How to Use Obituaries in Genealogy Research

Obituaries provide a wealth of information that can really give your genealogy research a boost. As secondary sources, they provide a number of starting places and a way to check information you already have.

I recently discovered an obituary for a great, great aunt. In it, I learned her address, the place where she had been buried, the cause of her death and which family members were still alive and where they lived at the time of her death.

Armed with the knowledge of her burial place, I went searching for her grave, only to discover two other family members were buried in the same cemetery.

Knowing she died of tubuculosis, I could guess at why she and her mother and sister moved to Colorado, where the dry climate was frequently prescribed for tubuculosis patients.

Having a list of surviving relatives and their residences helped fill in timelines and verified other tidbits of information on parts of the family tht long ago left the state of Colorado.

The document also mentioned that she was associated with a specific church, which also might be a source of documents such as baptismal records or marriage certificates. In this case, I know she never married, but if I hadn't known this information, I'd have another line of inquiry, which could lead me to finding a spouse, or children.

You might also find referrences to you relatives' occupations, community associations and clubs, as well as hobbies and interests. These sorts of organizations culd also have records about your relative, but they also make your family members more than just a name on a page. They are the sorts of details you can't find on a birth certificate or other primary sources, but they also make your family members come alive.

Through these humble documents, I have learned about a relative's military service, including medals won and injuries suffered. I have learned about political party affiliations and acts of generosity, as well as long periods of suffering and adversity.

Obituaries provide familial relationships of surviving relatives with maiden names. All of these details for filling gaps in research and provide a great starting place for new inquiries.

Search or Post Obituaries at Colorado-Cemeteries