Obituary Search – Frequently Asked Questions

Are you trying to find Obituaries for a relative, friend, or ancestor? People will tell you that it is easy – just look in old newspapers, or if it is a recent death, just Google the person’s name to see if there is an online obituary, tribute, or memorial.

Here are several questions that you might have, with answers that will help you.

How Do I Find Someone Who Died?

Many current obituaries can be found online via a Google search. These obituaries may be found on obituary archive sites, newspaper websites, or on funeral home websites. You may even find some obituaries by doing a search on social media. If it is someone who died many years ago, you should search newspapers, do a Google search, or look on local library websites.

Obituary Genealogy Guide

How Do I Find the Newspaper Where the Obituary Resides?

Unless you visit a library with newspaper originals or access to a microfilm machine for newspapers that have been scanned, the easiest way is to search online newspapers. There are subscription newspaper databases and free historical newspaper collections. For free online collections, you should use The Ancestor Hunt’s lists of links to collections from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Access to links to over 75,000 titles can be achieved, by going to that site’s Newspaper Links Page.

How Do I Find an Obituary in a Newspaper?

If you are looking at the original local newspaper or a scanned copy, just go to the Obituary section in the few days following the death. If you are searching online, it is more difficult because the newspaper had to be scanned and the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process had to be applied. Depending on the quality of the original, you might need to be creative with your search criteria, especially if you do not have the date of death. Make sure that you are looking in the right location as well as making sure that the online newspaper collection has the date range that includes the date of death.

What if I Can’t Find the Newspaper?

Fortunately, public libraries, some genealogy sites, and genealogy societies have transcribed millions of newspaper obituaries, and they also have created obituary indexes that specify the deceased’s name, the title of the newspaper that contains the obituary, and the date of publication. Using The Ancestor Hunt’s Obituary Page will lead you to obituary and obituary index collections for the U.S. and Canada. It has about 20,000 links to free transcription, index, and clipping collections.

Do Libraries Have Obituaries?

Many libraries and genealogy societies have either transcribed obituaries in their local area or have created obituary indexes that list the deceased’s name, the title of the publication, as well as the date that the obituary was published. With this information, you can track down the newspaper that has the obituary in it. Often if you find the deceased in an index in a library or the library offers research services and the library has the newspaper, they may be able to send you a copy via email or postal mail.

What Are the Popular Online Memorial Sites?

Some of the most popular are Legacy.com’s Memorial websites, Forever Missed, and Ever Loved. To find a possible memorial site for someone who has passed away in recent years, look for these sites as well as complete a Google search.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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