Hayes Presidential Library’s Obituary Index
Started in the 1970's on cards, the obituary card file indexed death notices and some marriage notices from local newspapers. The earliest Fremont, Ohio newspapers were from the 1830’s and have been completed for obituaries up to the current day. In 1986, a computer program was set up to handle this index and in the 1990’s, a grant from the Clyde Public Library made it possible for the Hayes Center to merge the old card system with the computer database.
From about 50,000 cards in the old card catalog, the index has grown to almost 3,000,000 entries in 2013. It is unique to most obituary indexes that are available elsewhere in that it is cross-indexed by maiden names and previous married names when given in the obituary and is searchable by a variety of methods. It is indeed a powerful index to local names.
The Library cannot guarantee every reference will be full of good information or even unique information. When our staff and volunteers indexed the obituaries they were told to include any reference to a person, thinking a genealogist would want everything they could find about their ancestor. Sometimes that means that an obit reference is just a one-liner saying the person died or a marriage notice.
The Library staff cannot look up several references and send you the best one for the price of one. The fee covers the time it takes to look up one article, printing it and mailing it.
The original index was compiled by Hayes Library Staff and a small army of volunteers who have read the original newspapers, in hard copy or microfilm, and listed the deaths and then input them into the computer system. The time spent on this superb reference tool should not be measured in hours, but years. We have attempted to list all the volunteers who have worked on the project at Hayes over the 30 past years. See below for list. If you know of someone who helped and is not listed, please contact email@example.com
Starting in 2001, other libraries started entering their data into this index, so it now extends beyond the holdings of the Hayes Presidential Library.
In very general terms, in 2001, the index began with newspapers covering the following Ohio towns: Fremont and Clyde – almost complete coverage from the 1840’s to the present; Sandusky, Bellevue, Tiffin – very long runs of indexing, Risingsun, Woodville, Gibsonburg, Oak Harbor – sporadic sections of indexing
The vast majority of the indexing was for Sandusky County, but other counties which appear include Erie, Ottawa, Seneca, Huron, and Wood counties.
In October 2001, entry began of names from the Tiffin Seneca Public Library obituary card catalog. This project was finished in 2004 and added over 100,000 names and newspaper citations to the obituary index.
In August 2003, the Northwest Ohio Library District (NORWELD) made it possible for 12 of its member libraries to join the Hayes Presidential Center and enter their obituary citations into the Obituary Index making this a truly regional resource. As these libraries enter their data, the scope and quantity of the index grows.
Since 2003, many other libraries throughout the state have joined the partnership, bringing the total to 49 libraries in May 2011. See the map on the top page of the web site for all the partner libraries. Funding for some of the libraries has been provided by Northwest Ohio Library District (NORWELD) and a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, awarded by the State Library of Ohio
This database contains about 90% newspaper citations and about 10% other sources. Obituaries is a term used loosely for death notices - some may be lengthy articles, some may be brief one line notices.
Some marriage notices, especially from the Fremont Courier, have been indexed. However, only a small percentage of the marriages have been indexed - do not use this index as your only search for a marriage.
Besides obituaries, a variety of other sources have been indexed into this database.
Examples of these other sources are probate case files, funeral home records, society membership records, biographical files, brief references in history books, etc. Hayes cannot set a standard fee for copying these items because they can range from one page to fifty or more. If the item is located at the Hayes Presidential Library, contact the library staff (419-332-2081) or [email protected]) to find out what is available on your individual. In general, our research fee for this material is $15.00 an hour plus photocopying costs. If the item is located at another library, please contact that library directly.
This resource is an index to a source - usually a newspaper obituary. If the names and dates are not what you know personally to be true, the library cannot change the original source (the newspaper) to reflect that. If you have seen the newspaper source and the information in our index does not match what is in the paper, then we can correct the index. We will do this only if you send us a copy of the paper article showing the discrepancy. Thanks for your help in making this index as accurate as possible. You may add a Post-em note to the entry with your comments and corrections, however.
Explanation of Headings
Names were copied exactly as written in the newspapers so researchers should check all possible spellings. Sometimes two completely different spellings were given in two different papers but it is obvious they are the same person. We have made a few cross references to alternate names, but it is up to the researcher to check all variants. We do not correct mistakes made in the newspapers.
Maiden names are indexed if they appeared in the obituary, along with names for women who married more than once.
Age at death is listed, if known. Not all entries are deaths, however, so there are many entries with no age given.
City or place of death is given. Sometimes a person resided in this area, but died in another town or state, so the place of death is not necessarily the place where the person resided.
Date of death is given. There are many entries with no death dates and that might signify that the entry is not an obituary. There are thousands of marriage announcements from the newspapers that have been indexed, along with a variety of other sources that do not include a death date, such as wedding anniversaries. Marriage dates are given only when the newspaper citation is for a wedding announcement.
Additional headings (such as father's name, spouse's name, marriage date):
If these fields are not filled in, there may still be information in the actual obituary. Over the 30 years of indexing, not all indexers put in all possible data. With the partnership with various libraries, many fields were not filled in because indexers were working from an existing index instead of the actual newspapers. To be thorough, a researcher should check the actual obituary for complete data.
Interim Head Librarian
Hayes Presidential Library & Museums