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Looking back through The Chronicle

This week Jason, The Mirror's editor, had me working on a little assignment looking up some things for him in the Augusta Chronicle Archives. I use the Archives all the time for my genealogy research, but I hadn't thought about telling you how valuable a resource it really is.

The Archives are a searchable database of all of the Augusta Chronicle newspapers, including the Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, The Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State, and The Daily Chronicle & Constitution. These are actual images of the newspaper pages.

There is a subscription fee, but it is well worth the cost if you are doing research in the CSRA. The archives cover 1792 to October 2000. The Chronicle is in the process of adding the earlier editions to 1786.

You can read old obituaries that will tell you quite a bit about a person. However, you don't really see too many obituaries prior to the 1920s. Early obituaries were reserved for prominent citizens or an interesting cause of death (homicide, suicide, communicable disease or death in a war). Birth and engagement/wedding announcements are useful too.

In the 1800s, you will find a lot of legal notices. You will find guardian bonds and wills being probated. Before the Civil War you will also see slave auctions. This can be particularly useful for black genealogists. There are very few records that will actually record a slave's name. If the slave owner was selling only a few slaves they are sometimes listed by name.

In the early 1900s, personals were very popular. You will see who was visiting whom and who is doing what charity work. You will find notices of illness. You can use this to form a little timeline. If a certain person is listed as being sick in August of 1926, you can start looking for the obituary in the next few months. If the person gets better there will be a notice to that effect.

The search engine can be a little tricky to use. If you use quotes, you will only get that exact phase. If you use "Gazaway Lewis" you will not get Gaz Lewis or Gazaway S. Lewis. You might have to run the name with several variations. It really helps if you can narrow down a date range. If you want to find an obituary for John Samuel Maddox and you know he died in 1939, you can use the date range 01/01/1939-12/31/1939 and the words John Maddox died funeral without quotes.

I warn you, you might find a few surprises. In my husband's family, I found three relatives that had been murdered and three more that had allegedly murdered someone else! My husband had no idea.

The Augusta Chronicle Archives are at The subscription fees are: Day Pass $4.95, Week Pass $12.95, Month Pass $19.95 and a Year Pass is $199.95.

Web posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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