Friday, December 28, 2007

Yikes! Be careful of what you go looking for!

As if I didn't have anything else to do today. . . prompted by Miriam's Christmas Surprise and Craig's Important Genealogical Tip, I went looking for obituaries at the website of the Elkhart Public Library. They are continually updating their Index to Obituaries in the Elkhart Truth, currently including 1921-1950 and 1965 to the present. They have added 25 years worth since the last time I checked, a year or so ago. There are several extended family lines that I'm working on in Elkhart County. This afternoon I spent several hours inputting names from my database and found the dates for the obituaries for 101 relatives in five of those family lines! I won't know for sure that they are all related until I get copies of the obituary notices, but based on the information that I have, I think most of them will be.

  • Berlin - 38 - descendants of my 3rd Great Grandparents John D. and Susannah Hoffman Berlin
  • Phend - 4 - descendants of my 2nd Great Grandparents Jacob and Louisa Fisher Phend
  • Stem(m) - 34 - descendants of Lewis and Susan Sevits Stem (Lewis is a brother of my 3rd Great Grandmother Malissa Stem Wise and they were children of Conrad and Indiana Sisley Stem)
  • Walter(s) - 16 - descendants of George and Katherine Fisher and Sophia Fisher (Katherine and Sophia were sisters of Louisa Fisher Phend)
  • Yarian - 9 - descendants of my 2nd Great Grandparents Eli and Lovina Berlin Yarian

The Elkhart Library will make copies "on a first-come, first-served, as-time-permits basis" at cost (15¢ per copy, plus postage) but I wonder how they'd feel about a request for that many obituaries. It's only about an hours drive for me so I'll probably do it myself one of these days. Hmm, allowing for a minimum of 5 minutes to look up each obituary, it would take about 9 hours. Realistically, even though the date of the newspaper and page number is provided in the index, it will probably take longer.

What would you do with that many lookups? Do them yourself or contact the library to see if they would do them?


Jasia said...

Oh what a wonderful dilemma to have! I'd go in person to photograph the obits but I'd take along a friend who also owns a digital camera... and plan to buy them lunch. With two people working the list it will get done in half the time. If there's anything that doesn't get done in that one trip I'd pay the librarians to finish up.

Lori Thornton said...

As a librarian, I can say that if you were to request obits by mail that we'd probably prefer for you to limit it to about 10 at a time.

Since you live only an hour or so away, it's definitely best to at least start out with a visit of your own to get as many as possible. Depending on how many are remaining after the first visit, I'd either plan a second visit or get the library to finish your list.