How to Find a Past Obituary

Written by gina ragusa
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How to Find a Past Obituary
Use Internet databases to search for an old obituary. (sacred image by darkages from

Finding a past obituary is easy thanks to Internet databases and your local newspaper archives. Databases such as Ancestor Hunt or offer search engines that can track obits as far back as the late 1800s. Have the correct spelling of the deceased's name in hand, along with any additional information such as date of birth and death, city and state. The more information you can furnish, the easier it will be to find the obituary.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Log into an obituary database search engine. Comprehensive obituary databases include Ancestor ( and ( Both databases have access to obituaries published in thousands of newspapers across the country, within the past few decades.

  2. 2

    Input the deceased's full name into the database. No matter which search engine you use, you must have the first and last name of the deceased in order to obtain an obituary. If you use the Ancestor Hunt portal, first search for the appropriate state and city newspaper to begin your search.

    Using the Obit Finder at (, input the first and last name along with state and year if possible. Legacy will also check Canadian newspapers too. Both sites scan the myriad of obituary sections seated inside thousands of newspapers.

  3. 3

    Click on the name from the list of results to obtain the obit. Each search engine produces different types of results. will locate the name, date of obit issuance and name of newspaper. Most obits at the Legacy website require you to pay an archived fee of £1.90 to obtain the obit, however if the family of the deceased created a Legacy guestbook you can obtain the obit free of charge.

    Searches on Ancestor Hunt scan local newspaper databases through both newspaper and public library sources. Some sources require a small fee to obtain the obit, however other sources, such as those obtained through the public library do not.

Tips and warnings

  • Having the obituary date will help you locate the name faster, especially if the obituary is more than five years old.
  • Other online databases such as FuneralNet ( or Current Obituary ( offer free obituary retrieval services, but have a limited database.

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