Become a Partner in the Ohio Obituary Index
Becky Hill, Head Librarian
The Hayes Presidential Center (HPC) has created an online resource that allows people to use the internet to find their ancestor’s obituary and then either send for it or visit the library. The Ohio Obituary Index (www.rbhayes.org/index) is rooted in library cooperation, receiving the financial help of nearby public libraries for the development of the program in 1999 and grants from Northwest Ohio Library District (NORWELD) and LSTA to add more libraries from 2003-2009. It includes 49 libraries extending from Northwest Ohio to the whole state, from Defiance to Marietta. For a list of partner libraries see http://index.rbhayes.org/hayes/index/display.asp?id=619&subj=index
We offer the program to any library in Ohio. If your library joined, it would publicize your holdings, expand the coverage of the index, link your holdings with HPC’s holdings and provide more data to the public. The new library participants would share in and add to a resource which currently has almost 2,000,000 indexed names and indexed sources (obituaries, marriages, wills, estates), a proven track record, and an established web presence. The web site won the 2003 Technology Excellence Award given by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In Jan. 2010, our data was duplicated on Ancestry.com and our web presence increased exponentially. Once an ancestor is found on Ancestry the user is directed to our website where they then find out how to order the obit. In 2011, our data was also duplicated on Archives.com which also increased our exposure and orders.
Each library pays a one-time fee of $1500 charged by HPC to become part of the network, plus an annual $200 maintenance fee, for a total of $1700. After the first year, the libraries would only be required to pay the $200 fee for web site maintenance and phone and email support for the inputting staff. To help finance the one-time fee, many partner libraries have received financial help from local genealogical or historical societies, special bequests from individuals for historical/genealogical purposes or other donations which require a specific project.
Participating libraries will provide:
· Staff or trained volunteers to input current obituaries and/or older files of obits. Inputters will be given user names and passwords so they can access the web-based database;
· Names of newspapers they will be indexing, which will be given codes for inputting by HPC;
· Financial support to help the Hayes Center continue this free-to-the-public online service.
HPC will provide:
· Access to the online obituary database;
· Training sessions for the new inputting staff (about 2 hours) at HPC, showing how to input obits or Becky Hill will come to their library to train if travel expenses are covered.
· Technical support for new inputters to assure quality control and standardized data;
· Forms which can be modified for use in indexing obits;
· Guest passes and tours for each trainee to the Hayes Home, Museum and Library which has extensive holdings in nineteenth century historical material, including the Civil War, U.S. presidency, genealogy and Ohio local history;
· Statistics on the number of obituaries entered by each library’s staff.
If your library has an existing computer file of obituaries, our internet provider, WGTE Public Broadcasting of Toledo, will examine your file and give you a quote for the cost to merge your data into the Obit Index. Contact information will be provided if you are interested in this service.
The online obituary index has greatly expanded access to the partner libraries’ collections. Once internet users find what we have here at Hayes, they either order the obituaries (over 40,000 since 2000) or plan a trip here. The obituary index piques their interest; then they discover we have much more than just newspaper obituaries, e.g. books, manuscripts, census records, etc. Other libraries have found a similar substantial upswing in usage of their collections. Libraries can charge whatever they like to fulfill obituary orders which will create a new revenue stream.
On a closing note, let one user of the Hayes Obituary Index speak for us:
“Your online obituary index is a real model for other libraries and collections, providing access to references that would have been extremely difficult to research before, and easy access to copies, all from the researcher’s living room. I have never seen one as thorough or as easy to use” Dave Davisson, Columbus, OH.
For further information on becoming a partner in the Hayes Obituary Index, contact
Hayes Presidential Center
Fremont, OH 43420