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African American Newspapers Forum

A Higher Purpose For Newspaper Articles


With respect to your Happy Dance posting, you are, as always, very welcome. I've been thinking that our mission with respect to the historical black newspaper articles, geneaologically, is higher. I have said that the articles themselves serve as "gap fillers" in that they fill in the gaps of ancestors lives, that mere census renderings cannot capture. I think, however, that our research compels us to determine why these ancestors are in those newspapers. What was their connection to the individuals supplying the news to the papers?

My grandmother and her family were mentioned in articles in the Indianapolis Recorder. They lived in Lyles, where there was great intermarriage between the families of Indiana's largest and oldest black settlement. She was related to what the Indianapolis Recorder called their "agents" in Lyles. A cousin said his father, who served for awhile as the Lyles agent to the IR, was dating the society editor for the Recorder in the 1940s. My great grandfather and his eldest and youngest brothers were barbers in Greenfield. George L. Knox, the owner of the Indianapolis Freeman lived in Greenfield in the 1870s, and trained all of them in the tonsorial arts (barbering). Knox later owned a string of black barbershops across the State, and attended the funeral of my great great uncle, according to an article in the paper. The youngest brother of my great grandfather was married to Rhetta Knox, a cousin of George Knox, and I believe she was the source of the Greenfield articles in both the Indianapolis Freeman and the Indianapolis Recorder. My research has lead me to communicate with a direct descendant (his great grandson) of George Knox. What are your stories of the newspaper connections to your ancestors? I believe that geneaologically, determining the connections are just as important as finding the articles - do you agree?

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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