16 October 2009

The Importance of a Good Obituary

One of my duties in the local history room is to copy vitals from the local paper for entry into our databases and for saving in notebooks in our room. We have shelves and shelves of big notebooks with copies of obituaries, birth announcements, weddings, and anniversaries from the local newspaper. The web site for our local history room (see sidebar) has a brief summary of the names and info available. After making the copies, I enter the data in an unending process. We have most of the early years fairly complete, the 1920’s, 19-teens. But many of the middle years are pretty sparse, as the only entries may be copies that were donated.
Fear not, we will get to them. Someday at least. I only work 15 hours a week, and sometimes other jobs that take priority.
But someday, there will be some genealogists who get very excited to find a hit on the database, only to be be greatly disappointed. There are many obituaries that do not list date of birth or even death date, only saying the age (maybe), or say died recently. Arugh!!! Then there are the ones who list everyone person the deceased ever came in contact with as surviving, and others who list no one. I’ve seen others showing survivors who may be their pets, or significant other. I can just imagine the confusion that is going to send their descendants into.
A newer trend is cremation, apparently. Many obits do not give a place of internment, but neither do they state if cremated. How sad that their family will have no cemetery to visit.
OK, we may be a bit prejudiced about that one, but still!
So, I think that an upcoming posting must dwell on how to write a good obituary.

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