in search of…

August 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm (biography research and writing, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you are lucky, your biographic subject, their friends, relatives and times, might appear in books, newspapers and magazines.

However, unless you are researching someone who is currently famous, these resources may be difficult to find. Here are a few hints I came across.

1. Newspaper archives. As mentioned, the wonderful has an increasing number of papers from all around the world, and going back over a hundred years. They are also searhable by key word. This remains problematic in tracking down references to women who are oftend referred to as “Mrs John Smith” rather than their own name “Eleanor Smith” (for example). Also, if your subject has a common (popular!) name, this can be difficult.
Other newspapers also have their archives on line.

2. Magazines. These are much harder to find. Few magazine archives seem to exist, with the exception of Time and Life (online). A number of magazines articles I came across were sent to me by family archivists and geneology buffs.

3. Advertisements, postcards and other ephemera. These turn up on ebay from time to time, particularly if you have a topic of popular interest. For instance, Armour and Co. advertising material is frequently for sale. Postcards of towns are also for sale – handy if you are trying to get some idea of how a town looked many years ago.

4. Books. Amazon has an excellent second-hand book seller option, which often has items for sale very cheaply. In additon, some of the harder to find books can be sought through online searches at and Biblioz. Both of these take your details and the details of the book and then set up a permanent search.

5. Libraries often have books and newspapers – but you may have to go there to get them. Alternatives can be to get your local library to borrow it for you on an interlibrary loan, or to purchase copies of microfiche. Some libraries offer this, others don’t.

6. Geneology groups, family groups often have someone who is the collector of family history, particularly if there is someone notorious or famous in the family tree. They may have already collected the items you are after. Family may be happy to loan you items, providing you are not unearthing their family skeletons! If you are, then be aware you may only be given access to the items they want you to see.

7. Google. Don’t overlook Google as an excellent source of leads in tracking down items. Many of the online forums have buffs who are excellent sources of information, and of resources.

Happy hunting!

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