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Searching the Web for Obituaries


       Since there are so many web sites that contain obituaries, and more obituaries are posted every day, it's a good idea to take a quick look for an obituary on the Web before contacting a lookup volunteer.  One way is to check one or two major obituary sites; the other is to use a search engine to search many sites at once.

       Because of copyright laws, obituaries published in 1923 or later may not be available in their entirety, but rather as abstracts that list just the name, the newspaper that published the obit, and the date of publication.  (However, even this information is helpful, because it makes an obituary lookup much easier.)


Search Obituary Web Sites

       With the many obituary sites available, it's helpful to select major sites to search.  (If you prefer to search many sites at once, see the Search All the Web section.)  The RootsWeb Message Boards and the USGenWeb Obituary Project are good places to check, and there are other links on the Other Obituary Links page. 

       The RootsWeb Message Board Localities page has links to world regions, and on each page you make a more specific geographical selection until you reach the pages with messages for the desired county or region.  To avoid having to work through most of these pages, go to the desired state or country page on our site and use the direct link (below the volunteer listings) to the corresponding location on the RootsWeb Message Boards. 

       Then, to view the obituary messages, select Obituary from the View Message Type menu.  The Search link allows you to search for a name on all boards or just the board you're on. 

       The USGenWeb Obituary Project is organized by state.  While some areas have more obituaries a than others, the total number is growing.


Search All the Web

       Because there are so many web sites with obituaries, the quickest way to check for many of them at once is to use a search engine.  Google usually finds the largest number of genealogy-related sites, including those with obituaries.  (If you prefer to check one site at a time, see the Search Obituary Web Sites section.)

       For example, to find an obituary for Leslie Smithton who died in 1970, here are different possible keyword patterns to try in the search box in the search engine.  You will probably have to try several to get the link to the right obituary.  The quotes in the first few examples help make the search more precise, but if that doesn't work, the names without quotes may give more results.

"Smithton, Leslie" 1970
"Smithton, Leslie" obituary
"Leslie Smithton" 1970
"Leslie Smithton" obituary
Leslie Smithton 1970
Leslie Smithton obituary

       If you don't find the obituary with a search engine, it doesn't mean that it hasn't been posted or published.  It can take a year for web pages to be included in a search engine, and many web sites don't make it into a search engine for a long time.  See Search Obituary Web Sites to check major sites directly.


WE NEED VOLUNTEERS - Please consider volunteering
for your area, even on a limited basis, because every lookup
helps someone.  Becoming a Volunteer has more information.


To volunteer to do lookups in your area,
for questions about the mailing list,
for help with obit requests,
to report a broken link,
or for other comments or questions,
contact us.

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Last update 22 Sep 2010