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From the Green Valley News, Wednesday May 19 2010, page C7

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Ohio and Illinois Online Research

Today's column features the Cleveland (Ohio) Necrology File suggested by reader June Herron. The basis for this database is an alphabetical card file containing data taken from area cemetery records and newspaper death notices compiled by the Cleveland Public Library staff over many years. Paid death notices published in the following newspapers are also included:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer - 1850-1975

The Cleveland Herald - 1833, 1847-1848, 1876, 1878-1879

The Cleveland Press - 1941-1975

Though published in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, these newspapers covered much of northeastern Ohio and in many instances more distant locations. The Cleveland Public Library website is home to the link to the Necrology File at

The search engine is easy to use. Entry of a surname will produce data from all records for that name. Read the "Search Tips" for help if you don't find your search target. Often you can construct a family unit from information culled from the death notice or cemetery record. Instructions for obtaining a copy of an obituary from microfilm are also here as well as a number of other useful links for genealogists.

When you find a death occurring in Ohio between 1908 and 1953 visit the Family Search pilot site at to view and print the Ohio Death Certificate. This website is growing at a phenomenal rate with records being added continually.

Reader Adele Wirkus suggests the Illinois State Archives at as another information-packed free site for researchers. Here you will find death indexes, marriage indexes, and several databases pertaining to Illinois veterans who served in various conflicts from the War of 1812 through the Spanish American War.

Another interesting feature is "Records in the Illinois Regional Archives Depositories (IRAD)," collections of records filed at seven different Illinois Universities. These databases include birth and death indexes, and numerous indexes of various court records, etc. Instructions are provided with each database informing you how to obtain copies of relevant records.

These are just a few examples of records available online for two heavily populated states. More and more states are taking steps to digitize popular record sets and make them accessible online. Usually copies can be obtained for reasonably low fees. When you are researching a particular state be sure to check the State Archives, State Library, and major historical society websites in that state.

You may be surprised to see what is now available from your home computer to boost your search. For instance, in Cleveland the Western Reserve Historical Society has their genealogical catalog online along with several databases from their holdings at

Some other state sites I have used are New Jersey,; Virginia,; and Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is currently considering a proposal to digitize vital records for online access. Hooray!

Just Google the state name plus "archives" or "state library" to find the applicable website. Another good way to find resources for a particular state is to visit, the website of the USGenWeb project. We'll explore that free site in more detail in a future article. Don't forget to send me your favorite free sites for future articles.

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