Uncovering Obituaries: A Guide to Finding Obituary Records for Specific Individuals

Trying to track down an obituary for someone? With the Internet’s vast library of records and search capabilities, chances are it could be found online. Here is how you can search obituaries:

Learn if everyone receives an obituary upon death; how to find one for free; if online obituaries exist;
How to Locate Someone’s Obituary from Years Ago
Obituaries (sometimes called death notices) serve an essential function in informing communities that someone has died, yet there can be subtle distinctions between what we commonly understand as an obituary and more basic death notice.

An obituary serves as a testament to someone’s life and achievements over their lifespan, such as notable careers or volunteer efforts. Such details might be highlighted within an obituary.

An obituary is typically written as an article in newspapers, sometimes even by newspaper reporters assigned the task of creating them after notable local residents die. Most papers also accept submissions of obituaries from families and friends for a fee.

An effective death notice written with genealogy in mind typically lists basic information about the individual who passed, including their parents, spouse, children and grandchildren. Death notices may be printed by newspapers for a fee.

For this article’s purposes, the term obituary and death notice will be used interchangeably. Both announcements provide invaluable assistance for genealogist or family tree researcher.

Before embarking on your search for an obituary for someone specific, it is wise to collect as much basic information about them as possible. Knowing more about a deceased friend, relative, or ancestor makes finding their obituary much simpler.

Details that can aid in finding an online or newspaper death notice include:

Assemble this information: Full name including any middle names; city/state of birth; place/region where they lived when they died; where and date of burial/interment may have taken place, along with any names of any spouses of deceased individuals who may have survived; year of death (includes both dates); any potential survivors and their partners and any possible beneficiaries, which include any potential donors to the scholarship funds (ie: spouse, dependents).
Names and contact info of their children (including married names of daughters); as well as names and first initials of both of their parents; where they went to high school or college; whether or not they served in the military, and what professions they held.
Volunteer and community activities they participated in.
Names of Grandchildren
Even if you think that you didn’t know the individual well enough to remember all this information, chances are good that there may be details in their obituary that make recognizing who they were easier.

Does the person ever mention traveling to visit family, or where they attended college? These could provide clues as to the location where they were born.

Any details that were mentioned to you directly by them or that came through from relatives could help locate an obituary for your relative or friend with an uncommon name. This step may prove particularly crucial.

Do I Know Where I Can Locate An Obituary Freely? There are various methods available to you for free finding someone’s obituary online; if their death occurred post-2000 for instance, chances are good you could locate theirs here on the Internet.

Many funeral homes provide their families with the option of publishing online obituaries or death notices as part of the services they receive, while various websites also syndicate these notices directly to funeral homes.

Many will be able to utilize these free online obituaries as an introduction into family tree research, since most of us have seen at least one of our relatives pass away within the last twenty years. You could potentially discover information on your grandparents, great-grandparents, or even great-great grandparents; including where they were born, siblings’ names or even parents’.

Legacy.com provides free online sites for obituaries that allow you to search by country, name, city and date of obituary obituary, giving you plenty of search options. Try entering as many variations of details you know as there may be multiple people with similar names who share similar obituary announcements.

Dignity Memorial is another excellent tool for quickly finding relatively recent obituaries, offering both an advanced search function and time frame search capability.

Recent online obituaries will usually include photos taken and submitted by family members.

Can You Locate Obituaries Online? Absolutely. Obituaries may be found both free of charge and for purchase from paid collections of digital records.

Even if the obituary you want cannot be found for free, it might still be worthwhile paying a small amount so as to gain access to its record. As previously discussed in this post, these articles contain invaluable pieces of knowledge that could aid your search process.

Before committing to pay for an obituary record online, I suggest conducting some searches first using your relative’s details on Google (or similar search engines). Many old newspapers and books may now be freely accessible online – you could potentially discover them for free this way.

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