In January 2010, a small band of genealogy seekers embarked on a project to make anyone who has roots in the Pittsburgh area jump for joy. 43 volunteers have been indexing marriages, deaths, and divorces from early Allegheny County newspapers and putting it all online at no cost. Over 52,000 death entries and over 11,000 marriages have been indexed and put online through August. The dates of the newspapers range from 1806-1987.
Project co-ordinator Ann S Eldredge says the idea of an index came to her as she regularly keeps in touch with other Pittsburgh researchers on the popular mailing list of Allegheny County sponsored by RootsWeb.com. An avid genealogy researcher, Eldredge remarked, "I saw on the list that Google had put images of several old newspapers online and Pittsburgh was on it. After spending many hours of looking for my family and investing in Visine for the eye strain, I realized I couldn't be the only one who had uncovered a few golden nuggets of information. It seemed so simple. If anyone was looking at any of the dates, they could write down all the names of that day. After all, how many of your ancestors do you not know when they married or died?"
With that simple question posed to the group, an index was born. Eldredge volunteered to capture the names the volunteers put on the list. List member Norm Minert quickly set up a page for the newspapers submitted so there would be no duplication of efforts. USGenWeb Allegheny County Archives File Manager Ellis Michaels volunteered to get the the submitted indices online.
The daily newspaper lists began to pour in. "It didn't take long for the sheer volume of names being submitted to become overwhelming," said Eldredge. "I quickly realized I needed help. I put a call out for volunteers to assist on my end, and they came. The enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers are inspiring. The work they are doing for family researchers and genealogy buffs is just fantastic. What a gift to give."
"It's been an amazing journey over the last eight months as the volunteers have graciously given their time to read the old newspapers. We have so many death and marriage entries from 1889 and 1890. Since the census was lost for 1890, this almost serves as a substitute. I've found my relatives through this project. Some of the death entries have even led to connections with living cousins. It's been worth it."
"Stop on by and see what our volunteers have done," Eldredge said as a smile came across her face. "After all, the good folks of Pittsburgh are just dying to get in."
To view the death, marriage and divorce indices, go to http://www.usgwarchives.net/pa/allegheny/death-index.htm
The family of Ann S Eldredge can be placed in Allegheny County from 1774. Her Dormont raised father was the last of her direct line to live in PIttsburgh, but there are many family members still in the area. Eldredge was featured in local Pittsburgh newspapers and on the televised news in an August 2005 dedication of new headstones for two of her 4g-grandfathers, John Henry and James Glenn, at the Old St Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, and has been instrumental in assisting the Historical Society of Mt Lebanon in this ongoing project. She is a member of the Western PA Genealogical Society and an active member of the James Waldrop Chapter DAR in Fayetteville, GA. Her genealogy blog, GeniTales, (http://genitalesga.blogspot.com/) focuses on her family history as she traces her family through history from Sweden and Ireland to Wall Street, the White House and across the nation. She resides in Peachtree City, GA, with her husband and two daughters.
The volunteers on this death and marriage index project come from across the nation. It is estimated there could be over a million names on the newspapers.
For more information, please contact Ann Eldredge at firstname.lastname@example.org