Newspapers Provide Background to Understand Civil War Ancestors’ Lives

Mobile Tribune 18640001

Civil War newspapers can provide family history researchers the background critical to understanding our ancestors’ lives.

But where can you find them? And once you find a newspaper, will you need to spend hours reading faded type on printed pages or straining your eyes at microfilm?

Luckily for us, Vicki Betts, a cataloging and reference librarian at the University of Texas at Tyler, enjoys researching the Civil War period. She has transcribed the contents of many Southern newspapers and placed them online.

According to her webpages, the files focus on the homefront, including women, Confederate industry and material culture. The scattered military articles usually relate either to camp life or to Texas units or events.

These articles do not include foreign affairs, politics, monetary policy or general battle accounts.

Betts cautions researchers to use the transcriptions with care. “Editors gathered reports and rumors from correspondents, travelers and other newspapers, usually with little or no verification. At the same time, these papers do reflect what people of the period were reading and perhaps believing. As such, they remain a valuable source, used wisely.”

Betts provided a website search engine for the files arranged by title.

 

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