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Index obituaries with multiple entries

edited October 11 in Indexing

I am indexing some obituaries that are listed as having one image, but there are multiple obituaries on that image. How do I index that?


  • John EmpolitiJohn Empoliti ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 11

    You index them one obituary at a time, top to bottom, left to right. You make a "Deceased" Entry for the main person in each obituary, and then "Other" Entries for each person in the obituary, indexing their relationship to the deceased (or enter Nonrelative if no relationship is mentioned - even if they have the same last name). Don't forget the person(s) officiating at the ceremony, pallbearers, singers, etc. Then you move to the next obituary, etc.

    You are provided with 20 blank entries per image. If you use up all 20. you can add blank entries as you need them. There will be an option to add another entry when you finish with the 20th one. If you want to add several or many at a time you can use the Plus Sign (+) icon in the middle of the horizontal toolbar. If you don't need all 20 then you should delete the extras using the trashcan icon (sitting just right of the + icon) with the option "all blank entries," and click "Delete." If you've added a bunch at a time using the + icon and wind up not needing all of them, you can use the trashcan icon to delete them.

  • Thanks for this questions as I have had the same question. I also wondered how to index multiple documents. IE. what order left to right ore up and down columns. As I review I have seen people do it both ways. I have also seen people mentioned who have preceded in death the main person they listed them as a new deceased person. It was very comfusing. Should I have deleted these extra deceased entries?

  • Melissa S HimesMelissa S Himes ✭✭✭✭✭

    Stacy posted the question as a separate thread. But, just to make sure the questions are answered:

    The order of indexing the obits doesn't really matter, although it would be great if everyone followed the same pattern. As reviewers, sometimes we have to put the pieces together to figure out what order the previous indexer/reviewer chose!

    You should have deleted the extra deceased entries. We only create a deceased record for the person whom the obituary is about. The family members that predecease them will only have "Other" entries per the project instructions:

    • Do not create additional deceased records for deceased relatives. Only the deceased for which the obituary is about should be indexed using the Deceased entry type. All other relatives, surviving or deceased, should be indexed using the Other entry type.

  • John EmpolitiJohn Empoliti ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks, Mellissa.

    Yes, technically, the order doesn't matter to the search engine. Still, I don't particularly appreciate trying to unravel a multiple-obituary batch indexed out of the recommended order (top to bottom, then left to right). Yes, it is part of the Reviewer's job to unravel it, but it is also the Indexer's job to follow the recommended order.

    I'm trying to develop a reasonable way to create a QC report as a general guide for checking upfront (or checking afterward) the indexing layout for this type of multi-obit batch or any obituary. I am making some progress.

    Alternatively, a modified Table Mode (truncated for the "Deceased" entries) would be helpful to see the overall pattern of the indexing and guide the reviewing, as my QC report would do. These QC tools would help both the Indexer and Reviewer.

    I have suggested both of these aids for indexing/reviewing obituaries (QC preview/report and modified Table Mode), but sadly, we still only have Form Entry mode.

  • I'm relatively new to indexing and reviewing and thought I'd do some obituaries. In the "old days" I would transcribe obituaries for various genealogy web sites.

    So I opened a batch, read the instructions and panicked! Sorry to say I had to return the batch. Indexing an obituary isn't as straight forward as I thought it would be, especially when there are multiple obituaries on a single page. Maybe after more time indexing other projects I'll get the guts to do some obituaries. I guess my fear is that I'll mess up a posting by not getting all the other people mentioned correctly recorded.

    BTW I just check some completed obituaries. Many just posted the deceased person and none of the other names in the obituary.

    If you're an experienced obituary indexer, do you have any tips for a beginner?

    Thanks, John

  • John EmpolitiJohn Empoliti ✭✭✭✭

    HI John

    First of all, after studying and understanding all the project instructions definitely look at these references:

    As far as dealing with multiple obituaries on the same image, you index them one obituary at a time, top to bottom, left to right. You make a "Deceased" Entry for the main person in each obituary, and then "Other" Entries for each person in the obituary, indexing their relationship to the deceased (or enter Nonrelative if no relationship is mentioned - even if they have the same last name). Don't forget the person(s) officiating at the ceremony, pallbearers, singers, etc. Then you move to the next obituary, etc. You add Entries as you need to or delete the unneeded ones.

    Watch out for relationships and genders, maiden names. Don't assume genders from names.

    Some obituaries have multiple deceased (e.g., because of a car accident). Those are handled differently.

    From the Minnesota Douglas County Obituaries, What to Remember section is a pertinent citation:

    An exception to this would be if an obituary was about multiple individuals who had died. In this case, index the first deceased person and all their relatives, then the next deceased person and all their relatives and so on.

    But this doesn't say everything. Below is a link (I hope) to a discussion on this topic where @Melissa S Himes lays out in detail how we used to handle these in the 2014 period when we were saturated with obituaries. The actual article on this is not available anymore:

  • Melissa S HimesMelissa S Himes ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi@John W. O'Brien . I guess I am an experienced indexer/reviewer of obits. I started indexing them in 2013 and worked on them solely for about two years, getting around 200,000 records out of them. They were the first project I indexed and I was addicted to obituary indexing!

    There is a problem with indexers only entering the deceased and not creating records for all the "Others" on the list! I have sent numerous batches back for reindexing.

    My first tip for beginners - Begin by forgetting everything you know about naming patterns and relationships when you index obituaries. I, like you, thought Obit indexing was going to be so easy. My first indexed batches of obits were returned with 3%, 8%, and 16% agreement by the arbitrators. That was back when we still saw our results. I was devastated. How could I be so wrong? What didn't I understand about indexing?

    Then I found the General Indexing Guidelines and realized there is more to indexing than there was to reviewing medical charts for research projects. 😅 The next thing I found was a 52 page PDF on how to index obituaries for FamilySearch. That PDF has been erased from existence across the internet. That PDF was reduced to 44 pages, and later to the 1 page handout that you see today. Crazy...

    So, why do I say to forget everything you know? I took a new approach to indexing that day. Follow the instructions and pretend that you are from an alien planet and have no knowledge of the composition of family units or given and surnames used on Planet Earth. Your mission is to extract, EXACTLY what you see on the paper. If the obit doesn't provide any indication of a relationship, like wife, husband, child, son, daughter, grandchild, etc. They are non-relatives even if they have the same surname. If they don't have surname attached to their names, like "sons, Bill, Dave, Tom" we don't write a surname. If they don't list a gender specific word, like mother or father, or mr or mrs, they are parents.

    The second thing I suggest for beginners is to read the obit first and then index the names. (Do this for a while until you become accustom to the way the papers wrote the obits). Then go back and begin indexing. And keep the field helps open for a while just to get a good idea of what each field requires.

  • The biggest and best hint is to read the directions. As we can see from obituary posts it can be very confusing if instructions are not followed carefully! So many thanks to those who check instructions carefully!

    Second is if you do not understand the instruct ions please ask! We love people to ask questions!

  • Thank you John, Melissa, and Anne. Well I'm encouraged now to give it a try. It will probably take me awhile to get used to the slowness of doing obituaries.

    I've been doing mostly Boston Tax Records ...... I like those bathes because it's basically typing names which goes really fast ....... I also selected that project for the Irish names LOL

    The other I do which is somewhat slower is Missouri Naturalization Records ....... I once lived in Kansas City. And when I really want a change in indexing/reviewing I'll do Virginia Marriage Records ..... now that's a slow process (and frustrating) because of the handwriting and poor quality of many of the documents.

    I really appreciate you all taking the time to post a response.


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