I will admit I was torn about what to write about for this week’s prompt. My family has a special connection with newspapers in that four generations of my family has either worked for a newspaper, myself included, or has used the newspaper as a platform to discuss social issues in America. Click HERE to read more about my family’s connection with newspapers. I have also used newspapers to find information about my family and their movements throughout America. Click HERE to read more about how I found my 2X great grandmother’s newspaper obituary in the Saginaw News with the help of the Saginaw Michigan Public Library. Newspapers have also given me a glimpse into my grandpa Booker’s life as well. Click HERE to read more about my research of him.
My favorite newspaper find of all time is my 3X great grandfather, Robert Hatchett’s, emancipation papers that were published in the Arkansas True Democrat in July 1862. Robert Hatchett and his family were enslaved by Dr. W. H. Pickett. Robert Hatchett was born in Fauquier County, Virginia around 1796. The Pickett family moved along with their enslaved people to Limestone Alabama in 1829 and again in 1860 to Jackson County Arkansas. Finding Robert Hatchett’s emancipation papers was actually my first newspaper find. I remember going to the University of Arkansas library and looking through the newspaper on microfilm four years ago. Although I had the newspaper date, I couldn’t find it at first. I read through that newspaper at least three times until I found it. When I finally found it I screamed in the library. Seeing my ancestor’s name in the newspaper gave me such a sense of pride. It was like finding my own family within American history. It was at that moment that I knew that researching my family history would be my legacy. Finding this information from a newspaper is what gave me the confidence to apply to a lineage society, the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage. Being a member of this organization has allowed me to honor my enslaved ancestor and his story. And it all started with a newspaper.