Follow Friday: Upstate New York Newspapers

Face it, not everything can be found in The New York Times.

Actually, some people (um, my dad — cough-cough) have contended that nothing worthwhile could be found in The New York Times, especially if you actually cared about New York City news. As for news north of Westchester? Good luck. So went my father’s opinions about print journalism, as aired on outings to buy the Sunday newspapers at the candy store.

Too bad my Dad didn’t live to see the era of Internet newspaper databases.

Recently I came upon a lovely one for the Altamont Enterprise and the Knowersville Enterprise, two Albany County newspapers. The Guilderland (N.Y.) Public Library coordinated the creation of this database, whose earliest issues date  from 1884. Searching it, I was rewarded by a  list of public salaries paid by all the towns in the county. My great-grandfather Joseph F. Haigney appeared in it twice, once as a polling place inspector in Watervliet, and another time on a two-day temporary job as a clerk assisting the Canvassing Board. Scraps like this are not big revelations, but I love  them. Gather enough of them and your ancestor’s life and times slowly begin to come into focus.

Another amazing resource for useful scraps is the New York newspaper database. It encompasses over 12 million pages from a broad variety of newspapers, including the late, lamented Brooklyn Eagle. It’s been pure gold for me, turning up death notices and obituaries for my grandparents, great-grandparents and other kin, plus a news article about one of my great-aunts that’s a whole ‘nother blog post, it’s just that cool. Tom Tryniski, administrator of this resource, deserves a lot of kudos from those who benefit from it — and if you can swing it, some more tangible thank yous (if you’re so inclined, click here).


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