Ohio Obituary Index

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Rutherford B. Hayes

Presidential Library & Museums

HPLM Inputting Instructions

Type in user name and password as given to you by the Hayes Presidential Center. User names are first letter of first name, plus last name, e.g. lhodkinson

** Set CAPS LOCK **
** Do NOT use periods or quote marks **

Entering Data:

1. First, search to see if the name is already in the database. Type in the person's last name and scan the list for a match. It's better not to use the first name in this search unless the surname is a common one like Miller, Smith, etc. If it is common, then you would need to use a first name or initial to reduce the number of hits. The basic search engine only searches exact spellings for the surname - you cannot truncate the name and find a match. In the first name field you can use just an initial, however. The Advanced Search allows for more open-ended searches, if necessary. Do not use middle names in the search; they are usually too specific. Another good way to search for an existing record is to type in the person's last name and the year of death - that brings up a fairly small list of matches. But some names do not have death years, so this should not be your only search method.

2. If you find a possible match: add to the existing name if the match is certain. The name and date should be the same. If there is a minor discrepancy in the names, but they are obviously the same person, add to existing record, e.g. John Malkmus (d. 1905) and Jno. Malkmos (d.1905). If in doubt, make a new record. With a common name, like John Miller, don t make any assumptions - add as new record, unless they match on several fields. It is better to have duplicate names in the database than to have citations added to the wrong person.

3. If the name is already in the database, check to see whether you can add further information to the Basic Information section. It is not necessary to fill in all the fields.

If there is some new information any you add it to the Basic Information section, then you must hit Update Record for that info to register. If you do not update after making a change, the change will not be saved and will not display in the database.

If the person is definitely the same one, but some of the existing details vary with your source (e.g. place of death, etc.) do not change what is already in the database. One of our rules is to go by the first data entered, unless it is obviously wrong. These discrepancies among sources can happen frequently, especially in the older newspapers. It is up to the researcher to compare the data they find with other records to determine the accuracy of the information.

If you feel strongly that you want to enter the discrepancies, then you can add the info. to the Notes field. Preface it with the abbreviation of the newspaper and the date where you found the info.

i.e. SR 4/4/1899 Age given is 67 [instead of 76]

Use tab to move from field to field (box to box).

4. If the person is not in database, click on Add new record. Fill in what you know for sure. If your library's existing index does not give the death date, just the obit date, use the year of the obit for the death year but do not guess at month and day. The year of death is important to sort out common names. The exception to this would be an obit which appeared on Jan 1 or 2. In that case, use the previous year. It is NOT necessary to fill in every field. Some of the fields (e.g. birth dates, nickname) have been added since the original database was set up by request of some libraries.  Again, it is not necessary to fill in every field.

It is important to remember to only add information that matches the field. For example, the last name field should only have a last name, the first name field should only have a first name, spouse last name is the surviving or most recent spouse last name, etc. If any information in the the obituary or other source is confusing or unclear, it is best not to include it. If you feel strongly it would help identify a person, include the confusing/unclear information in the Notes section.  Be sure to mention the source in your Notes comments.  

Parents' first name field. Use this to enter the parent's first name. Do not enter Mr, Mrs, the middle name, middle initial or nickname. If you feel strongly that you want to add the mother's maiden name, add it in the Notes field. If the source only has initials for the parents, it is acceptable to add two initials, i.e.  J H & P M

***5. Other Names: This field is used almost entirely for women's maiden names or surname from a previous marriage. This is an area many people get confused about - please read carefully. 

If the maiden name is known, add that to the Other Name field. Always enter the first name and middle name (or initial) exactly as it was entered in the basic information section. For women with two or more husbands: enter the most recent one as the spouse; add previous married surnames in Other Name field. Add the information in the Notes field - "First husband - Joe Schmitz."

For example, Jane Burke married John Jones, then Henry Jackson. She would be listed as Jane Jackson as the main entry, with two entries under Other Name - Jane Burke and Jane Jones. In the Notes field, "first husband - John Jones"  DO NOT ADD THE OTHER MARRIED SURNAME WITH THE HUSBAND'S FIRST NAME--DO NOT ENTER IT AS MRS JOHN JONES. Under the advanced search, you can search for any of her names and the record will display.

We do this with women because their surnames usually change with each husband. If your library feels strongly about adding additional wives' names, you can put them in the Notes field.

6. Nicknames - If the newspaper gives a nickname, add it to the Nickname field - e.g. Pug Miller for John Miller, but DO NOT use quotation marks even if the obit uses them - they throw off both the system's sorting and the shopping cart system. Do not add nicknames in any field other than the Nickname field.  If you feel strongly that it helps identify a spouse or parent, add the nickname in the Notes field.

7. Prefix/Suffix - Using this field is only necessary when no first name is available or when it significantly helps to identify a person. Ninety percent of the time you will not need to use it. It can be helpful when indexing old obits, but probably won t be needed when indexing current obits. When no first name is given, use the prefix/suffix field and drop-down menu to help identify the person:

For example:

Smith Mr (no first name in obit)
Miller Child
Miller Daughter
Miller Infant (obit says just "baby of Isaac Miller")
Miller Mrs

If a woman is only listed in the obit as Mrs. John Jones, enter her as Jones John Mrs (with John in first name field and Mrs as a title from the drop-down menu)

In the case of nuns, use the woman s full name if given. For Sister Mary Catherine Johnson:

Last name - Johnson
First name - Mary
Middle name - Catherine
Title field - Sister

If she is referred to as Sister Mary Catherine with no last name (there are very few of these) enter her as:

Last name - Sister
First name - Mary
Middle name - Catherine

Ordinarily do not use the prefix/suffix field when there is a first name, unless the name is a very common one, e.g. Smith John Rev (Rev helps identify one of many John Smiths). With a name like John Weiderhaus you would not need to add the prefix.

When using prefix/suffix, use the prefix/suffix that is part of the legal name.  For example, if the name is Dr. John Allen Harper Jr, use the JR suffix because that helps identify the person.  If you feel strongly that Dr. should be included, add it to the Notes field.

If the person is a JR, SR, use the prefix/suffix field. If he is a II, III, or IV, put it in the middle name field, after the middle name if there is one, with a comma.

8. Hyphenated Surnames - Enter hyphenated or double surnames under one of the names, and make an Other Name record for the other one, e.g. for Joan Metz-Kelly, Enter as METZ JOAN with Other Name KELLY JOAN. DO NOT type the double name in either place, but add it in a Note, e.g. Known as Joan Metz-Kelly.

9. Add newspaper source - Click on Add new record. Use the drop-down menu to choose the letter of the alphabet the newspaper starts with. Check to make sure the paper you clicked on is the one that comes up on the screen. If the newspaper you are entering is not on the list, notify Patricia Breno who will create a new listing. It will then automatically come up in the drop-down menu for newspapers.

10. Proofread your new entry, then click "close" to enter it in the database and go back to search screen to enter a new name.

11. To see the entry after you close it, you will have to search that name again or hit Reload or Refresh. The list that appears when you close your update windows will not show the new addition until it is reloaded. 

12. Other sources - if something other than a newspaper is indexed in the obits file (e.g. a card file of obit clippings, a scrapbook or wills or estates), this information should go in the Other Sources field. These are also listed in drop-down menus in a standardized format for this. Notify John Ransom or Patricia Breno if the source you wish to index is not on the list.

13. Notes field - This field is used to clarify the information entered above, such as multiple names of women. Some libraries may want to put some additional information that they have already indexed into this field and that is OK, but link it to a source so researchers know where the information was found.

Ex.: Fostoria Review - Buried Fountain Cemetery, Fostoria, OH

14. Delete buttons - Please only delete mistakes you have made yourself. If you find problems with information already in the database, send info to Patricia Breno via email and she will take care of it. 

15. Edit buttons - If you see you have made a mistake or find additional information, you can easily edit the entry. Be sure to click Update, to complete the change.

16. LOG OUT - Be sure to log out when finished, otherwise the next person on the computer may have administrative access to the database under YOUR name.

General Tips

Remember that this is an index to a source - that is, a newspaper or possibly a notebook or card file of obituaries. It is not a database of un-sourced facts about an individual. If a patron comes into the library and wants to update the entry for their grandfather, explain that it is an index to a source. All the info in the entry must come from that source (the obit).
We have a feature called "Comments" where people can add a note to an entry giving additional information on that person. This would be an option for those people who want to add new or different information.
Do not combine duplicate existing records that you see in the database. It is up to the researcher to check out all possible entries for the names they are searching.It is up to the researcher to check on names that might be duplicates, alternate spellings of names, etc. Enter only what the indexer has put on the obituary forms. That information should be based on what appears in the newspaper and not edited according to an individual's personal knowledge.

The program automatically forces most fields to all caps--if you find it doesn't, set CAPS LOCK on.

Do not use periods after initials, and do not use quotation marks for anything - they affect the system's sorting and may prevent an entry from appearing in the index. Quotation marks make some records impossible to order from the shopping cart.

Searching: If, when searching a name you KNOW is in there, it does not come up, go back to original search screen with blank fields and search again.

ACCURACY is of utmost importance. It is frustrating to the patron and the library staff to have a citation for an obit from the index and find that it is a blind lead because someone typed the wrong year or wrong month or chose the wrong source from the drop down menu. Please check over your work before you leave the entry. Remember that as soon as you finish a record, it goes up on the web and the public has access to it.
Thanks for being a part of this award-winning research tool.

John Ransom, Head Librarian, 419-332-2081 ext. 232 [email protected] 5/2019