The Search for a Manitoba Obituary
Learn why MANI and NewspaperArchive.com are an effective combination
By: Bob Allebone, President, Southeast & Winnipeg Branch, MGS
When searching for an obituary of an individual who died in Manitoba, your search time may be considerably reduced because you are a member of the Manitoba Genealogical Society (MGS).
As an MGS member you have access to the MAnitoba Name Index, which we affectionately call MANI. You can access MANI while using the computers at the MGS Resource Library or from your home computer or tablet … all for free.
MANI has over 1,250,000 names that can be searched electronically. Most of the names originate from Manitoba cemetery transcriptions and Manitoba obituaries. But MANI also includes some names found in birth & marriage records and some Manitoba local history books. The cemetery transcriptions and the obituary listings come from the efforts of many MGS volunteers over many decades. MANI is an MGS creation developed by devoted MGS volunteer and Honorary Life Member, Gord McBean.
You access MANI by going to the MGS website at mbgenealogy.com, then login using your ID and password. Once you have done this, scroll down and click on <MANI Dashboard>, then click on <MANI Search>. Now, carry out your desired search.
If the surname is not a common name, start your search just by entering the surname. It’s better to start general and then add more information to the entry fields if necessary. If the deceased’s name is relatively common, you may be able to find the desired name in the results faster than proceeding directly to a searchable newspaper archive. A search for the name in searchable archived newspaper will produce results of every occurrence of the name whether or not the name appears in an obituary. You may have to read hundreds of newspaper hit results on the name before you find the obituary you are looking for. Since most of the data within MANI is either cemetery transcriptions or obituary listings, you are more likely to find the obituary you are searching for by using MANI first, if the death occurred in Manitoba.
As an example, let’s do a search on the ancient Norman name that my surname is derived from … Albon, and see what we can find. The name ‘Albon’ arrived in England with the Norman conquest of 1066. Many hundreds of years went by and the name was significantly altered. That surname found its way from Albon, to Albone, to Allbones, to Allibone in Warwickshire England in 1842, and changed by my great-grandfather in Quebec in 1888 to Allebone.
On MANI we find one Albon hit for an obituary and one for a reference in a local history book. There is also a cemetery transcription for an Albones and a hit on a publication index for an Albone.
Let’s focus on the obituary for Dorothy Albon who died in the year 1995. When we click on <Details> on the far left of the results page, we see from the information displayed the obituary for Dorothy appeared in the March 21 and 22, 1995 edition of a Winnipeg newspaper [obituarieswinpap]. Since the Winnipeg Tribune last published in the year 1980, we know that Dorothy’s obituary appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press but that fact is not crucial in finding the obituary.
I should mention that Dorothy Albon is not related to me and when I started this search I did not know who or what I was going to find.
OK … now what? Where can we find the actual obituary? MANI is an index of names that advises you in what publication the name appeared and when. MANI does not provide you with the applicable text from the publication, but you will know where to find it.
If the death had occurred after July 1999 we could access for free the ‘PASSAGES’ database of obituaries provided by the Winnipeg Free Press. This free database can be found at this link and covers the Winnipeg Free Press, Brandon Sun and The Carillon:
If we had known the obituary had appeared in the Winnipeg Tribune (1890-1980) then this free database provided the University of Manitoba can be searched. This database contains more editions of the Winnipeg Tribune than you will find on Newspapers.com or NewspaperArchive.com … and did I say it’s free! Have a look if you have never used this. Try a search on a family member, maybe yourself.
Now that we know the dates of the obituary … March 21 and 22, 1995 … and that it was published in a Winnipeg newspaper, we can use NewspaperArchive.com to find the actual obituary.
If you are visiting the MGS Resource Library you can, as a member, use for free our INTERNATIONAL version of NewspaperArchive.com. Or if you are a member of the Brandon or Winnipeg Public Library you can go on to their website and among their digital collections you will find the CANADIAN version of NewspaperArchive.com and be able to use it for free from the comfort of your own home using your own computer or tablet. As the description implies, the CANADIAN version of NewspaperArchive.com allows you access to only Canadian newspapers which they have archived. NewspaperArchive.com have an impressive extensive collection of archived Manitoba news from urban and rural Manitoba. The INTERNATIONAL version includes all the newspapers found in the CANADIAN version.
The data input screen for the INTERNATIOANL version of NewspaperArchive.com is somewhat different than the CANADIAN version.
I won’t show the input screen for the INTERNATIONAL version. If you visit the MGS Resource Library in Winnipeg you will find two MGS computers on which the INTERNATIONAL version of NewspaperArchive.com has been loaded and there are instructions beside each of those two computers for the use of this software. It is simple to use and the MGS Resource Library volunteers will be glad to help you. Bring along a flash (thumb) drive on which to download clippings from newspapers you wish to retain.
Below is the data input screen for the CANADIAN version of NewspaperArchive.com which you can access for free from your own computer if you are a member of the Brandon or Winnipeg Public Library
As you can see above, you can narrow the search by names, keywords, location and date range.
As a general search I usually start by selecting only the Province, a reasonable date range and enter the first and last name under the individual fields for “First Name” and “Last Name”. If you get too many hits, instead just enter the first and last name under “With the Exact Phrase”. So in this case I entered, “Dorothy”, “Albon”, “Manitoba” and “1995”. If the surname is quite unique, don’t enter the first name.
That search data was sufficient to yield only one result. It was the obituary that was within the Winnipeg Free Press on March 21, 1995. There’s a problem. The scan by NewspaperArchive.com of that page is so blurred it is impossible to read the text. Only the obituary on March 21, 1995 turned up, but not the obituary inserted in the Winnipeg Free Press on March 22, 1995. Why do we know it was inserted again on March 22, 1995? Because that’s the information provided by the MANI search.
So, I carried out a search again on NewspaperArchive.com but with inputting only “Albon”, “Manitoba” and “1995”. This time the obituary for Dorothy Albon found in the March 22, 1995 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press does appear in the search results. The success result for our search appears below.
You may have met Dorothy Albon when shopping in the former downtown Hudson’s Bay store!
Bottom line, the Manitoba Name Index provided by MGS and NewspaperArchive.com make a great team when you use them in that order. Hope you have found this tip helpful.