Whereas

 
This article following up on the previously posted article that covered a variety of death records. A little over two years ago I came across Memorial Resolutions, an additional type of death record, and wrote the following article titled WHEREAS.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WHEREAS
By Jeffrey A. Bockman
Originally published in Everton's Genealogical Helper, September/October 2008, page 30.

WHEREAS, The members of the genealogical community are always looking for a variety of sources to learn more about their ancestors and other people of interest; and

WHEREAS, I have come across a somewhat unique source of information twice within a two month period; and

WHEREAS, I wanted something new to write about; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That I will write about Memorial Resolutions; and be it further

RESOLVED, That it will be printed in the Everton's Genealogical Helper.

While the format of some of these documents may be a little strange, like the above example, and their titles may differ greatly, the content can be very useful.

As to Discovering Them

My maternal grandmother lived to be 99 and a half. She buried her father and her husband when she was 39 years old and then proceeded to bury two or three sets of her friends. My mother will be turning 88 years old this October and still works "helping old people" at a local retirement community. She has also buried a husband and a number of both long-term and newer friends over the years.
{2009: My mom will be turning 89 this October and she is still helping "old people" but only one day a week.}
 
Every once in a while she will become curious about someone from her past and ask me to see if they are still alive. Fortunately there are now a number of great resources to help see if someone has died or to locate them. Finding out if someone has died is much easier thanks to the Social Security Death Index since it is a nationwide index. Once the date and location where they last lived is known then online telephone directories can help to find the person's last address or possibly their surviving spouse. Obtaining additional details about the family is also much easier thanks to the increased number of current and historical newspapers that are online with obituary files or in some cases the complete text of the paper.
 
Two people of particular interest to my mother were a Frank and Mary Lou Burgess. I easily found his death date from the Social Security Death Index. I was then surprised at not being able to find an online obituary in any of the Chicago or Aurora, Illinois newspapers. I then decided to just search the internet for "Frank Burgess death Batavia."
 
One entry that came up was for the "Illinois General Assembly - Bill Status for SR0059" with a description "Memorial Frank K Burgess" Senate Sponsors. This Senate Resolution started out with:
 
 
(Frank K. Burgess Illinois Senate Resolution)
 
"WHEREAS, The members of the Senate of the State of Illinois learned with sadness of the death of Frank K. Burgess of Batavia, formerly of Geneva, on January 23, 2005; and

WHEREAS, He was born on" along with the date and location of his birth, and the names of his parents.

It told that he was active in Boy Scouts earning the rank of Eagle Scout. It gave the name of his high school and the year of his graduation along with a listing of honor societies and his various school activities. It continued with the college that he attended including his fraternity, sports participation, and the honors earned. It told of the school where he earned his graduate degree.

It gave details of his military service and then his participation in the family business. It told of his marriage, even mentioning where they met. It listed their various places of residence. It continued with a list of their various civil activities and honors. It gave the names of his surviving wife, his children and their spouses. It told the number of grand and great-grandchildren that he had. It even gave the names of his in-laws, his brother, and his brother's family.

I printed out the resolution and gave it to my mother and I didn't think about it any more because I had to finish filing my income taxes, complete an article, and plan for an upcoming research trip to Ohio and Virginia.

I wanted to do some research in Greene County, Ohio on my way to Cincinnati for the Ohio State Conference. Before leaving I checked the internet and learned that they had created a Record Center and Archives a block away from the courthouse in Xenia, Ohio. Back in the mid-80s this was the first courthouse that I had ever visited to do research. When I had asked about seeing some old marriage records they just gave me a key to the room in the basement that held the registers. Creating the archives was a very good idea.

(Greene County, Ohio Archives)
 
A link at the bottom of the archive's website, www.co.greene.oh.us/archives/arc_resources.htm brought up a 13 page long listing of the Full Inventory of Public Records. One of the entries under "Clerk of Court" caught my attention. It was for "Memorial Resolutions; 1897 - 1979." That got me thinking that there must be many more of these memorial resolutions at all levels of government. I also want to add that the Record Center and Archives is a very nice facility and that the manager and staff are extremely friendly and helpful.
 
Where To Find Them?
 
I became curious about where else memorial resolutions could be found. A search at Google.com for "Memorial Resolutions" returned 19,100 entries. Some of them contain detailed obituaries type information while others are just a list of names and a death date.

The best way to find them is to search by "Memorial Resolution" in quotes and then a person's last name if it is fairly unique; otherwise use their full name. Also try the full name with and without quotes. You might also get lucky and find someone else's resolution that mentions the person of interest.

Sample search results:

"Memorial Resolution" Smith - 3470
"Memorial Resolution" Will Smith - 655
"Memorial Resolution" William Smith - 795
"Memorial Resolution" "Will Smith" - 6
"Memorial Resolution" "William Smith" - 32

It turns out that Memorial Resolutions are not just created by governmental units but by a variety of professional organizations and educational institutions. A few examples are:

 Professional Organizations

The American Medical Association
www.ama-assn.org

Their Memorial Resolutions from 2000 to present are included with the proceedings of their summer and winter meetings.

American Bar Association
www.abanet.org

American Library Association
www.ala.org

Educational Institutions

The University of Maryland
www.education.umd.edu/college_senate/memorials/

The University of Texas at Austin
www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/pages/memorials.html

IMAGE

(University of Texas - Memorial Page)

A Google search for ("memorial resolution" site:www.utexas.edu) yields 1,020 memorials from 1998 to present. About 800 of them were for professors. There is a list of and a link to the memorials published before Sept. 1999 at www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/pages/alpha/a.html

    NCAA
    www.ncaa.org
    Their annual proceedings include a list of the administrators and coaches who have passed away during the year.

The odds of finding a resolution is similar to doing newspaper research, who they were, whom they knew, along with what they did will increase the chances of finding a memorial resolution. When and where they died will factor into being able to find it online.

The format and specific language will vary for each group. If you can narrow it down to the state, school, or organization then review some of the other entries and look for the key phrases that they used in the memorials. In the Illinois General Assembly (www.ilga.gov) the phrase "memorial resolution" is not used but each resolution contains the phrase "learned with sadness of the death of."

Review the resolutions to find the key phrases that are being used, such as "learned with sadness", "passing of", and "death of." If it is a common name then it can also be limited by state. Once you find a governmental or organizational website the search can be limited to that site by added "site:website."

Example: Google Search for: ("learned with sadness of the death of" site:www.ilga.gov) returned 1,510 entries.

Michigan Legislature
www.legislature.mi.gov
There were 422 memorials found by searching Google for ("offered as a memorial for" site:www.legislature.mi.gov/).

Books

Memorial resolutions have also been printed in books. A Google Book search for ("memorial resolution" "passing of") returned 422 entries including entries from the proceedings of the annual meeting of the American Wood-Preservers' Association, publications by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, 44th Annual Newspaper Guild Convention, Catholic Theological Society of America, and many others. You might find out that your ordinary ancestor or acquaintance was more important than you thought based upon an occupation or hobby.

How are they Submitted?

As with any genealogical source it is a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of why and how a record was created.
 
Associations: Members of the governing body or the organization's board submit the memorial resolutions, usually for deceased members.
 
Government: Anyone who has done any US courthouse research is well aware of the fact that while we are the United States there is nothing united about how state governments or even county governments work. At the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes (www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/revisor/pubs/bill_drafting_manual/Chapter%206.htm) there is a section "6.1 on Uses of Resolutions."

"Memorial resolutions, also called memorials, are used to make any statement that asks another government official or body to act. The typical memorial resolution is directed to Congress and asks for a change in law or federal policy. Requests for federal constitutional amendments, federal rule changes, state departmental actions, or actions by the governor are all appropriate matters for memorial resolutions. Memorial resolutions must be in bill form and follow bill procedure."

"Memorial resolutions addressed to the President or the Congress of the United States, or a house or member of Congress, or a department or officer of the United States, or a state or foreign government must follow the same procedure as bills before being adopted."

The clerk at my local state senator's office said that state senators or representatives submit them for some of the more prominent deaths in their district. They can be acquaintances, the death of an active military person from the district that was found from an obituary, or for someone brought to their attention by a constituent. While they have to go through the full legal process these are usually passed quickly. If you locate a memorial resolution then see who sponsored the bill and contact them because they would have copies of any obituaries or letters that started the process.

At the Federal level, members of the House of Representatives issue statements and have them entered into the record rather than go through the lengthy process to pass a resolution. A Google search for ("passing of" site:www.house.gov/) found 697 entries. They are mostly statements on the passing of members, former members, friends, politicians, and celebrities. Some of the search results were not memorials but referred to the passing of a bill.

Still Living?

Whereas not all of my mother's old friends have passed away, the internet can also be helpful to locate and contact living people, or at least find out if they are still alive. Online telephone directories can help to locate people by their name or an old telephone number. Unfortunately some of the sites are not current. Do a few searches for someone that you know has moved frequently and see what is shown.

In the September/October issue of The Genealogical Helper, William Dollarhide had an article on "The Best Internet Sites for Finding Living Relatives" that gave listings of everything from online telephone and city directories to public record and private investigator sites. You can also use them to find other living people.

Searching for a person might turn up an obituary or memorial for their spouse or a parent. Searching by a female's maiden name, a necessity if you do not know her married name, can possibly turn up an obituary of one of her parents or grandparents that would provide her married name and possibly even the town where she now lives.

RESOLVED

WHEREAS, Memorials are not always the easiest resource to find, and

WHEREAS, many of them do contain very useful information; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That YOU will search for them; and be it further

RESOLVED, That YOU will modify the searches as necessary to try and find them.