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How to Find a Past Obituary

Updated March 23, 2017

Finding a past obituary is easy thanks to Internet databases and your local newspaper archives. Databases such as Ancestor Hunt or Legacy.com 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.

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  1. Log into an obituary database search engine. Comprehensive obituary databases include Ancestor Hunt.com (http://www.ancestorhunt.com/) and Legacy.com (http://www.legacy.com/NS/). Both databases have access to obituaries published in thousands of newspapers across the country, within the past few decades.

  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.

  3. Using the Obit Finder at Legacy.com (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries.asp?Page=ObitFinder), 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.

  4. Click on the name from the list of results to obtain the obit. Each search engine produces different types of results. Legacy.com 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Tip

    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 (http://www.funeralnet.com/) or Current Obituary (http://www.currentobituary.com/ShowStates.aspx) offer free obituary retrieval services, but have a limited database.

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About the Author

Gina Ragusa has made a career out of writing for the past 15 years, with an emphasis on financial institution writing. Ragusa has written for Consumer Lending News, Deposit and Loan Growth Strategies and Community Bank President. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.

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