— Submitted by Allen Voisine
A while back, Arlene Belanger donated to our group, her mother’s newspaper collection. A few members had gathered at Arlene’s home and reduced the accumulated newspapers to contain only the obituary pages from those newspapers. Wanting to create more space in her shed, Arlene and her son brought me five full totes that contained only the Bangor Daily News. They contained the period from the 1960s to the 2000s.
After discussing it with Brenda, she asked me to focus only on the 1960s which I then gleaned out of the totes and reduced to one large tote that I had. I then eventually proceeded to focus my attention on cutting the obituaries of people who were born or died or had someone connected to Aroostook County and to the neighboring towns in the St. John Valley on the Canadian side to the North and to a few communities in Penobscot County that are close to our border to the South. I proceeded to cut and place the obituaries in a separate envelope with the date of the newspaper they appeared in. I would do this in groupings of fifty-two.
Then I would paste the obits on sheets of paper and arrange them in a binder. I would then enter the pertinent information into a spreadsheet that I had created previously. That spreadsheet contains the individual’s first name, middle initial, birth name of women, spouse’s last name(s) for the woman, last names, and added a complete date of death and the page number where they appeared in the binder.
The reason that I assumed the complete date of death from the obituary is that it covers a period ending on that date. It is simply stated for example they died on a Wednesday without me knowing the date of the printing of the newspaper. If you need to know the full correct date of death you will need to do further research.
In one of the many days’ paper amongst the obituaries that I clipped there was a Harley, Harmon, Harold, Harry, and Hope, who had passed within a day or so between them. It would have been interesting if the lady had the first name of Harriet.
All said and done, it took me six weeks to cut, paste, and do the data entry for the 3,276 obituaries in this project.