How do I find deceased relatives for free?

cemetery 2 image by Anton Chernenko from

Finding deceased relatives was a formidable task prior to the onset of online record repositories. Today, a quick search through the online archives will produce information on deceased relatives. Everything from obituaries to military records is available to the researcher for free.


Before digitising records was commonplace, most old records were recorded on microfilm. The microfilms were kept in places like state archives, the National Archives, family history centres and local libraries.


Records that will disclose deceased relatives include census records, military records, tax lists, voter lists, cemetery records, Social Security information and vital records.


Most records that contain personally identifying information have restrictions on them. Privacy laws restrict the release of information less than 50 years old to anyone other than the person on the record, their parent or their legal representative.

Online Sources

Online repositories for free information about deceased relatives include the National Archives and Family Search. Other commercial entities require registration before records can be accessed.

Local Resources

The local library will have microfilms of local newspapers; check the obituaries. Town history books are another library source. These books contain information about everyone living in the town at the time the book was written.