One of the first things genealogists or anyone searching for their ancestry should do is find clues in obituaries. Obituaries are hidden gems of information about people. They are the final report on the life of an individual and contain details about that person's life that may not appear anywhere else. Each obituary is different, but the basic research plan outlined below can work for all of them.
An obituary is a notice that announces the death of someone with a description of the person's life and list of family members. An obituary is a valuable tool for genealogists and family tree researchers because it contains clues about the deceased and the deceased's family. The obituary is often written by the funeral home or mortuary, but many people choose to write an obituary for their loved one that is published in the newspaper and included in the funeral program.
A research plan for obituaries starts with an obituary. It is a little easier to start a research plan when you are related to the person in the obituary, but if you were researching someone who is not your relation, the steps would be the same.
The first step is to find the obituary. Here is a sample obituary that we can use to formulate a research plan.
During the past 6 weeks the farmer Jack Porter has been confined to his home, 1 mile east of Pocatello by illness. This morning at 10:30 he died, leaving a widow and one son and two step children. The deceased was a brother to Darrel Porter. He was 57 years of age. The funeral will be held on Tuesday at First Congregational Church of Christ in Pocatello.
Find out who all of these people are and how they are related to your family. If you don't know the connection, it's just a matter of finding the details of their lives. If you know the connections, then you will still have to search the same avenues to find the information you need about these people. So how to you go about interpreting this obituary?
Many steps can be done online but for the really deep details, you might have to visit archives and libraries in person. Many townships have a genealogist society that will look up this information for you for a small fee that covers any costs that the genealogist will incur on your behalf. If you are lucky, some will do it for free on a voluntary basis while others are employed by the town or library to respond to inquiries like this. Find tools for interpreting an obituary at O bituariesHelp.org
These are general rules when looking for details to the clues given in obituaries.
As you dig deeper, you will find more people who share the name or who are connected to the deceased. Keep a list of all the names to research and rule all the ones that don't apply to your search. The list of people to research will grow if you keep looking. From the obituary of one deceased ancestor, you may find the links to your family history. Just remember to have fun and keep your records organized!