I found an exciting new source for free family history information. It would appear that the Delaware County library system in Pennsylvania offers free subscriptions to NewspaperArchive.com for the Chester Times and Delaware County Times. This has made locating elusive family members and filling in historical details much easier.
The most exciting discovery was finding out my Great Great Granduncle was a World War I veteran. He enlisted in the Army and was part of the 40th Regiment of Engineers. With a little more research, I learned that the 40th Engineers were known as the camofleurs. They were a regiment of Artists and Painters in charge of creating camouflage for troops, artillery, and encampments.
In addition to that, I found articles about:
- A family member being arrested for disorderly conduct (and fined $2.35)
- A small fire caused by oily rags breaking out in my Great Great Grandmother’s (Sarah Rolin Crosby Moore) apartment (no one was hurt)
- A civil lawsuit filed by my Great Great Grandmother and Great Great Granduncle Walter (this will give me names and dates to go look up at the court house)
- And, of course, many obituaries
NewspaperArchive.com isn’t perfect. I tried to find an article on my Great Great Grandfather, Luke Crosby, who was killed when he was run over by a trolley in June of 1908. They only had about eight papers from early October of that year. Additionally, it appears that when they scan the papers, they use a a decent, but imperfect OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software, so their search can be hit or miss. It doesn’t appear that they use any sort of paid or crowd-sourced indexers to re-type or arbitrate the results of their scans.
I’m going to explore other library websites and see if any other libraries offer this free service. I’ll report back when I do.