AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum
Tips on how to find Obituaries.
I have a big binder filled with obituaries of people related to me. Someone recently asked me how I find so many relevant obituaries. I thought that I would share some tips:
First, find the major newspaper for the city/county that you are looking for. Then find the major newspaper for the whole region. A lot of times you will find obituaries for both. These obituaries will usually be different. If one has a photo, the other may not. If one mentions relatives by name, the other may just say for example "one aunt, two uncles". If your relative moved away from the rest of the family check where they moved to and where they grew up.
See if your newspaper has a website. See if you can search the obituary archives. Read the "search tips" or "advanced search" options to narrow things down.
See if your library has newspapers on microfilm. See if they have an index in book form or online. Also check if your local library's website has a genealogy section that mentions newspapers. For mine, I type in the library card number and get to search the local newspaper's index. I can also search The Washington Post from the late 1800's to 1991 for free. Plus, you can print actual articles and obituaries for free (which I have many times).
If you buy the newspaper in the area in which you are searching, cut out every obituary that has your family's name mentioned. Just yesterday, I realized that 2 obituaries that I cut out years ago are relatives. Just make sure to label the newspaper it came from and the date.
Some newspapers have a "In Memoriam" area next to the obituaries so, check that area a year from the date that your relative died (or for a special event in that person's life like birthday/anniversary). Sometimes family members post condolences on those dates.
If you go to cemeteries, write down or photograph every gravestone with your family's name. If you have a little more time, do the same with the females with other last names. Males with other surnames can be done last. Then check the newspaper archives/microfilm for obituaries with these names, right after the death dates on the gravestones.
Once you have obituaries, read them every so often to remember names that go together or females with married names. This comes in handy when you come across an obituary by accident.
I, every couple of months search the internet for random information. I type into a search engine the surname I am looking for and the county/city or church/cemetery that I think that the relative may be associated with. I have many times found obituaries of distant relatives that I never looked for. Many who have recently passed away. You never know what information is out there.
Check for websites that list obituary dates such as Rootsweb under Obituary Daily Times.
Hope that this helps somebody.