Genealogy Research: Obituaries

Posted July 31, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

While researching your genealogy, you will come across lots of records that will help you solve the puzzle of your family history. One of the best resources for family history information are obituaries.

Obituaries can contain a wide range of information for the deceased, including:

  • First and last name
  • Maiden name
  • Birth and death dates
  • Cause of death
  • Names of family members
  • Birth and death location
  • Place of burial
  • Religious affiliation

In many cases, obituaries are written by someone who was close to the deceased, so you may even discover a fond memory or short story shared about your relative. These stories are incredibly valuable in illustrating how your ancestors lived and what they meant to others.

Take a look at the following obituary for Mrs. Laura E. Read from The Daily Gate City newspaper published Sunday, August 2, 1914.

The Daily Gate City, August 2, 1914 (click to zoom)

Reading the obituary, you will find loads of information about her life and family. She was born Laura Barrum in Mississippi on May 12, 1844 and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. She married Enos Reed in Union City on March 8, 1863 and then the couple came to Keokuk, Iowa. She died of kidney trouble on July 23, 1914 at her home near Corton. She was survived by her husband, an adopted daughter Mrs. Lula Perkins, two grandsons, Pearl and Orlando Perkins of Croton and a niece by marriage, Mrs. Mattie Taper of Peoria, Illinois. Her obituary tells us that she was well known in Keokuk. Her funeral took place that Saturday at the Croton Baptist church and she was buried in the Croton cemetery. In just a few short paragraphs, you now have multiple paths and clues to further research.

To find your ancestors obituaries, you can search MyHeritage’s Newspapers & Publications or Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries collections. Also, be sure to check your Record Matches for matching obituaries for your relatives.

Have you found valuable information in your ancestors’ obituaries? Share your finds with us in the comments below.

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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  • Adam Murphy

    Hey Amanda! Excellent article. If you want to get copies of physical death records I suggest you contact the county clerk where the deceased was from. I’ve been doing this myself to put together my own family lineage scrapbook. Might be helpful to check out http://www.county-clerks.com – I put it together myself after I realized there was not anywhere on the web where all the data was accurate or in one place :-) -Adam