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How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person

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Locating an obituary online can be as simple as entering the person’s name

Locating an obituary is easier than ever thanks to online resources such as digital editions of newspapers and funeral home websites. 

Perhaps you are digging into the family history. Or maybe you are trying to locate details about an old school mate or find funeral information for a colleague’s loved one who has died. Whatever your reasons, an obituary is an invaluable source of information about a person’s life and death. 

Obituaries have long been published in print in local newspapers. Nowadays, many obituaries can be found online, published digitally on the websites of newspapers and funeral homes, as well as on remembrance sites like Legacy. 

The local library remains a good place to look for older obituaries, with library newspaper archives often dating back a century or more. 

Below we identify the best obituary search resources and how to use online and offline tools to find the obituary you need. 

Newspapers 

If you know the newspaper, or at least the town where a person lived and died, then a newspaper website can be a good place to begin. Many newspapers have digitized their archives, making it easier to locate older obituaries as well as recently published obituaries. While newspaper websites differ, you can usually find a link to “Obituaries” and/or “Death Notices” in the main menu. From there, you can browse or search recent notices and, in some cases, see historical obituaries dating back many decades. 

For a fee, you can search Newspapers.com with newspaper archives dating back to the 1700s. 

Legacy.com 

The Legacy online obituary database has hundreds of millions of obituaries dating back two decades, and includes obituaries from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. You can search by country, state or province, and city or town, as well as by newspaper, keyword, and date range. 

Always free to search and browse, Legacy.com offers many ways to locate obituaries. Search all obituaries by name, location, death date, and newspaper, or search by any keyword or phrase. You can also browse by location:

 

Genealogy Websites 

Ancestry

The world’s largest online genealogy resource, Ancestry.com provides access to numerous historical records, including obituaries, making it a great source of information about previous generations. Ancestry is a subscription service with multiple pricing options. You can sign up for a free trial but will need to subscribe to continue using the site after two weeks. Under the Search menu, select “Birth, Marriage & Death” then click on “Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries” to narrow your search. You can also filter by location and date range to help you locate the information you need.  

MyHeritage

Genealogy site MyHeritage.com also offers extensive genealogical records including obituaries. Like Ancestry, MyHeritage is a subscription service and offers a 2-week free trial. Under the Research tab, click “Birth, Marriage & Death” then select “Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries.” You can then search by name, date, location, and keyword to help you find the right obituary. 

AfriGeneas

AfriGeneas.com features a comprehensive collection of resources related to African American genealogy. On the Search page, you can search under “Death Records” to find obituaries and death certificates for black Americans. Filter by name, year, city, and state to narrow your search and locate the information you need.

Web Search

Sometimes a simple search on Google or other web browser can be the quickest way to get the info you need. Enter the person’s full name plus the word “obituary.” This will allow you to see a wide selection of results, including from sources that might not be included in other databases, like small family-owned funeral homes.

Public Libraries

The local library in the place where the deceased lived or died can be a great resource for obituary archives. Libraries typically subscribe to local newspapers and preserve them digitally or on microfilm for future generations.

Additionally, the library may offer members free access to research sites and databases such as Ancestry, HeritageQuest, or Newspapers.com. Librarians themselves are also great resources and can help you narrow your search and find the obituary you are looking for.


 

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