Free Ancestry Reports – Using Obituaries for Free Ancestry Reports

When compiling free ancestry reports, data must be checked and verified against a number of official documents before being added to your family history. Unofficial sources such as obituaries can also be useful in confirming information you may already possess, or have yet to discover. Find out in this article how understanding obituaries and reading between the lines of the information they contain can help you to compile exemplary free ancestry reports.

Deciphering Obituaries for Free Ancestry Reports

These announcements of people's deaths that appear in newspapers around the world can be quite useful in what they contribute to free ancestry reports. Obituaries are even published online these days, and often contain a wealth of valuable genealogical information. But these genealogical gems can yield even more information that what is actually printed; if you know how to read between the lines, and decipher what lays deeper within them.

There's no doubt that obituaries are considered secondary sources of genealogical data, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored when composing free ancestry reports. Although valuable, any information initially gleaned from obituaries should be confirmed with primary sources before being entered into free ancestry reports. This is simply because they are composed by humans, and could contain some sort of human error. Normally they are prepared by family members, and therefore quite accurate, but sometimes a friend or distant relative who wasn't completely knowledgeable about the deceased and those he or she left behind. The stress of the occasion could also lead to mistakes being made – information left out, or names misspelt, so always double check before using anything you find in obituaries in your free ancestry reports.

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Information from Obituaries You Can Use in Free Ancestry Reports

In spite of the need to check them against other records, obituaries can prove extremely abundant in yielding information for free ancestry reports. Information such as:

  • Name and Age of Deceased
  • Place of residence
  • Date and location of death
  • Names of parents and siblings
  • School attended
  • Religious affiliation
  • Military service record
  • Organization or Lodge memberships
  • Date, time and place of funeral

Can all be listed in an obituary, and sometimes even more. Obituaries are especially helpful in pointing us towards primary record sources that can help with our free ancestry reports. They are regularly used by family historians to corroborate other data they may have, and to verify names, dates and locations. Often the names of other family members included in an obituary can help you over the "dead-ends" we sometimes encounter when composing free ancestry reports.

A fellow family historian that I know was able to track her great-great grandparent using an old obituary. He had been trying to trace the parents of one of his grandmothers for the longest time, and when he visited the town where she had lived, the local library yielded her obituary in the local newspaper from the year she had died. The obituary listed three brothers and a sister who had survived her, and who my friend had not known about.

He located records for one of the brothers and the sister who had outlived his grandmother, and those of the sister led him to the parents – his great-great grandparents.

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Not everyone experiences such success with obituaries when using them to complete free ancestry reports, but the preceding example hopefully shows that they can be very useful when combined with other genealogical records. There are many leads within obituaries that can lead you to further data for your free ancestry reports; you just need to know how to read between the lines.

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