Need an obituary?

I have never needed to find an obituary, but there are people who do. And, sometimes those people ask librarians for help. And, sometimes that librarian is me.

And the day after I started composing this post on the off-chance that someone might ask me for help in finding an obituary (I wanted to be ready, you know) someone asked me for help...you guessed it...with finding an obituary from the 1960s.

Before getting started, there are a few things to remember. Remember that it costs money to publish an obituary -- it is quite possible that the obituary one is searching for was never published. Another aspect to keep in mind is that each state, county, and city has different procedures for archiving obituaries. A third consideration is that obituaries (and other vital records) are not always freely available. Oftentimes there is a fee* associated with the research time, and/or a fee associated with ordering or viewing the documents. With those things in mind, there are a few avenues to begin the search.

Ancestor Hunt offers a free obituary search, and has compiled information from states, counties and cities on how to dig deeper to find those places that archive or search for obituaries.

The National Obituary Archive has over 55 million people on file, and is free to search, but definitely is not comprehensive.

Ancestry.com includes an obituary search. The search is free, but the information is not. If you have access to Ancestry.com through your local library, take advantage of it!

*My library system offers a fee-based research option called INFORM.

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