A space-age scrapbook

Eight years of stories and obituaries are stored on a newspaper database
at the Saint John Free Public Library

Ruby M. Cusack

When I was a kid, my parents read everything that was written on each page of the newspaper. Mum was always keeping a watchful eye for any items that should be snipped out and placed in her scrapbook.

Every few days she gathered up the old papers and placed them in a pile in the back porch for the final step of their journey. It might be said that we were recycling before recycling bins had been invented. Each morning Mum took a paper from the pile and ripped and crumpled it. This served as a bed for the kindling when lighting the fire in the kitchen stove.

One afternoon when Cliff and I arrived home from school, we found Mum in the back porch. Immediately we knew our plans for going out to play were going to be put on hold. She was sitting on an old footstool, leafing through the stack of newspapers. She had forgotten to cut out Lawson and Mabel's wedding announcement to place in her scrapbook. Her fingers were covered with black ink and a few smudges could be detected on her face. As Mum used to say, "Many hands make light work," so we each took some of the papers and started searching the pages for the item concerning the wedding.

If only Mum could see the modern way to search old newspapers, she would be some impressed.

The Saint John Free Public Library has a database of the The Telegraph Journal, with many items also included from the Saint John Times Globe. It runs from July of 1991 to October of 1998.

I chose the topic "Obituaries" and typed in "Cusack" to do a search. It not only showed me the Cusack obituaries but picked out that I was named as a niece in my aunt's obituary.

Other categories are New Brunswick News; Sports; Editorial and the New Brunswick Reader. It really amazed me to find 41 references to the little community of Titusville under New Brunswick News.

Scissors are not needed for clipping from these newspapers - just press a button and the item is printed. Hours and hours of trying to find information are saved by sitting down at this computer and typing in a word.

By the way, you will find this miracle maker computer waiting for you in front of the desk in the Information Centre at the Saint John Free Public Library.

(This database is no longer at the Saint John Free Public Library)

Rusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at rmcusack@nbnet.nb.ca. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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