History and genealogy buffs in Mendocino County have recently been given a great resource by Phil Carnahan, a tech-savvy buff himself who has undertaken to scan and make searchable documents of all the microfilm from the newspapers published in the county from their beginnings to the present time. Phil began that project in 2015 and, while working on that, he began compiling databases of other information he unearthed in his own genealogical searches: births, marriages, deaths, obituaries, and cemeteries. Then he started adding links to other organizations with pertinent information and databases.
A glance at his web page, Mendocino County Indexes (MCI), reveals just how ambitious and comprehensive his project is (https://www.cagenweb.org/mendocino/mci/). He has been given permission to digitize all the major county newspaper microfilm, and he says he hopes to live long enough to accomplish the task. The Vital Records Newspaper Index on his web page indicates the papers he is working with.
This all got started when Phil retired from the phone company in 1998 and came to Ukiah to research his family genealogy. He ended up volunteering at the Held-Poage Research Library from 1998-2015. During that time, Kevin McConnell, publisher of the Ukiah Daily Journal, digitized his collection of microfilm from the Journal and its many precursors, and Phil saw how much faster and easier that made his research. He suggested that the county historical society do the same with the microfilm collection it had, but he realized that none of the historical entities, and few of the newspapers, in the county had the time or the money to take on such a project.
He had plenty of time, so he purchased a microfilm scanner and began to work. His plan was to distribute copies of the scanned newspapers on expansion drives to the county historical organizations, libraries, and the newspapers that agreed to participate. So far, he has placed a full digital run of the Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate-News, and a partial run of the Point Arena Record, with the following archives: the Kelley House; the Fort Bragg-Mendocino Coast Historical Society; the Fort Bragg Advocate-News/Mendocino Beacon Newspaper Office; and the Held-Poage Research Library in Ukiah. The Ukiah papers are available online on subscription sites.
He also intends to donate expansion drives to organizations like the Mendocino County Museum in Willits and the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah. He wants to give researchers as many places as possible to see the information they need at no cost. As he makes a distribution, he installs on MCI a link to each organization’s web site so that everyone can see who has what.
Originally, Phil posted his web page on the Rootsweb free pages, but when that server went down in 2017, he contacted the US Genweb and that site was happy to house his data on their server as part of the CA Genweb. At present, Phil co-manages the Mendocino County page, still concentrating on his MCI work, but eventually he will take over the whole Mendocino county Genweb page and manage it all as one group.
Phil invites all who are interested to visit his web page and check out the databases and links he has there. If you need help or have further questions, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to peruse the back pages of the Beacon or Advocate News, visit the Kelley House Museum during office hours, M-F from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.