How Do You Look at Old Obituaries From a Long Time Ago?


Quick Answer

To find an old obituary, check to see if it has been placed on a national index. If it has not been indexed yet, identify the local newspaper where the person died, and look at the newspaper editions that were published for several days after the death to see if it appears.

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Full Answer

  1. Check national obituary indexes

    Check online for national obituary indexes that are either free or low cost. There are many available, and the number grows every day, but one of the most widely used is Ancestry.com. Type in as much information as possible about the person's life to increase the chances of finding the correct obituary.

  2. Find the death date and location

    If the obituary is not found in an index, then find it yourself by locating the correct newspaper issue. First, identify the date of the person's death and the location by looking at the death certificate or other available records.

  3. Find possible newspapers

    Identify local newspapers from the place where the person lived as well as newspapers in other places associated with the person. Identify where the children lived, for example, or where the family was prominent. Use an online search engine to identify possible newspapers. Always check the dates when the newspapers were published to ascertain which papers were actually published at the time of death.

  4. Locate the targeted newspapers' back issues or archives

    When doing an online search, make note of whether the newspapers have been filmed or whether digital copies are available online. Contact the newspapers if necessary to ask where to find old copies. Call libraries in the area about accessing old newspapers if contacting the newspaper directly is not an option.

  5. Check the newspapers for the obituary

    Starting with the date of death, check every issue of the targeted papers for the obituary. Realize that it might be several days or even a month or so after the death before an obituary is published in a newspaper.

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