In my book "Finding and Using African American Newspapers", I spend considerable
time documenting the immense value of social columns and foreshadowing the important
role they are destined to play in the genealogical success of African American
researchers. Unfortunately, these columns are largely unindexed, and only a few black
newspapers are online and fully searchable.
However, for a period of 15 months I extracted column titles from a variety of black
papers into a large database; I eventually captured over 5,000. This number currently
represents 46 states in addition to entries for the District of Columbia, the Indian
Territory, Mexico and Canada. I am making this resource available to the genealogical
community in the listings found by following the links at the bottom of the page. More
work has been done and when time permits the list will be updated.
African American Social Columns
Which communities did your ancestor's call home?
At present, the process of targeting newspapers for social column documentation is
random in many respects. Therefore I am giving you the opportunity to increase the
chances of the discovery of a social column of importance to your research. Fill out and
submit the form below with the names of up to 2 cities/towns of interest along with a
year (or time span). When possible I will examine newspapers that seem to hold the
greatest chance of carrying that column, and I will notify you if and when I find it!
**Please limit your request(s) to the time period from 1865 to 1940.
Notes of interest concerning the social column extraction project:
- The listing will have 19th century entries below 20th century ones.
- Some dates are given in ranges because the actual date not has yet to be pulled
from a separate set of notes.
- Be aware of some inevitable misspellings of city names. Names were generally
keyed as seen in the paper; some perceived errors were followed by a correction
in brackets or with the word "sic" in brackets.
- Several towns were listed in pairs; Lockland and Wyoming come to mind. Later
into the extraction, I began to break them apart upon entry into the database,
but earlier ones are in the list based on the name of the first town.
- Data has been collected over a long timespan and therefore you will see “Mt”
and “Mount” and “St” and “Saint”; such irregularities will be corrected should
the listing be produced in printed form.
- Most of the columns that stated they were society columns were not extracted.
- Columns from colleges/universities were typically not extracted.
- Sometimes the state a given city was in was not given and in some of those
cases the most likely state was entered in brackets. It is advisable to proceed
with caution in these instances. Wellsville, which showed up without a state
designation several times in the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier, is the name of a
town in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.
- There was no intent to copy columns that represented portions/neighborhoods
of a major city, but that may have been inadvertently done on occasion.
- A unique entry was found for Camp Vann in Benezette, Pennsylvania in 1935
in the Pittsburgh Courier; all indications are that it is a CCC camp.
- Another unusual find was for the USS Wyoming in 1924 in the Inter-State
Tattler (NY). (not put into the online listing)
Social Column Listings
|Newspapers Represented in the Listing
- Leavenworth Advocate
- Leavenworth Herald
- Chicago Defender
- Advocate (Boston)
- Boston Guardian
- Illinois Record
- Cleveland Gazette
- Birmingham Reporter
- Freeman (Indianapolis)
- Iowa State Bystander (Des Moines)
- Pittsburgh Courier
- Inter-State Tattler (New York)
- Indianapolis Recorder
- State Capital (Springfield, IL)
- Houston Informer
- Philadelphia Tribune
- Buffalo American (New York)
- Afro-American Advocate (Coffeyville-KS)
- Chicago Whip
- Rising Sun (Kansas City-MO)