Monday, August 22, 2011

Learning from other people, OR, GenealogyBank is awesome!

I finally caved and got a subscription to GenealogyBank. I told myself it was mostly for my husband, whose ancestors come from backwards states like Massachusetts and New Jersey, states whose newspapers haven't been made available online en masse by the unbeatable Thomas M. Tryniski of the unmatched FultonHistory website. My ancestors are all New Yorkers - even more, they're (almost) all Brooklynites, up until the last 50 years. What more could I ask than a site that has the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, plus dozens and dozens of other New York papers, just in case?

I should have known better. After all, I read lots of genealogy blogs, right? If you didn't know better, you might assume I pay attention to them, too. I sure thought I did. I remember two posts in the not-too-distant past about making sure you check multiple newspapers for your ancestors. Kerry Scott, of ClueWagon, posted Why You Should Always Check the Second Newspaper. That was literally the title of the post. Why you should always check the second newspaper. And what did I think? "Good thing I don't ever have to check other papers, since everyone in Brooklyn read the Eagle!" Humor me for a moment and take a look at the Brooklyn Public Library's list of Brooklyn newspapers that they have on microfilm. You don't have to read it. Just look at how very long it is. Then you can roll your eyes, if you must. Meanwhile, Liz Haigney Lynch of The Ancestral Archaeologist posted News You Can Use, in which she even mentioned multiple Brooklyn newspapers. And it's true that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that the responsible thing to do would be to one day check out the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union. But the Brooklyn Public Library was so very far away, and reading years of newspapers on microfilm can be so very tedious. I still didn't think I needed a subscription to GenealogyBank. After all, GenealogyBank doesn't have the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, so what good will it do me? I'll still need to get to Brooklyn to read the Standard Union, and what other newspapers will do me any good?

It turns out that the one newspaper that will do me the most good is one I didn't even know I needed. By the 1910s, the Mulvaneys were publishing their death notices in the Daily Eagle, like all good ancestors do when they know the Eagle will be available free online in a century or so. But a few decades earlier, back in the 1870s and 1880s, it seems that the Mulvaneys were dedicated New York Herald readers.

In less than an hour from the time when we began our GenealogyBank subscription, I had come across the following, from the 10 February 1883 edition of the Herald:

MULVANY - On Thursday, February 8, BRIDGET, beloved wife of James Mulvany, native of Kells, county Meath, Ireland. Friends of the family are invited to attend the funeral, from her late residence, 127 King st., Brooklyn, Sunday, 11th, at two o'clock. 

How long had I been trying to find out where in Ireland these Mulvaneys originated? Oh, only approximately forever. It was the one last family whose Irish hometown I didn't know. And "Kells, county Meath" waited, tucked away in a database I wasn't willing to subscribe to because I was sure that all the newspapers I would ever need the Eagle (free online) and the Standard Union (only on microfilm) (and occasionally the Times, but really not until after consolidation, which wasn't until the immigrant Mulvaneys were long dead).

In sum, pay attention to what you read, listen to people who know more than you do, read lots of newspapers, and don't be as dumb as I am.


Mary O'Malley said...

HiKatie, I live near Kells Co.Meath.I am acquainted with quite a few Mulvanys around here!

Katie O. said...

Interesting Mary - good to know!