02 October 2011

Alternative Sources for Obituaries

Barbara over at Life from the Roots had a post up recently about finding an ancestor's obituary information in a book dedicated to obituaries for Yale Graduates. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am almost obsessive in my newspaper research--and an exhaustive search for obituaries is one of the first tasks I undertake on an individual. Of course, life intervenes, and many times those searches come up blank.

So besides newspapers, where else can we turn? Books, as usual, to the rescue.

For example, there are the alumni obituary records such as the one that Barbara cited:

There are society and professional publications that note the passing of members, like this one from the New York Medical Society:

And there are publications put out by religious organizations that mention the passing of active members, like this one from the Reformed Presbyterians:

And then, of course, there are some of my favorites... those found in Pioneer and local history publications, like this one from the Firelands Historical Society, of Norwalk, Ohio:

As you well have noticed, these are all niche publications... not broad interest. While their coverage isn't comprehensive, these niche publications are great opportunities to put the minutia you have collected about your research subject to work. That symbol on their grave, the mention in the newspaper about how they served as President of a club... any of these can be pointers to an obituary in a publication which you'd otherwise probably ignore!

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