Many genealogists are aware of historical newspapers, and search them out on NewspaperArchive.com, GenealogyBank.com, and the Library of Congress. But there are some important archival publications that are available with the original publishers.
Harper’s Magazine has been publishing monthly issues since July 1850. Current suscribers to the magazine have access to all of the content of the magazine from its initial run until the current month.
If you are lucky, you will find an article, as I have done, which talks about an event your ancestor was involved in.
The article, “A Stage Ride to Colorado” by Theodore R. Davis covers the stage coach route through Kansas to Denver, which was guarded by the 1st US Volunteers. My 3rd great grandfather, Thomas David Via, was a teamster in the 1st US Volunteers. This group of soldiers, the first “Galvanized Yankees,” joined the Federal army from Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates in order to avoid what was a probable death in the prison. Because they had been Confederates, they ended up getting sent out to the West to fight the wars against the Indians, who had been in rebellion because the Federal troops were preoccupied with combatting the Confederates.
But, even if your family and its experiences are not covered by Harper’s Magazine, it remains an important chronicle of American life and culture. Genealogists would be served well by reading contemporaneous journalism to understand the times, if not the life, of the subjects of their research.
You might also consider looking at the archives of the New York Times. The Times posts every article published since 1851. (There is a small fee for downloading the content.)
Tomorrow, I will write about what I found at the Times about an ancestral cold case from 1854.