago. I found him in a 1920 issue of “Vorbote” (translates to “Harbinger”) a Chicago German-language semi-anarchist paper. He apparently gave double what anyone else did, and 4 times as much as most people. We’d recently found that he was quite left-leaning through some newly-published letters from him to Joseph Peukert. 

Stay tuned for more tales of Alois!

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