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Finding local & family history in Newspaper Index

Building local newspaper index

I recently learned my archive work in the 1990s was not in vain. During the '90s I worked with Warren Taylor in the Topeka Room/Special Collections/Genealogy area of the library. On a daily basis Warren would look at the Topeka Capital-Journal and mark articles of local interest that we would place into the vertical file archive of the Topeka Room.  

I was given a database program and began indexing these articles into it. We used the Library of Congress subject heading guidelines to keep everything as cohesive as possible. The scope and quantity of the items grew as my familiarity and comfort level in the process expanded. Ultimately included were items like the Daily Record, wedding announcements, birth announcements and obituaries all with individual’s names. 

It was a great help for a while. My work on that index ended when I moved to Red Carpet Services where I select and deliver items to older adults in congregate living sites. It wasn’t until around 2010 that we realized the information did not match the microfilm we had. We discovered the issue on the microfilm was not the same as the hard copy I used originally. It felt like a decade of work was wasted. 

Newspaper index success

Working in the Topeka Room recently a woman came in asking about wedding announcements and locating them in the newspaper. We chatted and she said the time period was for the 1990s. Needless to say, I was cautious but excited to try.   I showed her our Local Newspaper Index. We put in the names she was searching for and easily found them. Not only did it pull up the wedding announcements, but also the engagement announcements and the filing for a license. I printed off the citations for both events, pulled the microfilm from the drawers and went to the scanning machine.  Not only were the dates correct, but the page numbers were as well!  

Searching newspaper index

The process is not difficult, but there are a few steps.  If you go to the Local History Resources page, there is a link to the Newspaper Index in the Topeka & Shawnee County History section. Here's the direct link to the Local Newspaper Index.

You'll notice the top menu of this page also has Obituaries if you want to only search the Obituary Index.

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This search is where you can type in any combination of words to find the articles you want. It is automatically a "keyword" search so it looks for any of the words in the entire record. 

I am also a professional musician and am part of The Castle & Cross Consort so this is the search I will do. You will see that there are four articles indexed. 

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Clicking on the first article will give you the abstract showing all the details available. Unfortunately, this full article is only on microfilm.

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The "next" button at the top right will take you to the other citations. Note the date, page and column number to be sure to find the proper reel of microfilm. 

As you can see, the process isn’t complex, as long as you know that it is there and where to look. I’m glad that a decade of my career is still there for everyone to use.   

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