How can Social Notes be helpful for researchers?

Many people would not think the gossip column from a newspaper could provide useful genealogy information, but there are little tidbits that can come to the surface that help unlock different mysteries. For example, from the Mankato Free Press in 1907 related to Madison Lake:

“Farmers between here and Janesville who have organized a county telephone line took out a number of poles from Madison Lake, Wednesday. The line will connect with the Cannon Valley System at Janesville and besides that place will give service to St. Clair and Cream.”

This note, while it does not mention any families, can tell a person a lot. First, it was the farmers of the area that wanted the telephone lines. It also gives a general time frame for when the telephone came to that area. While this may seem insignificant, many people who look for their family history also look for interesting tidbits about their family members. With the information about the year, people can look through city directories looking for when the family got a phone. It also leads to finding more about the phone company to see if their relatives had worked on getting the poles set up.

Another example, from the Lake Crystal Union in 1907 related to Garden City

W. J. Osgood returned Sunday from Minot N. D., where he has been visiting his son.”

This small excerpt really is what we think if as a social note and can tell a researcher a fair bit of information. First we know that W. J. Osgood still lives in Garden City, Minnesota. We also know that his son lives in Minot, North Dakota. This small piece of information helps a genealogist find their next place to look to continue their family tree.

Searching social notes can be time consuming, but can help in the long run when looking for that key piece of information that helps unlock the next person in the family tree. Next time you visit the Research Center, take a look through the social notes and see what you can uncover. 

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