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Not What I Expected From an Obituary

Last week I wrote about a new source I had discovered, the Ohio obituary index published by the Rutherford B. Hayes library. I searched online for members of my Dunbar family who had lived in Ohio beginning in the early 1830’s. There I found a listing for my great-great grandmother’s sister, Rebecca Dunbar. The index referenced her 1874 obituary in the Akron Daily Beacon.

This week I contacted the Akron library via e-mail to secure a copy of this obituary. They responded the same day with an electronic copy of the article I wanted. I love this superb service available from libraries around the country.

Unfortunately, the article turned out to be simply a death notice, not an obituary. To me, an obituary contains some biographical information.

This article had no family information. It stated only that Miss Rebecca Dunbar had passed away on December 30, 1873 in Stow. Interestingly, it offered her cause of death as inflammation of the bowels. I already had most of this information from other secondary sources.

I believe that anyone using this source should know that calling it an “obituary index” is something of a misnomer. Particularly for 19th-century entries, the article likely will be a short death notice instead of an obituary detailing the person’s life and family. Valuable information, but not complete information.

One Response to “Not What I Expected From an Obituary”

  • I think those terms: death notice & obituary are often clumped together, not just in the Ohio index. I agree that they should be listed a two very different items.

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