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    How to Use Monica’s Death Notice Indexes

    Monica Schirmer Eshelman spends most of her day indexing St. Joseph, Missouri, newspapers using the free Google News Archive. As she completes each year, she sends them to me, I turn them into PDFs, and they’re uploaded to the Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society website and the Cousin Collector Media Library. She’s also started maintaining the Great and Powerful Index Index of all surnames in her yearly indexes, the latest being for the years 1845-1912. She’s working on 1913 now.

    As with most things, what’s clear to some is not so clear to others, and that seems to be the case with these indexes. Monica gets a lot of email from lost souls. 😀

    The death notices themselves are freely available from the Google News Archive. At the top of each index page is a list of the newspapers that were available for that year, and the naming conventions used for each newspaper. If you look at the index for 1912, for example, the title for the “St. Joseph Gazette” is plain, while the title for the “St. Joseph News-Press” is in italics.

    Armed with that information, you know you can find the notices for Gregor Achs in the Gazette on 7 July 1912 and in the News-Press on 8 July 1912; the notices for John Wilson Adams in the 16 July 1912 Gazette and the 15 July 1912 News-Press. Probably. 🙂

    When the Google Minions were scanning the newspapers, they did a pretty good job of categorizing them, but not always. Sometimes, there are two editions under one date, 12 July and 13 July together, for instance. Some of them aren’t under the correct newspaper name at all. And you can’t go by the page numbers that Google has assigned to each page, as those tend to have errors as well. So you still have to be creative to find some of these.

    Finally, while Google does provide a search capability, a la, don’t bother with it. It’s horrible. So how does Monica find these? She reads each page of each newspaper. Yes — each newspaper, page by page.

    Hopefully, this little tidbit will not only help you make better use of Monica’s indexes, it will also give you an idea of what goes into creating each one — a LOT of work! Enjoy! 🙂

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