Using Obituaries for Genealogy

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Obituaries may be one of the most underused sources of information about families. Especially in small town papers, an obituary may contain a small life story of the relative, names of those who died earlier, and those who survive, usually including their location. This information about location makes it possible to track these relatives down and through census data, add them to your tree. In addition, the obituary may include date of birth and names of parents, including mother's maiden name.

Keep in mind, however, that some of this information may not be completely accurate. Whoever puts the information together might be under stress under the circumstances or just misinformed.

Local newspapers also have a great deal of information beyond obituaries. If your family lived in a small town with a newspaper and you have important dates from the time, like a family wedding, you can find information about them in local newspapers. Marriages, school graduations, and military service information can often be found in these newspapers.

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 Search Advisor.