TRAILS (Tampa History Research Automated Index to Library Services) is a project originally created by Norma and Arthur Schmidt of Riverview, Florida. The data in TRAILS includes local newspaper obituary information from 1855 through 1990. (The data from 1855 through 1894 was researched by Julius Gordon.)
Death notices, obituaries, and funeral notices from the Tampa Tribune and its predecessor newspapers in Tampa were indexed and entered into TRAILS. Volunteers are currently adding obituaries from Tampa's African-American newspaper, the Florida Sentinel Bulletin.
An index listing typically includes the name of the person and a reference to the year, month, and day on which one of these death-related notices appeared in the newspaper. Using this information, you can locate the obituary using the microfilm of the newspapers, available at the John F. Germany Public Library in downtown Tampa or at the University of South Florida (USF) Tampa Library. You can print the obituary, save the image to a flash drive, or email the image to whatever email address you choose.
To access and use TRAILS:
- Go to the website for the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative (www.hcplc.org).
- Click the "Search Catalog" button at the top of the screen.
- Use the "Using:" drop-down menu to choose TRAILS.
- Enter the search terms into the keyword search box.
- Click the "Go!" button.
For example, if you enter Milton 1940, you'll be presented with a list of results. In this case, click on Milton, Gennie; 1940. You'll be presented with another page that provides more information about the Tampa Tribune listing, including the Section and page. In this case, there is something in the paper under F.N. (Funeral Notices) on page 2.