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How to Find Obituaries From Over 10 Years Ago

by Jennifer Holik

Locating an obituary older than 10 years has become easier as newspapers are digitized and placed online. Companies like Legacy, Newspaper Archive and Ancestry.com have an abundance of U.S. papers and obituaries online. Newspapers that have not been digitized may be harder to locate. Contacting libraries in the city and county in which the person died may lead you to a collection of older newspapers or published books listing obituary indexes or full obituaries.

Search Online Collections

Search the website of one of the newspaper archive holders like ancestry.com, legacy.com or newspaperarchive.com.

Enter the surname of the deceased. Select the time period for the obituary or the date of death. In some searches, less information is better and you'll get a wider range of results.

Click "search" to see if the obituary is in the collection.

Search Paper Collections

Visit the library in the town or county in which the deceased died. Ask to search old newspaper indexes or the papers themselves.

Search an index. Some newspapers have been indexed by local historical and genealogical societies. Using the index to locate an obituary will speed up your search. Search the newspaper if thee is no index. Start with the days following the death. If you are unsure about the exact date, start by searching the month when the person died.

Search published obituaries. In addition to indexing obituaries, some societies have published volumes with full obituaries. Ask the librarian about these resources.

Warning

  • There are times when an obituary will not be located because one was not written and printed.

About the Author

Jennifer Holik, a professional genealogist, has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes for Chicago-area genealogy society publications. Holik has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.