Doing an Obituary Search, the right way!

How can I do an obituary search?

Some people do an obituary search to check on a friend or a family member they have lost touch with or who may have passed away. There are some people who do the obituaries search to get information about their ancestors or the ancestral lineage of a county or state. It has been noticed that people researching about epidemics and family disease history also indulge in an obituary search.


The obituary search can be done both offline and online. To find the information of the obituary you are looking for, you will need to have the basic details of the deceased, like the full name, date of demise, the location of death and the social security number. If you do not have these details, finding the obituary is going to be a cumbersome task and even a third-party agency will charge you more for the additional efforts.



Initiating an offline obituary search

It can be done through the public records office or the public library, which has the old issues of newspapers. The online way is quicker but the offline search mechanism is considered a full proof approach as many obituaries are not listed online. Such obituaries can only be found offline even though many newspapers have been maintaining an online record of the obituaries printed.


It is easy to get an issue of the old newspaper from the public library and make a copy of the obituary. A lot of big libraries have the issues of many years saved on micro films. Some have scanned copies of the more recent obituary section in their library computers.


A physical visit to the local public library may not yield anything, if the obituary you are looking for is for a person from another state. In such cases, you will have to call the public library of the location of the deceased and request them to search for the records on your behalf.


You can only hope to get help from them as they are not obligated to perform the search on your behalf and provide you with the required details. However, you can try asking them to transfer it to your nearest library through a procedure called the “Inter library loan”.



Conducting an online obituary search

This is definitely the best way to do a search, as such details are available for most years on the official websites of newspapers for free. There are also many non-government sites that provide this information. However, watch out for frauds as there are many sites that ask for a fee but do not provide authentic records.


But there are some genuine sites as well that provide investigative services and help you to get the information you need. There is no way to determine how much the fee would be for such a service. There are also many sites that provide free search during the trial period.


Sometimes obituary records are difficult to find because they are not available online or offline. This happens if the newspaper company that reported it has closed down. Also many times, there are a lot of obituaries that are not printed for various reasons. In such scenarios, you can visit the newspaper office and get the unpublished obituaries index.


Some genealogical sources give details or pictures of tombstones and the inscriptions, death certificates or death records and funeral home or church records. If you don’t know the exact date when the obituary might be published, try looking at the obituaries published in the first two weeks after death.



What information can I find in the obituary Index?

The obituary index comprises of basic information like the first and the last name of the deceased with their date of birth, age, date of demise, the name of the spouse, the county, state and the name of the source that is the newspaper in which the obituary was published. Mostly, the obituary index of a state covers a list of all the obituaries printed in all the newspapers in the state.



How can I access the obituary archive?

If you are searching for an obituary that is decades old, you may not find it online or at the public library. In such a case, you will have to travel to the nearest state or national library and look for the old issues of news papers stored in the archives.



Helpful tips to do obituary search

  • – Search all the possible spelling formations of the first name and the last name.
  • – Search obituaries by the name of an organization, religious group or recreation group.
  • – Look for published obituaries in the city or town where the person passed away and the city, town or state where the person was born or lived the better part of his life.
  • – Do not get confused between the death notice and the obituary, as many newspapers categorize them differently since they are prized differently and have different length of written
  • – Try to find out if the newspaper office provides a copy of the obituary for a fee, but don’t expect all the newspapers to have this service.

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