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Obituaries & Memorials ConnectionS, Concoctions, Embellishments & Errors! Kim Marie Fischer Peters © 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Obituaries & Memorials ConnectionS, Concoctions, Embellishments & Errors! Kim Marie Fischer Peters © 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Obituaries & Memorials ConnectionS, Concoctions, Embellishments & Errors! Kim Marie Fischer Peters © 2009

2 Obituaries & Memorials Obituaries, funeral notices, death notices, and memorials differ in content but have the same purpose... to chronicle the passing of a loved one and honor their life – no matter if measured in decades or in hours.

3  Newspapers began promoting the publication of obituaries in the late 1800s.  Memorials and Obituaries were placed throughout the paper as space permitted.  Obituaries and Funeral Notices gained popularity in the early 1900s and were grouped together.  Death Notices are still usually free but Obituaries and Memorials are usually considered classified advertisements. NOTE: Mrs. OWEN Travers Obituaries & Memorials Savannah Morning News, Sunday March 17 and Monday March 18, 1912 Funeral Notice and Obituary found using death date on tombstone.

4 Obituaries & Memorials Funeral Notices or Invitations  Usually include the name and age of the deceased.  Announce wakes, funerals, and burials.  May appear in the newspaper’s evening edition the day of death as burials often took place from the home the next day. Savannah Morning News, Thursday, 1 September 1910 Funeral Invitation found using death date on tombstone.

5 Obituaries & Memorials Death Notices  Usually one or two lines.  Include the deceased’s name and age.  Include name of funeral home or crematory.  Usually appear a day or two after death.  Usually free. Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, 20 November 2005, pg. B6 Death Notice found using Orlando Sentinel database at

6 Obituaries & Memorials Obituaries  Usually include biographical information.  Usually identify family members.  Usually include funeral and burial information.  Usually placed in local and hometown papers.  May include a photo.  Are now considered to be classified ads. Orlando Sentinel, Monday, 21 November 2005, pg. B4 Obituary from microfilm located using OCLS obituary index (1949-present)

7 Obituaries & Memorials News Articles  Highlight the death of an individual of interest to the community at large.  Composed by newspaper writer.  May include biographical information.  May include a photo. Orlando Sentinel, Tuesday, 22 November 2006, pg. B6 Feature story found using ProQuest Orlando Sentinel database at

8 Obituaries & Memorials Memorials  Usually composed by friends or family.  Usually appear at death or on an anniversary of the death.  May include a photo.  Often employ emotional and flowery language.  May include omissions and embellishments. Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, 10 November 2006, pg. B7 Memorial found searching Orlando Sentinel microfilm one year after date of death.

9  Identify family→proves relations  Maiden names→birth records  Place and date of birth→parents  Cemeteries→other family members  Religious affiliations→Church records  Military service records  Wills, probate, and property records Why Search For Obituaries? For the clues they provide and where they lead! Adaran Travers

10 Locating An Obituary – The Basics 1. Name, date, place of death. 2. Identify and locate newspapers published at the time of death. 3. Check for online obit index. 4. Request a copy direct, via interlibrary loan or lookup volunteer. Live Oak Public Libraries: Savannah Morning News Online Obituary Index Fischer, John F : 11/29/1923, section A, page 2, column 1. Fischer, John F : 11/29/1923, section A, page 5, column 2.

11 Identify newspapers in print at the time and place of death – including ethnic and religious denomination newspapers.  Check city directory or local library.  American Newspapers 1821-1936: A union list of files in the United States and Canada. RG 016.07 Ame  Search newspaper online databases like Proquest Southeastern Regional Newstand. Check availability at Borrow microfilm or request a copy of obit via lookup volunteer or from library. Locating Newspapers

12 Resource Timeline 1790→ Military pension files, census records, probate records, church records, cemetery surveys, vital records, tax digests, property records + 1800→ City directories and newspaper transcriptions + 1850-1880→Mortality schedules + 1900→ State death indexes + 1962→ Social Security Death Index + 1990s→ Online newspaper and obituary databases Date & Place of Death 1700s 1962 Rural Area 1990 Big City 1800s 1900s Small Town To find date and place of death, you need to know when and where your ancestor died!

13 Locating Date & Place of Death Free Online Resources From Home Social Security Death Index (1962 forward) Census, pension files, Freedman’s, directories – Heritage Quest Links to online death indexes – Obituaries and articles – Library Newspaper Databases, Cemetery transcriptions –, City Directories – Heritage Quest, State and local digital collections – death certificates, funeral home records, city directories, etc. – digitized records, International Genealogoical Index, ancestral files, etc. – follow link to state vital records office

14 Social Security Death Index - Rootsweb  SSDI – 1962 forward. Does not contain all deaths.  FREE access at  Read search tips and take tutorial. Karam Gannam died in 1980. SSDI - no match on his name. Broad search with last name only returned results.

15 Social Security Death Index - Rootsweb H Gannam is actually Karam Gannam. Add “Post-em” with correction. Generate letter to request copy of original application.

16 Social Security Death Index - Application POST-EM: Posted by: Kim Marie Peters The person listed is my Great Grandfather. His initial is not H. According to his Social Security application, his name is Karam George Gannam. His death certificate says his year of birth is 1880; his marriage license states it is 1886, a passenger list states it is 1885.

17 Social Security Death Index - Rootsweb Karam died in 1980 – He is not currently included in online obituary or historical newspaper databases. His son Michael Gannam, died in 2003 and he is listed in several online databases.

18 Online Obituaries - Search Obituaries using name and death year from SSDI. The first 20 words of obituary are displayed for verification. Access to the entire obituary available for a small fee.

19 Online Obituaries – Newsbank Southeast Region Newspapers –  SSDI shows Michael Gannam died 10 June 2003 in Savannah, GA.  Search his name and limit Date to June 2003  To find all mentions do not limit Dates.

20 Newsbank Southeast Region Newspapers Note: Some newspapers treat obituaries or funeral notices as classified ads. Sometimes they are not included in the Newsbank database.

21 Newsbank Southeast Region Newspapers OBITUARIES Savannah Morning News (GA) - Thursday, June 12, 2003 Michael J. Gannam, 80, died Tuesday, June 10, 2003. He was born in Savannah to Karam and Annie Gannam and was a communicant of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Mr. Gannam graduated from Benedictine Military School in 1941 and served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. He attended Armstrong Junior College and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia in 1948. He was the senior partner in the law firm of Gannam & Gannam, LLP. Mr. Gannam taught business law, political science and history at Armstrong State College from 1951 to 1962. He was active in his community serving on many boards and with community organizations, including the Historic Savannah Foundation, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Savannah Arts Commission, the Savannah Council of World Affairs, and the Gilmer Lecture Series Fund. Mr. Gannam was a former president of the Savannah Bar Association and served on the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia from 1968 to 1999. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marion DeFrank Gannam; four children, James Gannam and Cynthia Heitger, Ann Gannam and Dan Gourde, Elizabeth and Ron Jorde, and Joe Gannam and Melanie Marks; and three grandchildren, Joshua, Nathan, and Joseph Gannam. The family will receive friends from 5:00-7:00 p.m., Thursday, June 12 at the residence. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m., Friday, June 13 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Burial: Bonaventure Cemetery. Remembrances: In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to Armstrong Atlantic State University, Michael J. and Marion DeFrank Gannam Scholarship Fund, 11935 Abercorn Street, Savannah, Georgia 31419. Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors Hodgson Chapel Obit includes family members, military service, religion, education, civic associations, and professional info.

22 Locating Date and Place of Death Orlando Public Library State death indexes – fiche and Ancestry Historical newspapers – microfilm Ancestry Library Edition – Census, Directories, Historical Newspapers, Military Records, SSDI and Death Records Cemetery surveys, obituary and death notices, bible transcriptions – books and genealogy periodicals Directories: Pre-1860 City Directories, 1890 census substitutes, Orlando area City Directories or Telephone Directories from1887 to present 1700+ family histories

23 Ancestry Library Edition  Ancestry includes state death indexes and the Social Security Death Index.  Death information may also be found in City Directory, Obituary, digitized book and Historical Newspaper collections.

24 Death Date - Death Indexes  Search entire collection by name and state.  Remember obituary may appear in other towns or states.

25 Death Indexes Check all possible matches. Errors abound so compare results! Note Errors SSDI – Name GADI – Age Note Death Info SSDI – month/year GADI – actual date

26 Savannah Morning News - Article  Karam Gannam is probably 98 not 100.  Daughter’s name is misspelled. Savannah Morning News, 29 Nov. 1980, pgs. 1B, 6B. Ordered via email directly from Live Oak Library on Bull Street in Savannah.

27 Death Date - City Directory Webb’s 1896 Jacksonville Directory states Ben Upton died 19 November 1895. This led to Ben’s obituary. Ben’s obit led to the family cemetery in Baldwin, Florida. Times Union, Jacksonville, Florida, 20 November 1895

28 Death Date – Tombstone Adaran Upton’s tombstone indicates she died June 14 th 1891. A lengthy memorial in the Times Union states she died on June 13th. Times Union, Jacksonville, Florida, 19 June 1891.

29  1885 Florida State Census of Duval County shows widow Eliza Ivey with a two year old child, indicating her husband died after 1882.  Family stories stated Eliza’s husband Milton committed suicide after Christmas.  An account of Milton’s suicide was found by searching the 1882, 1883 & 1884 Times Union December & January newspapers. Times Union, Jacksonville, Florida, Tuesday, 15 January 1884. Death Date - Census Records

30 Concoction or Error ?  George K. Gannam died 7 December 1941 at Pearl Harbor.  George was born in Manchester, NH on 24 October 1919.  He moved with his family to Savannah, GA around 1922, attended Sacred Heart Catholic School and Benedictine Academy. Manchester Union, Manchester, New Hampshire, December 1941

31 This information is accurate. Concoction or Error ? Savannah Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, 11 December 1941

32 Obituaries & Memorials - Recap  Identify date and place of death.  Identify newspaper and locate microfilm or digitized online.  Request photocopy via lookup volunteer or interlibrary loan.  Use the clues you find to locate additional family members and documents.  Visit the cemetery or find a survey; locate more ancestors and start all over again! Grave markers of Duval County, Florida, 1808-1916, Upton Cemetery. RG 975.912 Edw

33 Chronicle the passing of a loved one and pay tribute to their life. Lead to death certificates, probate records, cemetery plots, birth certificates, property records and more. Provide clues to find family members, military service, immigration, and church records. Can help make ConnectionS but may contain Concoctions, Embellishments & Errors ! Obituaries & Memorials... **Refer to Obituaries & Memorials notes for suggested publications, websites and databases**

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