Click the play button below to watch a video about the history of the Browning Genealogy database.
Mr. Charles H. Browning has distinguished himself by his self-less and altruistic contribution to his community. A resident of Evansville, Indiana, he has lived in his native city throughout his life. As owner of Browning Funeral Home since 1954, Mr. Browning began 45 years ago compiling and cataloguing obituary records. This genealogical file now includes approximately 300,000 individual obituary records. This comprehensive study represents a history of family structures and connections, common ancestors and the progenitors of family lines. A wealth of information about the people of Southwestern Indiana has emerged from this study. Mr. Browning refers to it as a "people study".
Beginning his study in 1954, Mr. Browning began recording each obituary from Southwestern Indiana that appeared in the Evansville Courier and the Evansville Press. Each obituary that was published in the Evansville Newspapers was typed on a 3 X 5 index card. Each card could include as many as 15 categories of information about the deceased person. The categories of information also include each survivor of the deceased along with his or her residency. Over the years by collating this information, it became possible to create a family tree. It grew to be a fascinating and valuable study.
With the passage of time, Mr. Browning began to prepare obituary index cards prior to 1954. At this juncture, he read all the newspaper records from 1920-1954 microfiche reels at The Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (Central) and Willard Library and copied the relevant information. This information was painstakingly transferred to the indexed card system. This expanded the index card system to include the years 1920-1993. The obituary index cards from 1920-1993 were then copied on microfilm reels. The microfilm reels, including the years 1920-1993 were donated to the area libraries and became available to the public.
In 1990, with the assistance of Mr. Joseph Tawil, President of Tawil Electronics, a computer program was created for entering the obituary records into Mr. Browning's computer system. The Genealogical Files enter the Computer Age. Many solitary years have passed since Mr. Browning began his journey. During most of these years, the effort was his alone. When Mr. Browning's daughter, Jeannie Browning Hester, joined the staff at the funeral home, it was she who met the challenge of the computer system. For the past 30 years Gladys French Goodson has tenaciously entered countless records for Mr. Browning.
One of the missions of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library is to preserve local history. To ensure the viability and the preservation of The Browning Genealogical Records, the Library served as the sponsor for this project. Troy VanAken, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Instructional Technology, University of Evansville, was engaged by the Library to design the technology for the new electronic system. Dr. VanAken transformed the existing files to another program that will be adaptable to the Internet. The new technology designed by Dr. VanAken will be "user friendly" for retrieval of information.
It is now with confidence and high expectations on this 19th day of February, 1999, that we enter the world of the Internet. This Comprehensive Biographical Obituary Study is now available to everyone. Mr. Browning said, "I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to contribute my small input to the safekeeping of the history of Southwestern Indiana". In addition to those people who have been cited for their efforts on this project, Mr. Browning would also like to thank his wife of 50 years, Dolores, and his four children, Charleen Browning Spear, Dr. Mark DeWitt Browning, Rebecca Browning Carter and Jeannie Browning Hester.