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You want to have a class reunion but don't know how to contact all your classmates. What do you do?
 
You have made a good start by coming to the O-High Alumni site. You will find useful links on the O-High Alumni home page.

One class member needs to be the Record Keeper who will keep a file of all the information on classmates as you find them. You will want to record names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and spouse names as a minimum. You may also want to record dates of birth and dates of death for deceased members and to obtain the obituaries of deceased members.

Start with a list of all the people who graduated in your class. We have posted complete class lists for all classes from 1863onwards. Your graduation program and senior yearbook will also provide such a list, and the names of all graduating seniors are printed in the Oberlin News-Tribune around graduation time each year.

Make a list of "missing" classmates for whom you have no information. The best way to find such "missing" persons is by personal contact – someone who knows someone who knows someone…  Start by asking other members of your class, and remember to ask every person you add to your list if they have information on missing class members.  You should also:

  1. Contact relatives of classmates. Use the O-High Alumni search engine on the home page to search for brothers, sisters, parents or children of your classmates in other OHS classes or referenced in obituaries. 
  2. Use people search pages to look for parents, siblings or other family members living in Oberlin or anywhere else. This web page allows you to enter a name once to search multiple sites: http://www.theultimates.com/white/. It searches Yahoo, WhoWhere, Switchboard, Infospace, Anywho, and Whitepages. We find the online white pages at SuperPages and Switchboard to be particularly useful. You may also use Google. In the Google search box enter rphonebook:name statecode. For example, if you are looking for John Smith in Ohio enter: rphonebook:john.smith OH. A listing of all John Smiths in Ohio will be displayed.
  3. Use Anybirthday.com to find the birthdate and ZIP code for missing classmates. Anybirthday.com has a very large number of birthdates for living persons, and is particularly useful when the people search sites provide "too many" hits. From the birthdate and ZIP code you can usually locate your classmate among the "many" hits provided by the people search pages given above. If you need to convert a ZIP code to a city or town, use one of the links on the Geography page. 
  4. Ask every one you contact to help track down members. Genealogists are particularly great at this sort of thing. Two excellent genealogy societies local to Oberlin that may be helpful are the Lorain County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogy Society, which normally meets the second Monday of the month at 7:00 PM at the Oberlin Public Library (OPL), and the Oberlin African-American Genealogy and History Group, which normally meets on the first Saturday of the month at 11:00 AM at the OPL. 
  5. Register with the "web alumni sites".  All of the sites provide a method to send e-mail to class members who register, however most require you to be a "paid member" to send them a message. 
By all means post a message on the O-High Alumni message board identifying the missing classmate(s) you are seeking. You might want to repost your message every few months as messages roll off this message board after 60 days.

If you are told someone has died, don't take it as fact until you see the obituary or find a death date. To confirm a death we recommend checking the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) by accessing it through the general search engine at Ancestry.com. If they are deceased since about 1960 and ever had a social security number or a railroad pension, they should be listed here. By using Ancestry.com you will not only find hits on the SSDI but on many other databases that may provide additional information. While access to the SSDI and several other useful databases is free, access to many of the databases requires a subscription. The In Memoriam pages webmaster is a subscriber.

Check the local libraries for help. Obituaries of OHS graduates often appear in the local newspapers. The Oberlin News-Tribune is available on microfilm in the Ohio Room at the Oberlin Public Library, the Elyria Chronicle Telegram is available at the Elyria Public Library and (by subscription) through Ancestry.com, and the Lorain Journal is available at the Lorain Public Library. References to other Ohio public libraries can be found at http://winslo.state.oh.us/publib/libtable.html. Oberlin College's Mudd Library has microfilm of Oberlin newspapers, as well as the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The New York Times, and other national newspapers. They also have an on-line subject Index to old Oberlin newspapers (1860-1924) that is helpful for finding published artilces on our early classmates.

If you have an obituary of an OHS classmate that is not posted on our In Memoriam obituary pages, please send it to the In Memoriam webmaster, and he will post it for you. The webmaster looks for obituaries during his infrequent visits to Oberlin (he lives in Massachusetts) and has a rather long list of obituaries to search for. If you can provide an obituary, that would be quite helpful. If you just have a death date, send that to him and he will put the name on his list of obituaries to find.

References to obituaries (but not the actual obituaries) in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Press going back to 1976 can be found by searching the Cleveland News Index. The Cleveland Necrology File has extracts from obituaries for many Cleveland area deaths from as early as 1833 to 1975, including many Oberlin deaths. If you use the "Keyword" search on this database you will find names in the body of the extracts, in addition to the names of the deceased in the subject heading. The Ohio Death Certificate Index provides an index to Ohio deaths, searchable statewide or by county, in 5-year increments for the years 1913-1937. This database was apprently created by scanning in the data, creating a number of misspellings, so it pays to check alternate spellings by substituting letters that might be misinterpreted by the scanning & OCR system (F for E, D for O, etc.).

In addition to the Oberlin News-Tribune, the Oberlin Public Library has other useful reference materials, such as:

  1. A nice collection of Oberlin High School yearbooks going back to the early 1900s. 
  2. Oberlin city directories and telephone books for various years. 
  3. A listing of burials at Westwood Cemetery, Oberlin. Burials in some other Lorain County cemeteries may be found at http://www.centurytel.net/lorgen/cemetery/cemetery.htm. 
Don't give up! It is possible to find everyone! It just takes time. It took the class of 1960 three years to find everyone. We started with about six names and went from there. We listed one classmate as deceased, and he was quite surprised to hear of his death when we later found him living in Cleveland!

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Updated 2 August 09