14 June 2011

Neel: Welcome to the Dead People's Society

That was the provocative title of the talk given by Tom Neel at the annual dinner of the Cuyahoga Valley Genealogical Society last evening (Monday, 13 Jun, 2011). Neel is the library director of the Ohio Genealogical Society, and he was sharing some of the fruits of his many years of research into the death records of his ancestors.

Of course, he talked about the usual sources of death information: death certificates, family bibles, newspaper reports and obituaries, probate records, funeral memory booklets and cards, military records and pension applications, and deeds. 

But he also talked about some unusual sources of death information: Mortality schedules compiled in conjunction with the censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 that survive for many areas of Ohio; physicians' journals; letters from and about the deceased; coroner's inquest files, insurance and worker compensation claims, newspaper reports about legal actions following a death, guardianships, hospital records, and burial flag applications.

For many people, it probably would have been a boring presentation, but for a roomful of genealogists, it was very much a "lively" topic. I know I got some ideas of where to look for more information about my ancestors.

After the presentation, OGS Trustee Margaret Chaney conducted a swearing-in ceremony for the new CVGS officers: Ron Kraine, president; Frances Pickett, vice president; Paula Berghauser, recording secretary; Barbara Schworm, corresponding secretary; and Ruth Pawlowski, treasurer. Donald Kozlowski is immediate past president.

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