16 September 2010

Newspapers, birthdays and Christmas gifts

What was happening in the world on the day your grandfather was born?

A good family history is one that includes historical context, and newspapers are an obvious resource. My 'list of things to do' includes 'Find a newspaper for the day each of my direct ancestors was born and died'.

I once researched a person who died in Sydney NSW at the age of 103. Normally I would have expected to find a short paragraph in the newspaper, but the death was completely overshadowed by reports of the dramatic opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

A few years ago, as Christmas gifts for my father and sisters, I laminated A3 photocopies of the front page of a major local newspaper for the day each of them was born. My father was born in 1919, and his page was filled with stories about the aftermath of World War I. My youngest sister was born during a cyclone, and the newspaper reports prompted Dad to tell us some interesting tales about rushing to the hospital in cyclonic conditions.

I hasten to add that important documents should never be laminated, as explained in 'Step away from the laminator!' The A3 pages I laminated were not for long-term preservation. They were just inexpensive gifts (which are used as place mats for informal family meals!)

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