How to Search for Obituaries or Death Notices

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 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

  • 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 .

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