Family historians and genealogists like to find records quickly. We used to wait for weeks after ordering a document and have it arrive by snail mail weeks or months later.
Now we expect to get most of our genealogy documents such as obituaries almost instantly with a quick search and a few clicks of the mouse. And the good news is it becoming easier and easier to now find obituaries online.
Obituaries have always been important for family tree research. A good obituary can often given clues that might not be found elsewhere. These include the names and cities of the descendants and and relatives of the person that has died. The searches are often free, with subscription required to access the records in more detail.
More obituaries and newspapers are being found online today than ever before.
Newspapers have traditionally been the main source of obituaries. Paper archives were housed with the publisher or on microfilm which could be found at university, state and public libraries and historical societies in the city or town where the individual lived.
Over the years funding has become available to support the digitization of newspapers, including the obituaries. Early or historic newspapers usually featured the deaths of prominent people, and in recent years with the advent of computerized records, obituaries of most of the deceased have become available online. Typically newspapers today will publish obituaries for free on their websites for a few days, then later for a charge.
GenealogyBank, one of the most complete collections of obituaries online has over 27 million obituaries from thousands of US newspapers. The current (1977 to present) data has original data from the newspaper publisher. Millions more obituaries are found in the historical newspapers 1690-1977 using optical character recognition to search.
More newspapers and the obituaries found within are available online than ever before.