Follow are some more creative ideas that you might try if you struck out in your search using more standard methods. Keep in mind that not everyone has an obituary. But don't give up until you exhaust these options.
- Was this a newsworthy death, a result of a traffic accident, crime, or other unusual circumstance? If so, the newspaper articles will be helpful in providing death information and will be fascinating reading. Read the articles for clues to related articles that may appear in later issues. For example, I found up an obituary for a pedestrian killed by an automobile. The accident resulted in a coroner's inquest that was held later in the week.
- If you're doing your own microfilm readings, really scour the newspaper. While some newspapers list their obituaries in a specific column, others scatter obits throughout the pages. We've found obits listed in the sports section and among the legal notices. Death notices are often listed among the legal notices, in tiny typeface. But look throughout the newspaper to make sure you don't miss an obit.
- Obits are usually printed two to three days after the death date; however, I have seen them as many as nine days later. It's easy to advance a film reel a few more cranks while you're at the library. Don't limit your search.
- When I find an obituary, I make a copy of the front page of the newspaper, as well as grocery and merchandise advertisements that are printed in the same issue. I learn more about the time that my relative was living, and I find it interesting to put the death event in context with current world and local events.
- Many residents of Los Angeles lived somewhere else before moving to the Golden State. Look outside of LA for an obituary, if the individual lived for an extended period of time in another city or state. Obituaries for Los Angeles residents who lived in other parts of the United States -- particularly in small and medium sized communities -- are often found in these other newspapers.
- Church newsletters sometimes include the text of obituaries. If the local church does not have a copy, you may be able to contact church regional or district headquarters, which often maintain files of congregational newsletters.
- The LDS Family History Centers maintain a number of films on church records from various denominations. I rented films from the church from my childhood and found very detailed records. Not only did they have the text of obituaries, they also recorded what food was served at the after-service meal and which ladies of the church helped to serve the meal.
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- Some cemeteries maintain obituaries of the residents of that cemetery. Inquire to see if you can obtain records from the cemetery or funeral director. A Lot Card can contain information on the individuals buried in a plot. You might be able to find out who bought the plot, and obtain current contact information for the family, in addition to death and burial data. I obtained several obituaries from a cemetery where my family was buried in Iowa.
- Along the same line, some funeral directors maintain obituary files. Also, don't forget to look in the funeral memory book. In addition to giving you leads on relatives and friends of the decedent, many funeral homes will include a copy of the obituary in the guest book.
- Begging may yield a cherished copy of a yellowed, tattered obituary. Ask relatives and close family friends if they happened to keep a copy of an obituary. I was pleasantly surprised to find an obituary carefully tucked behind a framed photo of my dad.
- Refer to obituaries for other family members for hints on the ancestor you are tracking. I found the notation, "Mr. Family Member preceded her in death on July 31, 1941." This was great because I had no idea when Mr. Family member died. I locate siblings' obits to find out the married names of sisters, which of the family members are already deceased, and where the rest of the family is now residing.
- If the decedent was employed at the time of death, you may want to contact the Human Resources office at the place of employment. They may have put one in the personnel file.
- Membership in the Masons or Elks or other fraternal organization or community group may be another route to follow. If you can't find a telephone directory listing for the association or organization, call the local Chamber of Commerce. They usually maintain a contact file.
- Many genealogy volunteers are building obituary indexes (in some cases transcribing the obituaries) and placing them online on message boards. You may be surprised to find a family member's obituary listed. If you are searching a relatively uncommon name, go to Google and enter the name of your family member. Try various forms of the name, including initials, nicknames, with and without the middle name. If you're unfamiliar with Google's search techniques, review them on the Google site.
California Genealogy Forum on www.genealogy.com
Los Angeles County Email List on Rootsweb
Los Angeles Message Board on Rootsweb
Ventura County Email List on Rootsweb
Ventura County Message Board on Rootsweb
San Diego County Email List on Rootsweb
San Diego County Message Board on Rootsweb
San Bernardino County Email List on Rootsweb
San Bernardino County Message Board on Rootsweb
Orange County Email List on Rootsweb
Orange County Message Board on Rootsweb
Riverside County Email List on Rootsweb
Riverside County Message Board on Rootsweb
SoCal Email List on Rootsweb
California Census Lookups on Rootsweb
California Death Index Lookups on Rootsweb
California Records Lookups on Rootsweb
Obituary Daily Times
Genealogy Lookup Forum
Miscellaneous California Obituaries
US Newspapers Obituary
Obituaries Link Page
Obits.com - The Internet Obituary Network
Ancestor Hunt Obituary Search
USGenWeb Archives - California Obituaries
Obit Links Page
Obit Central Los Angeles California
Obit Central other areas
Downey Eagle - back issues with obituaries
West Coast Obituaries
Do you have other suggestions for creative places to look? Send us an email to add your ideas to this list.