The Archives Service Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh acquired the Allegheny County Coroner Case Files in 1982. These files document the legal and medical proceedings of untimely and suspicious deaths from 1887 to 1973. Their wealth of information includes witness accounts and affidavits, physician’s notes, press reports, legal documents, photographs and reports of re-enactments.
Before the project, retrieving case files was a time-consuming affair because the collection lacked an index. You had to know the date of death in order to conduct an effective search. To improve access, the ASC staff worked along with the students’ processing efforts to create a name index. The result: a database of approximately 206,000 individual names, dates and docket numbers. Now, with just a first and last name, archivists can determine if a file exists within seconds.
Wendy Pflug, ASC Reference Archivist