By Nancy Lasater
Books & More
The Grant Foreman Collection at the Muskogee Public Library has both printed and microfilmed documentation that can help researchers find vital information regarding their ancestry or about the history of Muskogee. Many of the microfilmed records are prefaced with an index which helps locate a copy of the original document such as a marriage certificate, school enrollment, funeral home record or perhaps a cemetery location. Most of those indexes are separated only by the letters of the alphabet versus being sorted alphabetically so digitizing the index makes it available to be sorted for easier extraction of the information on the original document.
An example of extracting information from books and periodicals that have no index is the publication of biographies of residents of Oklahoma from 25 different sources covering a time period from 1889 through 1964. This is a great resource for those looking for material on specific Oklahomans. It was compiled by volunteer Helen Lemley and is also available in a hard copy through the Muskogee County Genealogical Society.
The staff of Local History and Genealogy Department at the Library is in the process of transferring many of the microfilmed indexes to a digital record on the computer so they can be sorted by name and made more readily available to our patrons. An example of a more recent digitization is the creation of a more completely indexed record of the obituaries and death notices from the newspaper, the Muskogee Daily Phoenix from statehood in 1907 through the current month. This was only accomplished with the help of many volunteers including Mary Downing, Linda Stout and Barbara Downs, members of the Muskogee County Genealogical Society who extracted the information obtained through reading each filmed issue of the newspaper. Linda and her husband Jay and have volunteered to read through current printed issues and submit a list each month to keep the obituary records up to date. This information is then posted on the society site.
Volunteers are an invaluable part of making records more readily available for patrons to research. The latest completed project is a digital index of Muskogee County Marriage Records for the years 1890-1907, available at the Library or through the Genealogical Society. Barbara Downs and Linda Stout have volunteered to assist in finishing the project by creating an index for those marriage records 1907-1948. Sherry Jackson has completed an “Index to Divorce Cases found in the U.S. Supreme Court Records, Muskogee County, Oklahoma 1907 through mid 1920s.” Volunteer Helen Lemley is currently working on an index of the Muskogee County School Enumeration Reports for several past years.
Other data projects waiting to be indexed are older records of funeral homes including Lescher-Millsap 1935-1966, various Muskogee County and U.S. District Court proceedings such as more divorce cases, guardianship and administration applications, probate records, Confederate pension applications and more Muskogee school census information through 1936.
Our staff works with volunteers who want to help with any of our indexing and digitizing endeavors and will help them choose an area of information most suited to their individual interests. Some of the projects can be worked on in your home, or you can bring a laptop to the department to work directly from the microfilm or printed material. If you are interested in helping with any of these projects, please contact the staff in the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Muskogee Public Library.
Nancy Lasater is a library assistant in the Genealogy and Local History Department of the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657, Ext. 3 or Ext. 257.