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Spotlight: Obituary Indexes, Texas and Arkansas

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Assistant Editor

Burnet County Genealogical Society, Texas


Burnet County is located in the Texas Hill Country, in the central part of the state. Its county seat is Burnet. The Burnet County Genealogical Society has compiled and made obituary indexes for the period from 1876 through 1910 available online. This project is a work in progress, with more years being added as they are completed. The indexes are organized by year and are alphabetical by surname. The data fields in the index include the name of the deceased, age, city of residence / resident of, newspaper title, and the date of publication of the obituary. A check mark has been included in the publication date field if the genealogical society has a printed copy of the obituary in its collection.


McKinney Public Library, Texas


McKinney is located in northeastern Texas. It is the county seat of Collin County. The McKinney Public Library has made a number of vital record indexes available on its website. The files are in Microsoft Excel. The data has been extracted from local newspapers. There are two birth, engagement, and marriage indexes, covering the period from 1980 to 1989 and 1990 to 1991. The data fields include last name, first name, type of record, date of publication, and page number. There are four alphabetical obituary indexes. They cover 1884 to 1989, 1990 to 1999, 2000 to 2009, and 2010 on. The data fields for the earliest index are last name, first name, title, maiden name, newspaper, date(s), and page(s). For later databases the data fields include all of the above except for newspaper title.


Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Library, Arkansas


Pine Bluff, which is located in central Arkansas, is the county seat of Jefferson County. The Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Library has made an obituary database available on its website. They have indexed all deaths and obituaries in Jefferson County newspapers in the library’s collections. Records in the index date back to 1866. It should be noted that there are gaps in the collection to 1899. The database includes the following newspapers: Pine Bluff Commercial, Pine Bluff Graphic, Pine Bluff News, Pine Bluff Press-Eagle, and White Hall Journal, as well as some little-known publications such as The Pine Bluff Dispatch, The Negro Spokesman, The Jefferson Republican and The Weekly Echo. Obituaries from the Pine Bluff Commercial and the White Hall Journal continued to be added to the database as they are received.


This database is searchable by name (surname, full name, or even nickname) or by name and year. Up to 1,000 records will be displayed in the search results at a time. Data fields in the initial search results include name, date of the obituary, and the source. Click on the name link to access a record that also includes the page number on which the obituary appears. Click on the Request Photocopy link to learn how to obtain a copy of an obituary from the library for a fee.

Spotlight: Newspaper Databases, Alabama and Pennsylvania

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Valerie Beaudrault

Valerie Beaudrault
Visitor Services Representative

The Jacksonville Republican, Jacksonville, Alabama


Jacksonville is located in Calhoun County, which is in northeast Alabama. Jacksonville State University has made a historic newspaper database available on its website. The Jacksonville Republican is one of the oldest newspapers in northeast Alabama. It began as a weekly paper in January of 1837. The paper was published continuously between 1837 and 1904, with the exception of a month-long period at the end of the Civil War. The digital archive of Jacksonville State University’s Houston Cole Library includes the full range of newspapers from 1837 to December of 1895. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.


Click on The Jacksonville Republican link to access the digital collection. The first two PDF files in the list were digitized from a published index. The first gives a brief history of the collection and the second is an index to proper names. The index entries include “names, local events, state and national happenings, and local advertisements,” a few keywords to describe the article and its contents (obit, murdered, editorials, 3rd regiment, and so on), and the date on which the article appeared. The PDF files are organized by year, from most recent to earliest. Within each year the newspapers for each month are located in a single file. Click on the “PDF” link to open the files. You will have to scroll through the newspaper images to locate particular issues and articles.


Newspaper Indexes, Altoona, Pennsylvania


Altoona is located in Blair County, which is in central Pennsylvania. The Altoona Public Library has made two newspaper databases available on its website. Click on the database link to access the search page.


Obituary Index

The database indexes obituaries from the local newspaper, the Altoona Mirror, for the period from 1929 to the present. The index is searchable by last name, first name, and maiden name. The data fields include last name, first name, middle name, maiden name, descriptor, and the date or dates on which the obituary appeared in the newspaper. The descriptor field contains such information as the person’s title (Miss, Mrs., Mr.), nickname, and other descriptive information about the deceased. Once located in the database, photocopies of obituaries may be requested in writing from the library’s Reference Department for a small fee.


Birth Index

The Birth Index is a work in progress. The database contains birth notices from the Altoona Mirror. It may be searched by the child's first or last name, mother's first name, maiden name or married name, father's first name or last name, and date of birth. The data fields in the search results include child’s full name, father’s full name, mother’s full married name plus her maiden name, if known, child’s date of birth, and the date on which the birth was announced in the newspaper. If the child is not named, the words son or daughter appear in the first name field.

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