The San Joaquin County Obituary Index Project

Some of the most tenacious people I know are genealogists. It’s not uncommon among genealogist friends of mine to take years searching patiently for biographical details that many of us more frail mortals might never try to find in the first place. But when they discover what they want, they have reason to celebrate.

A long-lost ancestor?

Starting next week, genealogists and other historical researchers will have one more reason to celebrate, thanks to the San Joaquin County Obituary Index Project. The San Joaquin County Historical Society Blog first announced this project on June 16, 2011. Its goal is to make available online an index of newspaper obituaries for the County from the 1850s to the 1990s that has existed for years on cards and microfilm.

The project represents a joint effort of the San Joaquin County Genealogical Society, the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library, and the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum in cooperation with IT specialists from San Joaquin County Delta College and FamilySearch.org.

When completed, researchers will be able to visit a Web site, enter a name into the computer, and get the newspaper citation for that person’s obituary—if one exists. Before that can happen, however, a computerized interface must be created and data from the microfilm version entered manually into an online database. According to officials at FamilySearch.org, that framework will be ready over the next few days, thus enabling data entry to begin.

Early next week, the project intends to start training a small army of volunteers that has already signed up. Afterward they can start work using their own computers in the comfort of their homes. The project welcomes participation by others who have not yet volunteered.

For information about volunteering, send me a message at the following e-mail address: leighjohnsen@sanjoaquinhistory.org.

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