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Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.

Willie Lee Gay - H-Town Chapter

htown@aahgs.org

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Houston Informer Index of Deaths 1916 - 1969

This index is a compilation of deaths noted in the Houston Informer (later called the Houston Informer and Texas Freeman) in news articles, mortuary lists, and town and area reports sent in by subscribers. There are just over 49,000 references with some people noted more than once.

The Houston Informer began publishing in 1893 and is considered the oldest African American newspaper west of the Mississippi. Microfilm held by the Neumann Library at the University of Houston Clear Lake was used to create this index. The library holds microfilm from 1916 to 1969.

African American deaths from all over the US were reported, not only those which occurred in Texas. Many articles headlined “Card of Thanks” have information on the deceased, the immediate family and close relatives. Some columns titled “City Happenings” have information on deaths among social notes and news items. News from towns across Texas are listed in articles titled by the town name such as “Bremond Briefs” or “Rockdale Doings”. The earliest death cited occurred in 1905 and is titled “In Memoriam”.

The index is arranged alphabetically by surname. A complete citation consists of the decedent’s name, age, the date of the Informer issue, the page and column number. A lower case “p” after the column number indicates a picture of the person is included. A married woman’s maiden name and husband’s first name are cited when provided. Sometimes two notices of a death are printed in the same column. The phrase “2 items” enclosed in square brackets at the end of the citation helps the user to find both citations. A plus sign “+” after the column number means the article is continued on another page.

There are gaps in the microfilm including a long one from early January to May 22, 1926. Also missing were issues from May, 1924 to May, 1925, November 29, 1947 to February 7, 1948, and  May 24, 1930 to August 2, 1930.

There are many problems with the arrangement of the issues on microfilm. The December 26, 1931 issue is filmed between the December 20, 1930 and December 27, 1930 issues. The March 30, 1935 issue has two different front pages. Two issues are both labeled Mar 20, 193l; one is partly March 13, 1927. Pages of April 5, 1941 and April 12, 1941 issues are mixed together. Different pages are labeled with the same page number in the same issue.

Over the years of publication issues of the paper ranged from eight to 20 pages. It usually appeared on Saturday and sometimes also on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The microfilmed issues are mainly of the Saturday editions with a few Tuesday and Wednesday issues  appearing haphazardly.

The paper was sold by individuals in a given town who were also the reporters for the paper. A notice to reporters in the September 21, 1935 paper states that reporters were entitled to four words per paper sold. In other words, if the reporter sold 25 papers he/she was entitled to send in an article 125 words long for the next issue.

Houston Informer Combined

 

 

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