In the current edition of Family Chronicle (Nov/Dec 2013) there is an article by David A. Norris entitled Forwarding Addresses from the Past. In the article, Mr. Norris discusses ways of finding old family addresses and how the information can be helpful in researching the history and former owners of an old home or other building. If you would like to read the article, we subscribe to Family Chronicle, and you can find it in our periodicals section.
On the general topic of using addresses in family research, I would like to share a tip of mine. I sometimes type addresses into newspaper databases to see if there were any articles related to the people I’m researching. I will occasionally find interesting tidbits of information doing this. A lot of times the information is not directly related to the family I’m researching, but stories may come to light regarding interesting goings-on at that address. I have found articles on murders and accidents that occurred in tenements that my ancestors were living in at the time. This has given me some insight into the neighborhood and the environment of a relative.
One of my favorite databases to research an address in is the newspaper database of the website called Old Fulton New York Old Postcards (http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html). I use the exact phrase search option for this. The one problem that can occur in doing this type of search is that some addresses are common to many different areas of New York. For example, if you were researching “24 Rose Street” in Manhattan, your search results will probably include articles about 24 Rose street in Albany, Ithaca, Yonkers, and more. You will then have to sort through the all the results looking for the locale and time period you are interested in. It appears that the Old Fulton New York Postcards newspaper database doesn’t allow you to narrow down the exact phrase search.
So I would encourage you to keep addresses in mind during your research on the internet. It can be another angle in finding out more about your family, and it may also provide you with a glimpse, sometimes surprising, into your ancestor’s environment.