Ethnic Newspapers

Those of us with non-English speaking immigrant ancestors are sometimes dismayed by the small amount of genealogical information found on them in local newspapers. One way to potentially overcome this problem is to utilize American newspapers in your ancestor's native language. Many large (and sometimes not so large) cities with substantial immigrant populations had newspapers printed in the immigrant's native language. Ignoring these papers could result in significant information being overlooked.

Why Use Them? It might have been that the only people who "cared" that your ancestor died, married, etc. were fellow natives of his or her home country. An ethnic newspaper may include more details about your ancestor than the local English-language paper.

When Antje Fecht died near Carthage, Illinois, in 1900, there was no obituary in the local weekly paper. Not even a one-line death notice. Her obituary in a German language newspaper was fairly detailed and included her date and place of birth, information on her immigration, and the Bible text from which the funeral sermon was given.

Louise Mortier's 1921 obituary in the Gazette van Moline (a Flemish language paper published in Moline, Illinois) provided her exact village of birth in Belgium, but did not mention her first name, only listing her as Mrs. August Mortier.

Why the extra details in an ethnic newspaper? Because the readers knew the area and usually shared a heritage, fellow Belgians reading the Gazette van Moline would want to know where in Belgium she was born. Readers of the English-language paper were not as familiar with the country and not as likely to care.

Learning About the PapersThere are many ways one can learn about...

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