Posts Tagged ‘obituaries’
Yesterday I tweeted that I found an obituary full of family information. I had so many names in one obituary it was fantastic! I got a response from a follower that obituaries are great but you have to do the research to make sure the names and relationships are accurate. We had a brief discussion on twitter after that and I thought this topic would make a great post for today.
Obituaries are death notices written when someone dies. They typically list the deceased’s name, possibly with a (nee …) “nee” stands for the maiden name and “…” is what the maiden name was. So you might see Alice (nee Smith) Jones died as the beginning of an obituary. The notices also usually tell you when and where the funeral and church service, if any, is being held and where the person is being buried.
Obituaries sometimes also provide a wealth of information on the deceased’s family. It may list the spouse, the names of the parents, siblings, in-laws, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. The obituary I found yesterday contained almost all of those groupings of people.
Ok, so the obituary has all the names now what? Well that depends on what information you already have. In my case, I had the names of all the people listed in the obituary in the family tree. Those people were also already listed by the relationship stated in the obituary. I already had other records documenting each person and relationship.
What if I didn’t already have documents? What if most of the people in the obituary were “new” to me? Then I would begin to search for documents that prove the relationships. I would start by looking at census records and vital records. I would compare the information to other obituaries in the same family.
At this point maybe I have proven most of the people are who the obituary says they are. But there are some I cannot find a record for….yet. Maybe they were born between census years and I cannot find a vital record online. This would require me to search paper records. Maybe there are vital records online and I need to do a more thorough search and change the spelling of the last name to attempt to find a record. I would also visit the cemetery and try to locate a grave and other information. Most cemeteries keep good records so you may be able to find out who the owner of a plot is. If someone you have not yet identified through other sources is buried with the family you think they should be, then you have a clue.
Don’t always believe everything you find in a record, book, or newspaper article. Follow the paper trail to prove the people are who it says they are. If you are still unsure after searching, make a note in your research report to follow up at a later time.
Did you start writing a diary? Have you added any pictures to it? Nothing is off limits for how you design and write in your diary. Make it yours and let your personality shine.
Let’s talk about a few more Hidden Sources.
Are there any medical records lying around the house? What about baby books with your parents immunization records and illness records? Do you have a baby book with that information? My kids have baby scrapbooks and I recorded their immunizations in there. Thankfully they have not had any major illnesses. One of my kids had heart surgery when he was four months old. I have pictures of him in the hospital and a story about his surgery and stay.
Did your parents save their report cards? What do they look like compared to yours? What kinds of grades did your parents get? What were their favorite subjects?
Ask your parents if they saved any newspapers or news articles from important events in their lives. Events such as the astronauts landing on the moon, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, major events in their city or state, and articles about themselves.
This article is from the Chicago Daily Tribune and shows men who died during World War I from Chicago. The man in the left column, second down, is my great-grand uncle Michael Kokoska. I do not have the physical newspaper but was able to download the page from an online newspaper database through my library.
Be sure to check your library for online databases. You never know what you will find there. Most libraries offer access to a few major newspapers free to patrons.
Related to newspapers are obituaries. Obituaries are death notices in the newspaper. They usually contain the name of the person who died, the names of their living (and sometimes deceased) family members, where the funeral will be held and when, and where they will be buried. Obituaries can tell you a lot about your family.