Company newsletters can provide details about your ancestors’ lives. The details are not just limited to work life, either. Company newsletters contain wedding and birth announcements, obituaries and reports on employee sports teams, employee clubs and other social events.
The Indiana State Library Digital Collection contains 43 company employee newsletters to explore for information about your ancestors, including: Bell Telephone News, Dodge News, MagnaVoice and Studebaker Spotlight.
To start searching, it helps to know the following: the name of the company – or at least the industry – your ancestor worked for, the residence of your ancestor and the approximate time period your ancestor would have worked for the company. If you do not already know this information about your ancestor, you may be able to find their place of work mentioned in an obituary. Also keep in mind that variations of names could be used in company newsletters, such as initials or nicknames – and don’t forget to search those as well.
I will use my own family as an example of how to search the collection. I knew that my great grandmother worked for Perfect Circle in the 1950s and I knew that the Indiana State Library had the Perfect Circle company newsletter featured in the digital archives; however, I didn’t want flip through each and every issue with hopes that I would find her. How was this going to work? It turned out that it was super easy, barely an inconvenience.
So, how did I do it?
I just went to the Indiana State Library’s collection of Company Employee Newsletters and in the search bar in the upper left hand corner, I typed her name, “Sara Martin.”
My returned results showed three issues of The Circle – the company newsletter for Perfect Circle – at the very top of the results.
I clicked on one of newsletter titles, “The Circle, 1952-12-19,” and I saw the exact page – or pages – where my search results could be found. To the right of the page are the thumbnails of pages in the newsletter that I’ve selected. At the top of the thumbnails is the phrase “2 Results found in.” This lets me know that my two keywords “Sara” and “Martin” were found together on a page. There is also a vertical red bar to the left of the page where those results were found.
On this page, I clicked on the blue expand button at the top right of the page. I can see my search result is a photo of my great grandmother in the EEA Women’s Chorus that was formed at Perfect Circle.
I was inspired to try other names from my family, like Brammer and Swank. I found a baby photo of my dad.
And a photo of my grandmother.
I even found out where the whole Brammer family went for Thanksgiving in 1952.
Sometimes what is found isn’t all that exciting, but rather more informative, such as service years anniversaries. The International Harvester 20 years service award for my grandfather is seen below.
Explore the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collection of Company Newsletters, and I hope with a few easy clicks you will find your family, too!
Other online Indiana company employee newsletters to explore:
Allen County Public Library Digital Collections
International Harvester Employee Publications
The Co-worker (Wolf & Dessauer)
Candid Camera (General Electric news supplement.)
Ball State University Digital Media Repository
Gear-O-Gram Magazine (BorgWarner Corporation)
IUPUI Digital Collections/Indiana Memory:
AllisoNews (Allison Transmission)
Indiana Historical Society Digital Collections
Bursts and Duds (Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center Newsletters)
Michiana Memory Digital Collection
The Oliver Bulletin (Oliver Chilled Plow Works)
Chatter (South Bend Lathe Works)
Red Ball (Ball-Band, later known as Uniroyal)
This blog post is by Angi Porter, Genealogy Division librarian.