Monday, June 4, 2007

Trying to find JRH in Philadelphia records

I've been helping my CVGS colleague, Joan, sort through all of the online resources in her search for John Robinson Hall (JRH - born 21 March 1886 in Philadelphia) - earlier posts are here, here, here, here and here.

The last known record for JRH is in 1942 when he registered for the World War II draft. He gave his sister's name, Florence Pfaff, as his next-of-kin, and he was working for F.W. Baer & Son in Philadelphia.

We don't know his death date, or whether he died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or some other place. He is not in the Social Security Death Index or in the California Death Index.

The next two "targets of opportunity" are Pennsylvania Death Records and Philadelphia newspaper articles or obituaries.

1) Pennsylvania Death Records - for deaths after 1906, these can be ordered from the Division of vital Records, 101 S. Mercer Street, Room 401, PO Box 1528, New Castle PA 16101. A form can be downloaded from which requires a photo ID of the requester and a statement about the requester's relationship to the deceased. The fee for the record is $9 if the date of death and place of death are known, and $34 if the date and place are not known. They will search for a 2 to 10 year period for the extra $25. Additional spans of 2 to 10 years can be searched for an additional $25.

This may be expensive! We don't know when he died after 1942, or whether he died in Pennsylvania. We could ask for years 1942-1951, then 1952-1961, and 1962-1971 (he would be 85 in 1971).

2) Finding useful newspaper obituary information for Philadelphia newspapers is difficult. The Free Library of Philadelphia web site has a list of newspapers and their dates of publication. It says that obituaries and news items were indexed, but death notices were usually not indexed. The Free Library has an extensive collection of old Philly newspapers which can be requested by title or date. Indexes for the listed newspapers are available in the Newspaper and Microfilm Center. However, for the years between 1942 and say 1971, there are no indexes listed for any Philadelphia newspapers.

Plan B was to contact the Temple University Urban Archives at . They have a collection of newspaper clippings from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin from 1920 to 1982. There was an email address on the web page, so I sent a message to them last night. I will report on the results of that search later.

There is one other way to determine how long JRH may have resided in Philadelphia, and that is to consult the Philadelphia City Directories. There are collections of these at several places in the USA, but the best collection is probably in Philadelphia, including at the Free Library. I need to determine if the library staff will do a search for me, or if I need to find someone to do it (a professional, local society or RAOGK).

If anyone has ideas or suggestions for this Philadelphia research, I would appreciate hearing from you!


Anonymous said...

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