Living out on the Great Plains of America or any rural region was an isolated and many times a lonesome lifestyle. Yet, this was the type of everyday existence that many of our ancestors experienced for decades. With the advancement of the railway system, telegraphs, roads, mail delivery, telephones, and then vehicles such as autos, the rural families became less isolated.
One big item that helped were the publication of newspapers geared to the rancher or farmer. These print papers and some were magazines, arrived by mail to the farmhouse door weekly, bi-weekly or monthly and offered advice, news, information, columns and advertisements. It helped the farm family be a little more in touch with other parts of the local rural region besides those in the cities. Most of these publications ran from the late 1800s (1880s) into the 1930s. There were titles such as: Farmer’s Review, Farm Press, Prairie Farmer along with Farm, Field and Fireside.
The University of Illinois Library has placed online a site with some 21 different publications, two additional ones to be added soon, covering different years. There is a general search box at the top which covers the complete collection. Place as a keyword a surname, a town, an occupation, or a time period. To the left of the page you can use the Browse Archive or select the Search Archive, also.
By putting in a keyword, a listing of about 5 to 6 print articles with that keyword, along with a date will appear. There will appear a short sampling, usually with the keyword, for you to view. Next, click at the top for the second page of listings. For the key word “Williamson” there were 1,000 selections. Not all would refer to a family name, some were of towns named Williamson or companies.
You can narrow that search further by adding a given name or a state.
The search will reveal advertisements with a company or individual’s name. You just be surprised of an ancestor who owned or managed a business. If it is an article there is an icon to the right of each item to bring up that article. The same is for an advertisement. If you want to view the full page the item is on, click on ‘Page’ for that viewing which will be in PDF format.
Whether it is an ad or article, you just might even locate something written about your ancestor or even a photo. View illustrations of what was once considered the newest farm equipment or items for the homemaker. These papers for all family members, including the wives.
Some of the topics include health, hygiene, family recipes and available lands to homestead.
So review this site if there were ancestors living on a farm in the late 1800s into the 1900s.
Photo: June 12, 1909 Advertisement featuring Otto Rogers in Chicago Packer newspaper.< Return To Blog