With so much of my family history throughout the last century and a half having taken place in Brooklyn, New York, the Brooklyn Eagle, the borough’s hometown newspaper, has been a valuable source for me as I try to piece history together.
And technology has made research so much easier. If I were taking on this project a decade ago, I’m sure it would require long nights at a library, shuffling the pages of newspapers, or scrolling through microfilm. Luckily, I’ve been aided in my research through the Fulton History website, a collection of New York newspapers. The collection includes the Brooklyn Eagle and other newspapers that would be relevant to New York researchers. The pages of the newspapers have been scanned and run through optical recognition software, and that makes the text of the paper searchable.
The search functions on the Fulton History website are fairly robust, but the interface isn’t the easiest to use. It does, however, provide close match results, and that’s important when dealing with scanned and machine-interpreted text. That means I can use “Sturmwald” as a search term, and the Fulton History website will provide results that are almost Sturmwald.
I prefer using Google to search the Fulton History website. This makes the results easier to view, but because this method of searching will provide different results than the search form on the site itself, I usually do both.
Now, however, there is a new collection of old Brooklyn Daily Eagle issues. The Brooklyn Public Library has teamed up with Newspapers.com to offer the archives of the Brooklyn Eagle for free. The library’s scans seem to be much cleaner than those on the Fulton History website, making the searchable index somewhat more accurate, and the Newspapers.com website is a lot faster and more responsive than the other.
This doesn’t replace the Fulton History website. First of all, Fulton History has more newspapers in the website’s database than he Brooklyn Daily Eagle, including other newspapers that cover issues in Brooklyn. The Newspapers.com search form does not allow close matches, so if I were looking for “Sturmwald,” I’d also have to construct queries that include “Sturnwald,” “Strumwald,” Strunwald,” “Sturmwalt,” and an infinite number of varieties just to try to ensure I’m getting everything I’d like to see.
The Daily Eagle archives from the Brooklyn Public Library seem to be more complete. I was able to find this photograph of my grandfather, Herbert Landes, using the new, free site.
In the photo, readers get a view of part of Herbert’s face, and not much else. But the caption says those in the picture are signing a petition in a drug store at the corner of 41st St. and 5th Ave., and in 1931, that would just happen to be the location of the Landes Pharmacy, operated by Herbert’s widowed mother at that time.
While an item like this is interesting, it doesn’t add much to my family tree. But the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has still been very helpful in identifying vital records, with death notices, as well as birth and marriage announcements.
For saving these articles as newspaper clippings to my personal finance tree, I generally copy the screenshot of the article. With Newspapers.com, I can continue to do this, but the site also offers a “save to Ancestry.com” option, which saves a link to the newspaper page as a genealogical source.
Thanks to the Brooklyn Public Library and Newspapers.com for providing this feature for free; I’m hoping it remains free for the foreseeable future.