“Everyone deserves to be remembered,” says Donna Bachowski, Reference Central Manager, Orange County Florida Library System. Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and support from her own library, Bachowski has facilitated a way to bring that sentiment closer to reality. She spearheaded the creation of EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage), an obituary database that is projected to a nation-wide collective.
“Obituaries have become very expensive,” Bachowski reported. “We have noticed a substantial decrease in obituaries published in the Orlando Sentinel. As a result we have created a free, easy to use online form with guided fields into which information about the deceased may be added.” Bachowski estimates the decrease in newspaper published obituaries in the Orlando area approached 46% over the past decade.
The Cedar City Library in Cedar City, Utah is among the first in the nation to enter an agreement to participate in this program. They join Orange County, the Tulsa Oklahoma City-County Library, and the Brooklyn New York Public Library in this effort. The service is free and permanent “making libraries the logical partners in this project,” Bachowski points out.
EPOCH content is community generated. That is, community members submit the content to each obituary. The site is monitored and content that is libelous, defamatory, or salacious will not be published. Likewise, though viewers are allowed to comment on obituaries, no comments will be posted without approval of the original writer of the obituary.
EPOCH’s goal is to cooperate with one key library in each state to sponsor and promote the program throughout the state. What spurred Bachowski and her associates to develop the system? “So much information – so much cultural heritage is being lost because, in many cases, obituaries are not being published.”
Steve Decker, Director of the Cedar City Public Library, is elated to be Utah’s primary contact for EPOCH. “I heard Donna’s presentation at ALA’s [American Library Association] conference in San Francisco, in June. I knew this was a program that I wanted Cedar City to sponsor in Utah. I’m very excited about it and pleased to be Utah’s key contact for it.”
Upon learning of the project, Cedar City Manager, Rick Holman, stated, “EPOCH is a wonderful opportunity for family members and friends to share heartfelt thoughts of their deceased loved ones. This will encourage family legacies and preserve an individual’s contributions to the community.”
EPOCH is free, but registration is required to participate in EPOCH. For more information or to register, visit http://www.epochlegacies.org/. For information about EPOCH in Utah, contact Steve Decker, email@example.com.
What to Do
Visit FamilySearch.org, and use the Search feature to explore indexed records. Use the Browse All Published Collections feature to search digital images of historical records for your ancestors. If you want, attach your discoveries to the corresponding ancestors in your free FamilySearch Family Tree online.