One of the main goals for genealogists in searching historic newspapers is to find obituaries. Obituaries are a gold mine of information. They provide death dates and locations, funeral and cemetery information and more importantly – information about the relatives of the deceased’s family and extended family. This family name information is often not found anywhere else.
For a good summary of what kind of pertinent information you can find in obituaries, click on 32 Reasons Why Searching for Obituaries is Like Finding Gold
In the old days, finding obituaries required flipping though old newspapers in libraries or newspaper rooms. It was a tedious process, but all we had. Today, this is called “browsing”.
Over the past few decades, thanks to volunteers, librarians, and archivists, these old newspapers began to be microfilmed, and more recently, digitally scanned. And the microfilms have been scanned as well. So now, flipping through these digital representations of the old newspapers is much more easily accomplished.
With the addition of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), dots on a newspaper page can now be interpreted as letters or symbols, forming words, and complete articles. And with the advent of crowdsourcing and text correction, the OCR results can now be improved by users of online newspaper collections.
Where are Obituaries?
In short, obituaries can be found in four places:
You can still find original newspapers in libraries and archives
Microform representation of newspapers can be found in libraries and archives.
Digitized online newspaper collections that are provided by libraries, archives, and many commercial and other suppliers.
Obituary and Obituary Index collections that are provided by libraries, genealogical and historical societies, and general representations in free online sites such as FamilySearch and Rootsweb. Many of the indexes might represent entries in scrapbooks and file folders held at libraries and societies.
Where are Online Obituaries Found?
The creators of online obituary collections include:
Newspaper scanning entities
Public and Academic Libraries
Mortuaries and Funeral Homes
Genealogical and Historical Societies
School & Alumni Associations