How Obituaries Can Transform Your Family Tree Research

How Obituaries Can Transform Your Family Tree Research April 10, 2018

There’s nothing more fascinating than researching your family tree, as it gives you a glimpse into another time, as well as into the people and events that shaped who you are. There are many resources that should be an essential port of call for an amateur genealogist, foremost among them census returns and records of births, marriages, and deaths. But that shouldn’t be where your search ends. A vast array of information can be found in obituaries, so no thorough family tree research should omit them, where they’re available.

A Wealth Of Information

Records of death can themselves contain information which is invaluable when adding to your family tree, but they pale into insignificance when compared to the plethora of information that is contained within a typical obituary. They will always contain the name and age of the deceased, of course, along with their location at the time of death. Other information that is frequently contained in an obituary includes the name of their spouse and children, if applicable, and often the place and date of their birth as well. The information on offspring can be particularly useful, as this often includes their age as well, which makes it much easier to find them when searching for their records on a genealogy website.

Creating A Real Person, Not A Record

Finding new information or people to add to your family tree is always an exciting moment, but all too often, a tree becomes nothing more than a long list of births, deaths, and marriage dates. These are your ancestors, after all, so wouldn’t it be nice to know a little more about them? Obituaries can prove invaluable in this respect, as they often contain lots of highly interesting background details, such as where they worked, what their hobbies were, what organizations they were connected with, and any particularly notable moments from their life. This information is endlessly fascinating when it relates to a forebear, and it allows you to appreciate them as a real flesh and blood person, rather than just a sequence of numbers.

How To Find Obituary Records

The internet has transformed the way we can find obituary records, making an ancestor obituary search much easier than ever before. There’s now no need to order back copies of newspapers or visit libraries to look at dusty archives, as vast quantities of old newspapers can now be accessed online via your favorite genealogy bank. Start by searching for a first name and surname, and then refine the search by looking at a range of years or a part of the country where you believe your ancestor passed away. If you know their former occupation, you can also enter that into the search as a keyword, in case it was mentioned in the obituary.

Obituaries can often be moving to read when they relate to an ancestor, even if we never knew them, but they can also be one of the best tools you have when it comes to unlocking further branches of your family tree. They also allow you to get a fuller picture of who your ancestors were and what their everyday lives were like, allowing you to build a more vibrant and exciting family history.

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