Searching for a deceased relative? Fortunately, there’s a good possibility you’ll be able to find their obituary online—if you know what you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll teach you how to find an obituary for a specific person.
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Obituaries are a method of alerting a community about someone’s death. They are often called “death notices;” however, these two terms are not exactly the same. There are a few differences between an obituary and a death notice.
Both obituaries and death notices are extremely helpful when researching your family, so we’ll be talking about both in this article. Here is a quick overview of obituaries and death notices and their differences:
An obituary can be thought of as a tribute to a person’s life and accomplishments.
Some attributes that may be included in an obituary are: if they were well-known in the community, had a public-facing job, or were a volunteer, or other things like heartfelt thoughts from loved ones.
Generally, an obituary is published as an article and is often written by a local newspaper reporter; however, loved ones can usually pay a fee to write their own obituaries for the newspaper to publish.
Basic information about the person, such as their parents, spouse, children, and grandchildren, is part of the standard information that’s generally included in a death notice.
Loved ones can pay a fee to their local newspaper to print a death notice.
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How Can I Find Obituaries Online?
It’s true that you can look up old obituaries on the internet. Although some are available for free, they’ll often be found in paid digital record collections—and these can be worth paying for to receive all the additional information you’ll have access to!
But still, do a few Google searches using the information you already have about your family before you decide to pay, just in case.
A note regarding older obituaries—you’ll often be able to find the reason for death, which are crucial details when studying your genealogy!
And, a quick tip: When searching for obituaries online, try adding quotation marks around the person’s name. Also, search the person’s name along with any other relevant information, like where they lived or any close relatives.
When searching for an obituary, keep in mind that there is no law or legal reason for an obituary or death notice to be published. So, unfortunately, not everyone will have a death notice or obituary.
There are several reasons why a person may pass away without having an obituary published. For example, the person may not have had any close relatives to help with this, or the expense may have been exorbitant for the family.
In rare cases, a death notice may not be printed because the family has chosen not to. Perhaps the deceased’s relatives had a bad relationship with him, or the relatives desired privacy.
If you’ve been looking for an obituary for a long time and have done everything I’ve advised, it’s possible that your relative’s obituary was never printed.
However, it’s always good to double-check to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
What Tools Can I Use To Find Obituaries?
A free obituary may be found in a variety of places. If the person died after the year 2000, for example, you might be able to see their obituary for free on the internet.
Many people will be able to utilize these free online obituaries as a starting point in their family tree research because most of us have had relatives die within the last twenty years.
Obituaries for your grandparents, great grandparents, and even great-great-grandparents may be found online and may include details such as where they were born, siblings, and even the names of their parents.
You may search for obituaries on Legacy.com by country, name, city, and death date, giving you a lot of alternatives.
If you decide to use this tool, make an effort to utilize as many different variations of the details as possible, as there are many people with the same name.
Another good place to look for current obituaries is Dignity Memorial. There is also a search tool on this website that allows you to browse for information in a certain state or time period.
The majority of these online obituaries, especially those that have just been published, will include photographs supplied by family members.
If you’re looking for an obituary for a relative, the website Familysearch.org is a great place to start. While you won’t find complete information for every state—it’s free!
Their search function is rapid and flexible, enabling you to search the database for anyone with a certain last name, even if you don’t know their first name.
It is not only free, but it also allows you to search for records collections from many countries. Even if the documents aren’t translated, they’re often indexed in English, making it simpler to find what you’re looking for.
Newspapers.com is another great resource for old obituaries. More than 21,000 digitized and searchable newspapers dating back to the 1700s are available on this site. Not that this resource is NOT free. A monthly membership will be around $20/month after a seven-day free trial.
If you’ve looked for a free obituary online or an obituary via paid collections and your search has come up dry, consider a more hands-on approach—visiting the area where they lived, especially if it’s not too far!
While there, visit the library as another great resource. They may have access to collections of old local newspapers, and you can ask the librarian for their expert help in using their technology to search through the newspapers to find an obituary.
Also, note that obituaries may have appeared in the city or town where the person died, was born, or lived the most of their lives, so you may have a few places to explore.
In addition to local libraries, don’t forget about university libraries. (They are often open to the public, but still, look into any of their procedures for accessing their resources before you go.)
You might be able to access microfilmed obituaries for local and statewide obituaries, or you might be able to use the school’s research subscription services to find obituaries online.
Note that libraries may charge a small fee for printing pages.
There are a couple of ways for locating records for your ancestors that haven’t been indexed or scanned into one of those big records databases.
While collecting the papers mentioned in the procedures below may take a little more time, you will often find that the information obtained is really beneficial.
If you haven’t already, talk to all of your senior family members. Each and every one of them, if they are available and ready to speak with you.
What an older cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparent remembers about their grandparents or great-grandparents is difficult to anticipate.
Look for your ancestors in the newspaper. Local newspapers used to cover a wide range of events and activities, and one or more of them may have mentioned your ancestors.
Although some of the websites listed above may be able to supply newspaper records, don’t be afraid to call the newspaper’s physical office and inquire about how to search/access their archives.
When looking for your ancestor, don’t forget to use Google. “John Smith 1805” is a search keyword for their name and birth year, if available.
You could come across an obituary, a book on your ancestor, or even a family tree with your ancestor on the internet. Before you use the information, make sure it’s the same ancestor.
Now that you know how to find an obituary for a certain person on the internet, you can start your genealogical research!
Finally, a few more websites that you might find helpful are:
Genealogical Research Library
This is a cost-effective website. You may seek persons who are still alive as well as those who have passed away on the internet. A variety of historical texts, maps, and other objects may be downloaded for free.
It’s in the form of people mentioned in books, journals, and other publications, rather than the vital records and other resources that spring to mind when thinking about genealogy research, but it might be just as beneficial.
This website has a large number of records. There’s a 14-day free trial, which is great since it allows you to try it out and see whether it’s right for you.
They simplify the process of acquiring a copy of your ancestor’s birth, marriage, or death certificate from the state vital records office. On the site, you may also upload or create a family tree.
Even though most of the material on this site appears to be accessible elsewhere, having a single location that does everything for you is convenient. At the very least, it’s a great place to look around.
This website provides access to a vast number of records, as well as newspapers and obituaries, which may be quite helpful.
Other handy search options include the ability to find all newspapers published in a certain place during a specific time period.
Although Genealogy Bank’s subscription is less expensive than Ancestry’s, it does not include Ancestry’s public member trees. In addition, for the first month, there is a discounted trial rate, which is rather affordable in these circumstances.
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