The Problem With Using Obituaries for Researching Your Ancestry
It is really easy to find recent obituaries. This can be done using specific newspaper websites or general obituary websites like Legacy.com. The problem is that you are unlikely to find obituaries before the late 1800s and in some places before the early 1900s. Obituaries just weren't printed in the newspaper for most people. Notable people who died were mentioned in newspaper articles, but most people were not. Printing a newspaper back then was a laborious process, because they required typeseting by hand. As a result, many newspapers were only four pages, which did not leave much room for anything but the most important news. Starting in the late 1880s, however, the Linotype Machine was used to typeset newspapers. The easier typesetting allowed for espansion beyond the four pages and provided room for more content—including obituaries.
Two Options For Locating an Obituary
Option 1: Search Online for an Obituary
- Legacy.com This is good for relatively recent obituaries.
Option 2: Contact a Local Volunteer to Find an Obituary
There are people who volunteer to research newspapers at historical societies and other repositories.
Additional Resources Related to Obituaries
Not Sure, Try Our Free Online Genealogy Search Advisor
If you are not sure that searching for an obituary is the next best option for your research, consider using the advice feature of this site. This will help you pick your next best steps in your research. Go to the Free Online Genealogy Search Advisor.
Obituaries Search Guide Context
Other Genealogy Search Guides
- Using Birth Records for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Marriage Records for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Death Records for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Ship Manifests for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Census Records for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Naturalization Records for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Historical Societies for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Church Records for Researching Your Ancestry
- Using Family Trees for Researching Your Ancestry
- Record Keeping for Researching Your Ancestry