Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Helpful Southern California Obituary Resource

Just wanted to let everyone know about a helpful obituary resource for Southern California that I discovered this morning. It is the SCORP (Southern California Obituary Resource Project). I have been doing some research on my new brother-in-law's father's family (which I will post more about later) who settled in southern California in the 1940s. There are also several of my mom's Pemberton cousins/aunts/uncles who moved to southern California between the 1930s and 1960s. Trying to determine where their obituaries may be located has been somewhat stressful since southern California is so largely populated and there are sooo many newspapers. Typically, the Los Angeles Times only prints obits for the rich and famous and only short little death notices for the not-so-rich-and-famous, so I have not found it to be very helpful over the years.

On the SCORP site, I clicked on "Research Process Tutorial." Clicking on Step #1 "Develop Your Research Plan" brings you to an obituary worksheet. This form asks for the decedent's name, date of death, source for the date of death, last known address, source for the last known address, other family members that may be listed in the obituary, geographic area to search (community of last known address plus surrounding communities), newspapers that could hold the obituary, libraries that have these newspapers, queries posted, and lookups requested. This is a great tool to help you record your research plan and results.

Going back to the "Research Process Tutorial," I clicked on Step #2 "Obtain a death certificate from vital records." I already had my brother-in-law's great-grandmother's death certificate, which told me she lived in the Los Angeles County suburb of Pico Rivera. If I hadn't had her death certificate already, this page would have given me several wonderful resources for obtaining it. This page gives the mailing addresses and website links of several county recorders in southern California, as well as the state office of vital records in Sacramento. The site also gives a link to an online description of policies and search fees for the Los Angeles County Recorder. In addition to the info for county recorders and state vital records office, there are links to online California death indexes and the SSDI, California city directories online, and online census images and transcriptions.

Going back to the "Research Process Tutorial," I clicked on Step #3 "Look at proximity." The Community Locator came up, and I looked up Pico Rivera in the "If your relative lived in" column on the far left. I found that Pico Rivera is in the San Gabriel Valley East region of southern California. Clicking on the link for San Gabriel Valley East gave me the names of all towns and cities in that region to help me determine which southern California newspapers to search. What a relief, since there are sooo many newspapers in southern California, and I'm not otherwise familiar with the regions of the area.

Going back to the "Research Process Tutorial," I clicked on Step #4 "Find newspapers." I then clicked on "View the newspaper listings." This brought up several holdings of newspapers from Southern California sorted by repository.

Going back to the "Research Process Tutorial," I clicked on Step #5 "Find a repository to contact." I then chose to sort the repositories geographically by town/city where the repository is located. The two repositories for Pico Rivera did not have any further information, but the Whittier Area Genealogical Society does perform free lookups of obits pertaining to Whittier residents or those of the surrounding area. I learned from Step #3 and a quick look at Google Maps that Whittier was the nearest town to Pico Rivera and was also in the San Gabriel Valley East region of southern California.

Going back to the "Research Process Tutorial," I clicked on Step #6 "Obtain an obituary." This gives links to several volunteer lookup services, such as RAOGK, as well as southern California message boards and CAGenWeb sites.

Overall, I thought this was a very helpful resource for determining your ancestor's region of southern Cailfornia and for the repositories and newspapers from that region.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this tip - since this is where much of my recent (20th century) family history takes place, it is good to know there is a California resource like this.