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These days, I do most of my genealogical work on  They've got a huge selection of records which can be conveniently linked to each relevant fact.  But they've also got libraries of material which are not readily linkable.  For one example, there's newspaper archives.  Those can also be found in other online locations, such as the Smithsonian or Library of Congress.  And, of course, these are useful for many research purposes, not just genealogy.

Obituaries or articles about weddings, for example, often contain a wealth of useful information for genealogical researchers.  Lately, I've been looking at the in-law families of my grandfather's brother.  He was a military officer who had three wives.  The third wife's family is showing quite a few divorces.  Very modern, but also complicated to sort out.  In one case I found a daughter who never resided with her mother during any Census.

So: I've just found an obituary with several bits of useful information.  It can also serve as a primer on how to prepare attachable items.  I use Firefox on a PC with an XP operating system and PhotoShop, but the basic functions and principles are similar in other operating systems and software.

I'm looking for Arthur Rogers Nickerson, a career U.S. Navy officer born in Massachusetts.  In, I click on "Search Historical Records" on his page, then choose "Newspapers and Periodicals" from the left column to narrow the results, and click on an item of interest.  This is what I get:

The search terms are highlighted.  This can be especially helpful with small items, which can be devilishly hard to find on a full page of newsprint.  There's a way around that to remove the highlighting from your final product.  The navigation buttons are highlighted in red: click the arrow to go forward one page, then back one, and you get the same page without the highlighting.
To fit the article better on the screen rotate 90 degrees.  (This matters more with articles that are a little longer than this one.)
We're now ready for the screen capture.  On my PC laptop, screen capture is Alt-Fn-PrntScrn/F11; on the desktop, it's just Alt-PrntScrn.  This saves whatever shows on your screen (or the current window) to your clipboard.  Macs have a wider array of options.  Now it's time to open the file in PhotoShop.

Open the program, then Ctrl-N to launch a new file, which opens this dialog screen.  If you've got a screen capture in your clipboard, this will default to that image size and no changes are required.  I find it helpful to name my file now, but that is optional.

Once you click OK, you'll get a blank file template.  Ctrl-V will paste the screenshot (clipboard contents) in that frame.  Please note that I have customized my PhotoShop which is also an older version of the program, CS3.  Your workspace will look different, but all the functions are still there.
On the left side of my workspace is a vertical bar known as the toolbox.  Many of its functions also have keyboard shortcuts.  The name of each can be found by hovering the cursor over its icon; many have more than one option, which can be seen and selected by clicking on the icon.  First thing I'm going to do is to crop away some of the parts I don't need.  Letter "c" is the shortcut for that.  Click & drag to define the area you want to keep.  You can adjust if you don't get it right on the first go, and use the arrow keys to move it.
I've left some room at the top so I can add information about the newspaper the clipping is from.  I use the erase tool, keyboard shortcut "E", to clear that part of the image away.  You can adjust the size of the eraser and the hardness of its edge by right clicking over the image.  I go for 100% - the hardest edge - for this task.  If you hold down the shift key while erasing, it will move in a straight line either vertical or horizontal.
The article says Mrs. Nickerson died on "Tuesday" and that she was born "in this city."  You need to know the newspaper, day of the week and date to get all possible data points.  I'm going to add that information to this clipping with the Text Tool.  Note: Keyboard shortcuts for other tools don't work while you're using the Text Tool.  

First we'll get ready by looking at the character palette (see right).  To find it, click on Window on the Menu Bar at the top of the screen and then choose Character on the drop down menu.

There's a lot of options in that little box.  You can pick a font, and set its size and color.  You can, amongst other things, change the spacing between letters, stretch or compress each letter's height or width, the spacing between lines of text.

You can change your text after entering using the character palette.  Just highlight whatever text you want to change, and set the attributes.  That's all it takes.

So, now it's time to enter the text.  To do so, just click on the toolbar, select at the top of the screen what kind of justification you want (I'm going for centered because the name of the newspaper is long so I'm putting two lines of text.)

With the date (including the day of the week) and name of the paper, we've got exact information about a variety of dates and relationships in the story.  It's time to rotate the image back to the correct vertical orientation.  For that, it's Image > Rotate Canvas > 90o CCW.  
It's a little bigger than is needed for easy viewing, so I'll size it down using Image > Image Size (Alt-Ctrl-I).  It gives you a pop-up box.  I filled in 500 for height.  If you click Constrain Proportions, the width will be automatically scaled.
The screen capture is almost done now.  There is one more thing: The background behind the text is a light gray, rather than white.  And I've seen online newspaper clippings where they background is a distracting darker or brighter hue.  For this, an adjustment layer is the thing:  Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels.  On a non-complex file like this one, naming the layer doesn't matter much, nor does it matter much to click Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask.  But it's something I almost always do; it isolates the effect of the adjustment layer to that one layer it's attached to.
Once you click OK, you get this box to do your settings.  It shows the distribution of pixel brightness from pure white to full black.  The slider circled in red is at the white end of the spectrum.  The green one at the opposite end of the spectrum is for black.  You can see how almost all of the pixels in this image are white or nearly white, or else black.  The Preview box, toggled off and on, can show you the effect of whatever adjustments you've made.
In this case, sliding the right triangle to the left, and the green ones to the right sharpens up the contrast of the clipping.
And here's the result:
Now, all that's left is to save the file.  For that, it's File > Save for Web and Devices, which brings up a screen full of options.  The essential part is to the right:
The two essential settings are circled in red.  The one set at GIF could also be set as JPEG, PNG, WBMP.  GIF is a good setting for this essentially two-tone black and white image.  It makes small files, and the Daily Kos image library's automatic compression isn't so harsh as it is with JPEG images.  For a photograph, either B&W or color, JPEG will be the better option.  (Daily Kos compression is less harsh with a PNG file, but those are also very big files, and rarely the best choice.)  Since this is only B&W, 16 colors is plenty enough.  You can change the image size - pixel dimensions - if you click on the tab circled in green.  The size the file will be when saved is shown circled in turquoise.

When all is done, you have a sourced file with a variety of genealogical information.  It can be attached to all the relevant persons in your database, printed out (you'll want a larger file size for that), or stored by whatever file system you employ for such information.  Since I use, I add the files to the media gallery for each person the clipping provides information on.  It's worth remembering, too, that just because you find something on the web now, that's no guarantee it will stay there permanently.  A screen shot means you have the contained information for keeps.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party (quoted by Paul Ryan without proper attribution)

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:30:05 AM PDT

  •  valuable tips (9+ / 0-)

    thank you. hotlisted.

    It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.

    by raina on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:42:57 AM PDT

    •  The followup would/could address (8+ / 0-)

      ... a couple of other issues.  One, when the article is skewed off square vertical/horizontal.  The other piecing together an article in more than one piece, like when it's continued on another page.  Or if it's too long and thin, cutting it in half or thirds to make it to a shape that fits more easily on the screen than something too long and thin.

      There's also useful tips for those historical photographs that are faded or stained or &c.

      "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party (quoted by Paul Ryan without proper attribution)

      by Land of Enchantment on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 09:51:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  LoE, thank you for the time and effort (8+ / 0-)

    you put into this post.  I can imagine so many ways I can use this.

    I've been looking for a free download of Photoshop like I used to have (the trial period just expired), but I might just have to cave in and buy it.  We're supposed to be replacing our computers in three weeks (a new window's operating system is coming out then, I think my husband told me), so maybe I'll wait to purchase it until then.  Unless it's already included in the price of the new computer (I dunno, is it usually?).

    Anyway, once I get my garden torn down and "winterized" (I have to pick the rest of my veggies this afternoon - expected freeze tonight and tomorrow night), I'll need a good winter project, and this looks like it.

  •  Thanks, great tips..I hotlisted (8+ / 0-)

    I just got my dna results back from Family Tree, has anyone else had theirs done and if so, how do I make heads and tails out of the results? Also, I am thinking of having more testing done, and do any of you have a suggestion for which upgrade I should have done. I am a female so I only have my maternal results so far.  

    Anybody have French Canadian ancestors? I never realized how far back my grandmothers maternal family went in Quebec and France.. Yikes, I have already learned Dutch ancestory from my maternal grandfathers side now I have to learn French Canadian and sort out all those names, and why do all the women start with Marie?

    •  I'm not sure how much value there is to gain (7+ / 0-)

      with DNA testing on its own.  I think the value is derived once it's compared to other people's DNA, hopefully those who have known deep ancestries.

      I had my mitochrondrial DNA done once, but that was through National Geographic, so didn't pinpoint much recent information (within 800 years).

      My husband had the y-chromosome and mitochondrial tests.  Since he's African-American, we haven't been able to document past 4 generations back (with the exception of one proven white line of his g-g-grandfather).  But even with that, we know know that his paternal line traces back to the Tsonga tribe of Mozambique, and his material line traces to the Djola & Balanta tribes of Guinea-Bissau.

      I'm afraid that's the only deep history on his side that we're going to be able to uncover.  But we're glad we have at least that.

  •  I love this post. (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the practical primer. I know it will be very useful for many of us!

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 10:15:04 AM PDT

  •  The GFHC Group is looking for (7+ / 0-)

    foster parents to host a Friday Open Thread.

    Our current schedule

    Oct 9 (Midweek)   TayTay
    Oct 12    larmos
    Oct 19    Desert Rose
    Oct 26    jeanette0605
    Oct 30 (Midweek)  TayTay
    Nov 2     DrLori
    Nov 9     open for adoption
    Nov 16   open for adoption

    As noted above, TayTay plans to provide us with a special mid-week diary, which I'm really looking forward to.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but now that my summer activities are slowing down, and my garden will finally be put to bed within the next couple of weeks, I plan on spending a lot more time on my family history for the next few months.

    So, are there any volunteers to take an open date?  There's nuttin' to it but a whole lot of fun!


  •  thank you for this (5+ / 0-)

    Very helpful!

    Im hoping to find the time to jump back in to ancestry after a year's hiatus. This time I want to make sure I get my stuff organized. No really!

    There seems to be a lot of little 'tricks' in ancestry dot com that elude me, and Im too impatient to actually, ya know, read the directions. ha.  

    Searching historical newspapers and such has been especially challenging for me. Im not up on all the standard search tricks (like * or ? wild card stuff) and Im doubly challenged b/c I hoping to find out what the hell happened to my grandfather's sister's husband... who has the unfortunate (for searches) surname STAIRS... back in 1909 in or near Missoula Montana. He died at age 42 but thats about all Ive got.  

    We have a "family legend" Ive been trying to 'verify' that has me suspecting maybe it was him who died in some kind of bar-room shoot out (and not my great-GFA back in NY or PA as the legend has it.) Aaaaand, maybe it was her - my great-Aunt - who then ran off to Alaska and to become a successful Madame, lol. (Rather than my great-GMO...) How these people got this story so screwed up Ill never know. I mean, if Im right.

    Get out there and get peace, think peace, live peace, and breathe peace, and you'll get it as soon as you like.” ~ John Lennon

    by Lady Libertine on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 11:07:50 AM PDT

    •  Lately I was searching someone (5+ / 0-)

      ... called "Rose Strange" - needless to say, I got more mediocre poetry than genealogical information in my search results.  It surprises me, really, how many names give extraneous results.  So many common names have other connotations:  Franklin?  Back in the 1800s USA a lot of people named their kids after Benjamin Franklin.  And whaddya get for a search result?  Franklin stoves!!

      And even just first names:  Rose, April, Mark, John, May, Daisy, Joy, Frank, Georgia, Penny, &c &c &c all have other meanings that come up in regular prose.  Even moreso on last names.

      "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party (quoted by Paul Ryan without proper attribution)

      by Land of Enchantment on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 11:19:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  search News (5+ / 0-)

        for STAIRS and you'll get every story of every person who ever fell down a flight of stairs in the past century!

        One trick I just realized recently at ancestry is to NOT start the Search from the person's Profile but to just go to the Search All drop down up on the toolbar area, then, to narrow it down, go to the state you want and manually type in your person's name & info from there. That works better some of the time.

        Get out there and get peace, think peace, live peace, and breathe peace, and you'll get it as soon as you like.” ~ John Lennon

        by Lady Libertine on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 11:31:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I had been looking for the origin (4+ / 0-)

      of an individual (a friend's ancestry) for over 2 years.  I don't know how I did it, or what I did different this time, but I guess I just formatted the name just right, and just this week the individual's name popped up.  This was on google.

      That's when I found out there was a second marriage involved, which lead me to an obituary that had just been posted online this past January.

      So I now know where she came from, I now know where she died, I now figured out why I hadn't been able to find her before, but unfortunately, the obit didn't tell me the names of her parents.  Two days of searching, and I still haven't found them.

      But as this new discovery shows, never give up, right?

      About your family story that got all twisted and screwed up, I know exactly what you mean.  On my husband's side, they had many facts correct, but applied them to the wrong individuals.  Took a lot of work to straighten out those messes - and some people still insist I'm wrong (family tradition being more valid - and likely more interesting - than demonstrable fact, ya know)!

  •  Great diary, LOE. (5+ / 0-)

    It's going on my hot-list..... right now!

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 11:12:30 AM PDT

    •  Try Microsoft OneNote, too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Land of Enchantment

      I also highly recommend Microsoft OneNote for genealogy research.  The software was designed for researchers (college students/writers, etc), but it works beautifully for geneaology.  It's robust, but easy to use.

      With just a few clicks, you can save images, documents and any other information you find on a person in a "notebook" on your PC.  The information is time stamped with the website address where the information was found.  

      I have a notebook for every surname I research with a section inside the notebook for each individual person with that surname.  The notebooks are printable, searchable, and shareable.  The software can also transcribe pdf documents into text.  It's amazing and I can't live without it.  

      Happy hunting!  

  •  Hi, everybody--I know asking around on here is (5+ / 0-)

    probably a long shot, but I have encountered several Kossacks who have roots in eastern KY--so maybe there's somebody around here who might be able to help me out.

    I am looking for the descendants of William Harris (born 1849 in NC) and Mary "Polly" Ann Vance (born 1846, died 1875). They lived in Knott County, Kentucky. William was the son of Jacob Harris, (born 1803 in NC) and Jane Cannaday (Kannaday) who were married in NC and migrated to Knott County, KY. According to some of the people who researched our genealogy, Jacob Harris received a land grant in eastern Kentucky after the Civil War.

    Some of the heirs in this family have retained an attorney who agreed to take the case on contingency to help them determine whether or not the mineral rights to the property the Harris family owned in Knott County was illegally signed away. At around that time, representatives of the coal companies were going around buying up the mineral rights to much of the land in eastern KY. It is believed by some relatives that the signatures on the documents pertaining to the Harris land may have been forged, since none of the children in that family would have legally been old enough to sign them.

    So now, several of us are trying to find some of our lost Harris'. If anyone here has any information that could help us out (or if anybody knows any good tricks for tracking people down) it would be greatly appreciated.

    I posted this question in another diary, but somebody told me I should ask around in this one, too.

    •  I hear this same story a lot (3+ / 0-)

      I do a ton of research on because I'm helping document a historical cemetery in Houston, Texas as well as doing my own family history.  I have at least 10 trees that I actively work on, with more than 4500 families in the cemetery tree alone.  I've been doing this for more than 20 years now.

      Needless to say, I field a lot of questions from people seeking information about their ancestors that they've seen in my trees.  I help them as much as I can even though I'm not related.  And I get great pleasure from doing so.

      However, (and I don't mean to be rude) I also get "phishing" emails from non-family researchers seeking living descendants because of mineral rights claims.  I am always skeptical of these requests.  I've run into these researchers in person at county courthouses doing the same sort of genealogy searches I'm doing.  But they are doing it for a completely different reason.  They want to find descendants in order to perfect a legal claim to mineral rights.  That is no small matter in Texas with oil and gas running under many family farms.  Why should I help someone who is not being up front and is getting paid to find these descendants?  

      So I've got to ask, are you a Harris descendant seeking family information or a person with a legal claim on Harris land?  

      •  I'm a Harris descendant--and the reason we (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        need to find everybody is that we are planning on suing for damages since our mineral rights were basically stolen. And we want to make the coal companies pay us--they have made millions off the coal that was on our land--coal they had no right to touch in the first place.

        •  Honorable intentions or s scam? (0+ / 0-)

          hotowngenie brings up an important warning to everyone.

          Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Some people are more gullible than others. Most requests are honorable and genuine. Some are presented in ways that seem questionable. Some are clear attempts to extract personal or private information in hopes of perpetrating a scam of some kind.

          Then there are the individuals who end up getting pulled in to a scammer's scheme. There are many, many, people who end up helping a scammer without having a clue that they are being used.

          I have no way to tell whether this specific situation is genuine, honorable, or anything else.

          I will say, up front, that I wouldn't touch this request with a ten foot pole.

          This is based on the one key question above;

          Why should I help someone who is not being up front and is getting paid to find these descendants?
          The motivation doesn't matter at all.

          What matters is that this is claimed to be research on behalf of a potential legal case.

          The first thing that everyone needs to understand is that this changes everything. Now you're looking at rules of evidence and qualification of expert witnesses. Believe me when I say that the courts know all the tricks and traps and have tightened up the rules accordingly.

          As it was pointed out above, the people who do the research for legal purposes are getting paid to do this. They are credentialled and often licensed and board certified. Their work is often reviewed by third parties, often subgroups within state agencies such as the Secretary of State. The sources might even need to come only from state agencies such as the state archives, Library of Congress, Department of Commerce (census records) and the like.

          There's also the idea that a lawyer would take on a case like this on a contingency basis. To me, this smells of a class action legal whore. This is another so-called specialty legal practice The result is ALWAYS that the lawyer gets most of the money.

          It's easy to get scammed by these schemes. It's always an emotionally powerful appeal. That's why many of the scammers try to play the poor orphan or the newly reformed child wanting to make amends card. I leave as fast as possible.

          This worked for Scott Walker in Wisconsin, btw. The scam can be about anything,

          "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

          by GrumpyOldGeek on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 11:59:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Good luck on your search (0+ / 0-)

          GrumpyOldGeek is right, I'm afraid.  Genealogy is a hobby/avocation for most of us here, and we love it for the joy it brings us.  A monetary reward is not what we seek and I'm afraid it sullies us to be involved in this way and puts us in harms way unnecessarily.  

          One of the side benefits of finding "dead" ancestors is that living relatives pop up and claim our ancestors, too, and we suddenly find we have cousins to the nth degree.  I've found many living relatives and have connected with people around the globe.  I'm sure you will, too.  Good luck in your search.  

    •  In this group (0+ / 0-)

      ... we're all doing our own research.  We aren't so inclined to drop our own interests and do work for someone else, regardless the reason; especially someone who's not participated in the group, someone who's a stranger to the group.

      However, if you read this group's diaries over time, looking back, you might get some tips on how to do the research you're interested in yourself.  You're not so likely to get us to do it for you.  It isn't generally how we work, so that's probably why you didn't get much response to your request.

      "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party (quoted by Paul Ryan without proper attribution)

      by Land of Enchantment on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 01:33:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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