Where did these indexes to obituaries and death notices originate?

Panama City Pilot

The Panama City Pilot was one of the earliest newspapers published in the Florida panhandle. It was published every Thursday in Panama City beginning 30 May 1907, before Bay County became a county, and ceased publication 26 December 1941. Its editor was G. M. West.

In 1995 Barbara Walker Winge compiled an index to death announcements in the Pilot for the period 1908 through 1916 and donated a loose-leaf notebook copy to the Bay County Library. In 2007, the BCGS began exploring the possibility of transcribing her manuscript, with her permission, with the intent of placing it on the Web. However, it became evident early on that the set of newspapers used to create her index had been missing a significant number of issues.

Fortunately, a series of 25 microfilms, apparently made from a different set of newspapers by the Micro Photo Division of Bell & Howell, containing a more complete set of issues, is in the permanent collection of the Bay County Library. Therefore, a new extraction was indicated using the microfilm copy.

As a rule, first names of children were not reported in early editions of the Pilot, but their sex was, so the present extractors chose to add that information, along with a number of comments thought to be a genealogical value, to the new index. Thus, the present index contain considerably more information that the previous one. The present index was extracted by Cindy D’Aurora and Master Joseph D’Aurora from the microfilm collection, beginning in 2007 and ending in September 2008. The effort is ongoing for the 1917-1919 issues.

Panama City News Herald

This site contains a complete index to all the death notices and obituaries reported in the Panama City News Herald between 1 July 1987 and 30 September 2013, plus a few additional scattered dates from earlier years. It is the product of many hours of effort over a number of years by Bay County Library staff members in the Local History and Technical Services Department. Among them were Barbara Winge, Sara Cross, Anita Lucas, Gail Layton, and Rose Hughes. A long-time Library volunteer, Joan Perrullo, entered many obituaries during her many years of volunteering. Some of these volunteers were also members of the Bay County Genealogical Society.

All of these results are included in the present index, which contains approximately 40,678 names of individuals who died over a span of nearly 26 years.

The extracted information was collected into the Library's Ask Sam database as it became available for use by the Library reference staff to locate obituaries for patrons. Previously however, the list has not been available to the public.

In May 2007, at the suggestion Library Genealogy Specialist Rebecca Brown Saunders, the Bay County Library and the Bay County Genealogical Society launched a cooperative effort to transfer the database into a spreadsheet and make the information available to the public via the BCGS Web site.

In 2011, it was suggested that the obituary index be rejuvenated. Since that time, obituaries have been extracted by Sarah Sapp, William Zehner, Janice Cochran, and were uploaded to this site on 15 Octoer 2013. Additional extractions will be found on this site Genealogy Gateway for years before 1987 and after 2013.

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