How to Use Obituary Archives

by Christine Bryant

Obituaries are typically published in local newspapers, although some funeral homes list obituaries on their websites. These notices usually list the surviving relatives of the deceased person and a brief summary of that person's life achievements. Those desiring to research their genealogy often use obituaries to learn more about their family history. Obituaries also are useful for learning about past community leaders. Some newspaper and funeral home websites allow users to search for obituaries, both recent and notices dating back several years.

Go to the website of the local newspaper in the community where the deceased person lived, grew up or left behind surviving relatives. Other websites such as Legacy.com and some funeral homes also list archived obituaries, so if you cannot find the obituary in the newspaper and know the funeral home that handled the arrangements, visit that website instead.

Click on the link that says "obituaries." This link may be found on the home page or listed under another tab. For example, on the Columbus Dispatch website, you must first click on the "Local" tab and then click "Obituaries."

In the search field, enter the first and last name of the deceased person for whom you are searching. At the very least, you must enter a last name; however, if it is a common last name such as "Smith," your search may return a number of results.

Warning

  • Some newspaper websites may charge you a small fee to research the obituary archives. Other newspapers, including the New York Times, only allow searches on paid obituaries.

About the Author

Christine Bryant has been a writer for more than 10 years, working in the newspaper and magazine industries in the Richmond, Va., Chicago and Columbus, Ohio areas. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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