Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for the ‘Obituaries’ Category

The Dead Beats Society at the Lewiston Public Library

In Lewiston, Lewiston Public Library, Library Programs, Obituaries, The Dead Beats Society on March 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm

It all began with a book. A most unusual book: The Dead Beat, Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasures of  Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson.

the dead beat book

It is much more than a history of obituary-writing.  It is a touching tale of life and what we ultimately leave behind.  Johnson says that our obituaries are our last little outposts on Earth.

The newspaper people say that the obituary writers are “working the dead beat.”  As we were starting to get our genealogy group off the ground at the Lewiston Public Library the first thing we started with was organizing the obituaries that librarians from times past had kept in binders.  Everyone must realize how important obituaries are for genealogists!   Volunteers, Dick and Ellen Niles, came up with an ingenious system of manipulating a genealogy software program, The Master Genealogist, to something in which we could store our obituaries.  Thanks to their hard work we now have a database in our local history room which contains over 14,000 Niagara area obituaries.  We also decided to call our genealogy group the Dead Beats Society.

Volunteers continue to spend countless hours inputting data into this program.  Beverly Bidak and Maureen Weber took over the reigns after Dick and Ellen Niles moved away.  Today new members offer to help out as it is a never-ending task.  Volunteer, Peggy Salada, brings in obituary clippings and the others add them into the system.  I also bring in old obituaries found after scouring through the digital newspaper website, http://www.fultonhistory.com.  I have started at the beginning (Niagara Falls Gazettes from 1854) and one day will finally meet up to the present.

Maureen Weber and Kathy O'Connor work on inputting obituaries at the Lewiston Public Library

Maureen Weber and Kathy O’Connor work on inputting obituaries at the Lewiston Public Library

Patrons can request a look-up or may check out the program themselves.

The Dead Beats Society meets once a month and works on various genealogy projects including helping people break down those brick walls.

The book, The Dead Beat, Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson, is available at the Lewiston Public Library.