Ouachita Parish Public Library launches online obituary index

Ouachita Parish Master Launch
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 11:15 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A new service launched on October 14, 2022, on the Ouachita Parish Public Library’s website. The “Master Index of Obituaries from Monroe Newspapers” is a project that has been in the works for over 25 years.

Lora Peppers, library associate for the genealogy department said, “It’s been a lot of fun, and we have helped so many people that way that were looking for ancestors. It’s an index of the obituaries that are in Monroe area papers from the Ouachita Gazette in 1825. We’re currently working on The Newstar in 1992 at the moment.”

The database allows people to search obituaries from the years 1825-1991 to trace family history and contains information such as the name, notes about the death, and the cemetery location.

“I believe over 230,000 names are in this index at the current moment and we are adding to them daily,” said Peppers. The computer technician for the library, Michael Hargrave, was in charge of building the database. He said this is a good starting point for those looking for their family history.

“There’s a lot of very interesting things especially from years and years ago, you know, the way people died, you know, in 1845,” said Hargrave.

Five members of the Genealogy department have gone through microfilm and newspapers recording deaths that had a connection to Northeast Louisiana dating back more than 100 years ago.

“She’s literally going page to page, and essentially what is a film roll looking at it on a screen going through the obituaries and recording them manually,” said Hargrave.

After each year is completed, the documents are printed and bound in a book to be used by those who visit the Genealogy department. Head of Genealogy and Special Collections, Cyndy Roberston, said it was important to make these obituaries available online for patrons.

“People now expect to find things easily through electronic means. That’s why we wanted to make it online, so that’s really what we’ve done,” said Roberston.

Other resources available for library patrons include findagrave.com and the library’s edition of ancestry.com. Anyone who has access to the library’s website can use these resources from home. According to Robertson, “Ancestry is available at all of our branches, so any Ouachita Parish Public Libary patron can come into the library and use Ancestry.”

Peppers says she is proud of the work she and her staff have put into this project.

“To actually have them online at your fingertips where you can look up a citation is just incredible,” said Peppers.

To access the link to the master index, click here to start tracing your family’s history.