Finding a Past Obituary

Newspaper archives are one source for obituaries.

Finding a past obituary can be a bit challenging, but a number of resources are available. You have the option of searching online or using off-line sources to find the information you need.

Sources for Finding a Past Obituary

Online Sources

If the death occurred fairly recently, you may be able to find the person's obituary posted online. A search for "obituary + online" will give you more than 900,000 hits. Here are a few examples of sites that post obituaries online at no charge:Free Obituaries Online offers an extensive list of links to online resources for obituaries. Site visitors can will find links to sites from:

  • Canada
  • United States
  • Australia
  • England, Ireland and Scotland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand

You can also access a number of obituary databases for specific family names.

Another option from finding a past obituary online is to visit FuneralNet.com. Simply type the last name of the person you are looking for into the search box and a list of names (including date and location of death) will appear. Clicking on a name will take you directly to that individual's obituary.

Memorial Online also publishes obituaries online. Having the month and year of death will help to narrow down the search results, but it is possible to conduct a search with the person's name only.

Visit the Web site for the newspaper serving the area where the person died. You may be able to access their online obituary archives for a small fee or you may need to actually subscribe to the online version of the newspaper to access the death notices.

Searching for Obituaries Off-line

If you have completed your online search and are having still trouble finding a past obituary, then you still have the option of using off-line resources.

Your local library may be able to help you access archived newspapers on microfiche. If you know the approximate date of death, this information will help you narrow down your search. The librarian can help you find the records you are looking for and you will be able to print out a copy once you find the obituary you are looking for.

If you are looking for an obituary in a different area and you are unable to travel there to search for records, the local historical or genealogical society may be able to help. When you contact one of these organizations, provide them with as much information as possible about the person's obituary. Since it is possible for two people to have similar names, you will want to include:

  • The deceased's full name (and maiden name if applicable)
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • Next of kin (spouse and/or children)

Some historical societies charge a fee to conduct a record search. If the one you contact does not charge a fee, at least offer to provide payment to cover the cost of gas and photocopying records.

The funeral home that handled the person's final arrangements may also be able to help you locate an obituary. Once again, you will need to provide as much information as possible, since this information would be provided to you as a courtesy. You may need to prove that you are a family member to receive this information, depending on the privacy laws in the jurisdiction where you are conducting your search.

Finding a past obituary may take some time, but with the many resources available, you have a very good chance of finding this information. Once you have the obituary in hand, you can add it to your personal records or use it to fill in some blanks on your family tree.

Finding a Past Obituary