An educational guide to learn how to find an obituary online for free. Finding Obituaries on the web is a little bit complicated because not every record is available online. However, using these resources you will surely find some clues that navigate you to the contact pages such as office addresses and phone numbers which you can use to start your offline obituary research.
Question: What is an obituary?
Answer: An obituary is a published notice of a person’s death.
Usually, family members or the funeral homes are responsible for placing an obituary in local newspapers to announce a death.
Most of the newspapers publish a section for daily obituaries but they do not have their online versions. So it is hard to find each and every record online. The following set of websites will help you to take your first step for finding information both on the web and the offline places.
Following are the things you need to prepare before going to start your online research. It will surely save your time and energy. Collect and note down the following information.
- last name
- first name
- place of residence
- place of death
- date of death
It is better to have the information mentioned above. As stated above, obituaries are normally printed in local newspapers. The name of the person along with their location can help you know the location of the newspaper in which the obituary was published. And the date of death will help you find the date of newspaper publication.
In case, if you don’t have the date of death, don’t worry. We have a solution for you. Just use the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for this purpose. Please see the screenshot for more detailed information. Visit ” U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014″ page.
Online Sources for Obituaries
Please keep in mind, missing any piece of information can affect your research. For example, if you don’t have the city or state in which the person died, it will definitely create hurdles for finding an obituary. That’s why this information is vital. So if you have the first name, last name, city, and state, then you can start your search online right now.
Question: How do you find out where someone is buried?
Now I am going to show you top websites which you can use to search an obituary for free.
1. Local Newspapers
Usually, obituaries can be found in local newspapers. Almost all major newspapers publish their online editions but they keep obituaries records for not more than three months. So if you are looking for a recent death, then this option can help you to find your desired record. If you know the newspaper name, then you can directly search on Google to find their domain or visit Obituaries.com, which contains direct links to the online newspaper’s obituary pages. More resources for news archives.
- Obituaries.com: Find obituaries from major newspapers in the United States. The site is organized very well containing all major newspaper’s obituary sections. They also designed a comprehensive search engine to find an obituary. To search an obituary, provide first name, last name, select time period from the drop-down, select country, state and finally click the search button to view the search results. Obituaries.com offers records not only form the United States but also from ten other countries including Canada, England, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and some others.
- Google News Archive Search: Contains scanned archives of newspapers from all over the world along with links to other newspaper archives on the internet.
- US News Archives: Direct links to global archives arranged by state.
- International News Archives: Papers are arranged by region and country.
- The local library is another place where you can find digital editions of newspapers. If you have a library card or a membership, then you can explore the digital archive of your library. To find a library, check out the library locator
2. Ancestry.com Obituary Finder
Ancestry.com is world’s largest database providing a variety of documents including obituaries, census, birth, marriage, divorce and death records. Usually, people use the search box to track down the required data. The toll is free and everybody can use without having an account or registration sign up. But keep in mind they offer a free trial for two weeks.
To start a free trial, go to the site home page, Click “Free Trial” button located at the top right side of the page. Now select a plant. Ancestry.com offers two different subscription plans with three further options.
- Free Trial: 14 days free trial – Sign up to create your account.
- S. Discover: $19.99/month – You can access the only United States based records.
- World Explorer: $34.99/month – Access United States and international records.
- All Access: $44.99/month – Get full access to all products including Ancestry, Newspapers.com, and Fold3.com
3. Legacy.com Search Obituaries
The site offers millions of obituaries records from more than 800 U.S. and international newspapers. It covers more than 66 percent of all U.S. deaths. They create a comprehensive site search engine, which allows users to find obituaries from more than 1700 newspapers and 4,000 funeral homes not only from the United States but also from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries.
To find an obituary, go to http://www.legacy.com/search, enter the first name, last name, select country, state, city and then time-period range when the person died. Click “Search” button to view the results.
4. Mennonite Archives
If you are looking for an obituary record for the person who belongs to the Mennonite faith, then explore Mennonite archives. It organized the record alphabetically by the first name along with year of death.
5. Nova Scotia Obituaries
With more than 67,000 obituaries, Nova Scotia contains records for Nova Scotians. The site integrated a search box to find an obituary. To find, go to the search page by clicking “Search Obituaries” button located on the top navigation. In the search text field, enter deceased’s last name and first name and click the search button to view results.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For Obituaries
Don’t worry, if online resources are not helpful, we have some offline tips and tricks which you can follow to find the desired information.
1. Funeral Homes
Find out the funeral home located in the area where the person has died. To search funeral homes, go to Legacy.com funeral home directory. They integrated a search section along with United States map having all states over it. To view search results, select country, state, city or zip code, and press search button. You can also use the map to go to the specific state page.
The result page contains a comprehensive listing of funeral homes along with address, phone number, email address and location map. The information is enough and you can use to contact and ask them for the required record.
2. Public Library
Your local library is the first place where you can find the hard copies of local and national newspapers. If the person you are looking for was from your nearest area, then definitely you will find their obituary in the newspaper. For the old record, ask the librarian to provide old editions of newspapers.