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Genealogy Research For Reunion Presentation - Remember Obituaries

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  • Mark Askew
    While doing research for genealogy presentation you do want to remember making use of archived obituaries in newspapers. Many date as far back as the late
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2005
      While doing research for genealogy presentation you do want to
      remember making use of archived obituaries in newspapers. Many date
      as far back as the late 1800's. This has led to interesting

      What is the history of obituaries?
      Are obituaries a primary source?

      As told by Alan E. Mann, Senior Consultant, British Reference,
      Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT... Gentlemen's Magazine
      started publishing short death notices in 1731 in England. The idea
      was that the gentry would appreciate "intelligence" about their own
      kind. While they published articles about flora and fauna as well as
      battles in the far corners of the British Empire, one of their
      consistent popular features was birth, death, and marriage notices
      of the privileged class and other notorious or interesting
      individuals. The original title of the magazine was "The Monthly
      Intelligencer." It continued with several pages of such notices each
      month until 1860. This is the earliest I've seen for a regular
      publication with information similar to an obituary for a large
      number of individuals."

      Chad Leinaweaver Director for the Library The New Jersey Historical
      Society 52 Park Place Newark, NJ 07102 introduced the question to
      the web public in 2002 adding "but true obituaries listing next of
      kin, place of burial, where the service will beheld, deceased's
      occupation and activity in civic and cultural groups, etc. for
      us common folk, seem to appear in newspapers about 1875-1900,

      What is the earliest dated obituary in your research?

      Mary Harris of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta, NY says "When
      did humans start immortalizing others of the species in print,
      that type of thing? Would I be safe in saying since the time of
      Ancient Egypt?" I would think.

      Are obituaries a primary source?

      Why shouldn't they be? Documented data on the life and times of an
      individual does oftem come with out a degree of research expertise
      and professionalism. Note this point from The Daily Camera "But a
      growing number of editors have recognized the popularity of
      obituaries and are assigning accomplished feature writers to prepare
      them. Some writers tackle the job with flair and style, viewing
      today's obituary as "creative nonfiction."

      "Richly written obituaries are a journalism art from the 1880s that
      have again blossomed," said Nigel Starck, a journalism professor
      from the University of South Australia who has researched the
      history of obituaries and was the keynote speaker here. "The
      obituary is the finest form of journalism — it's investigative,
      requires accuracy and is written by an absolutely inquisitive person
      with a mix of candor and elegance so that it is rewarding to both
      the writer and the reader."

      The popularity of such stories was proved again by The New York
      Times, which was lauded widely for publishing more than 1,800
      capsule profiles of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
      The effort contributed to the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the
      newspaper this spring.

      New York obituary writer Steve Miller — who escaped from one of the
      World Trade Center towers moments before it collapsed — read several
      of the profiles on Saturday, holding back tears. The stories, he
      said, "raised my consciousness that everyone is precious."

      Read more at the discussion forum...

      Tutorial, tips and tools for family reunion planning.
      This time don't miss a single thing.
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