Most newspapers offer viewing of online obituaries through the paper’s website. Some newspapers also make obituaries available online through Legacy.com, which, as of 2015, has a database of more than 20 million recent obituaries. Other sites, such as ObituaryData.com and National Obituary Archive, include millions of recent and archived obituaries.
Legacy.com also operates Obituaries.com and Tributes.com. In addition to viewing obits, people are allowed to sign an online guest book or write a message of condolence. As of 2015, Legacy.com works with over 1,500 newspapers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and receives over 24 million visitors monthly.
Because obituary information is often helpful in genealogical research, some genealogy websites include recent and much older obituaries. These sites include Ancestry.com and its affiliate sites, USGenWeb and RootsWeb. Some newspapers and online obituary sites may charge a fee to view older obituaries. Viewing obituaries through genealogy websites may require a subscription or membership to the site.
Death announcements have been published in American since the 16th century, but were short and typically for more well-known people. In the 1880s, longer obituaries were more common, as was the trend of death journalism; graphic details of the deceased cause of death were included in the obituary.