6 Tips for Searching Obituaries on Newspapers.com

Newspapers.com News, Finds and Tips

Newspapers.com is a valuable resource for locating your ancestors’ obituaries and death notices. Our indexed digital newspapers make the process much easier than sorting through hard copies or microfilm. Perhaps the most convenient way to find obituaries on our site is by using the “search” feature. While Newspapers.com’s “search” is straightforward and easy to use, you can make your searches even more effective by using a few of the following tricks and tips:

  1. Learn how to use Newspapers.com’s “search” feature. This tip may sound obvious, but it’s essential. Searching for obituaries will be a lot easier if you’re already familiar with how to do a general search of the papers on our site. For instance, did you know that you can narrow your results by date, state, and/or paper? If you haven’t watched our helpful “Searching Newspapers.com” video yet, do it!

  2. Add key terms to your search. Say you’re searching for the obituary of John Bair. If you search just for [“John Bair”], you’ll get many results that don’t have anything to do with a possible obituary. But if you instead search for [“John Bair” obituary], it will narrow down your results to much more likely candidates. Such key terms include “obituary”, “death”, “died”, “dead,” and “funeral.”

  3. Search using alternative names, nicknames, abbreviations, initials, and common misspellings. If a search of an ancestor’s legal name doesn’t bring up the obituary you want, try different variations of their name. Many older newspapers identified men by their first and middle initials along with their last names, while others sometimes used abbreviations (e.g., “Wm.” for William). If you’re searching in obituaries for a female ancestor, you’ll want to try also looking for her under her husband’s name (or husband’s initials)—for example, “Mrs. George E. Moring”, “Mrs. George (Grace) Moring,” or “Mrs. G. E. Moring.” And don’t forget to try a search using a woman’s maiden name.

  4. Know when to narrow your search and when to widen it. The more information you know about your ancestor, the easier it will be to narrow your results to find their obituary more quickly. For example, if you know your ancestor lived between 1870 and 1928 and spent their whole life in Kansas, you can narrow your search to those parameters of time and place to get rid of many superfluous results. However, don’t automatically discount results from a wider search just because they’re not from the city or state where your ancestor died. Obituaries may have been published in the place where they spent the majority of their life instead of the one where they died. Or obituaries may be in newspapers from the city where the deceased’s relatives lived.

  5. Save your search. If you didn’t find the obituary you want, save your search by selecting the “Save/Notify” button in the top-right corner of your search results (watch this video for more details on how to do this). By doing so, Newspapers.com will automatically notify you when any newspapers are added that fit your search criteria.

  6. Don’t be afraid to browse instead of search. Newspapers.com uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to find names and terms in the newspapers. However, while OCR can locate many instances of the words you’re searching for, it isn’t 100 percent accurate, especially for newspapers that are in poor condition. So if a search doesn’t turn up an obituary you’re looking for, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not on Newspapers.com. It just may mean that you’ll have to look for the obituary the old-fashioned way, going through likely newspapers page by page until you find what you’re looking for.

Ready to begin searching for those obituaries? Get started on our Search page.

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Tip: How to Save to Ancestry.com

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

If you have both a Newspapers.com account and an Ancestry account, you can easily save something you’ve found on Newspapers.com to your Ancestry Family Tree.

  1. Once you’ve found newspaper content you want to save to your Ancestry Family Tree, make a clipping of it, and then in the popup box that appears, select the green button with the Ancestry logo. (You can alternatively select the green “Save to Ancestry” button at the top of the viewer, which will allow you to select the portion of the page you want to clip and save to Ancestry.)
  2. After you selected the “Save to Ancestry” option, a popup box will appear that will allow you to sign in to your Ancestry account. Once you’re signed in, select the tree and then person that you want to associate the clipping with, and select “Next.”
  3. In the next box, you can add or edit information about the clipping, including the title, date, location, and comments. If you want the clipping to appear on the person’s LifeStory page on Ancestry, simply make sure the “Show on LifeStory” box is checked. If you don’t want it to appear on their LifeStory, uncheck the box. Then select “Save.”

And that’s it! The clipping will now be saved to Ancestry and will appear on your ancestor’s LifeStory. You can also access it on the person’s Facts or Gallery pages.

If you have a clipping you’ve created in the past that you want to now save to Ancestry, all you need to do is go to the clipping (accessible from the My Clippings page), and select the green “Save to Ancestry” button at the top. Then follow the same instructions as above.

Find more helpful tips at the Newspapers.com Help Center!

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Tips: Travel News and Vacation Plans

Cover photo

People love reading about themselves in the paper. Gossip about others ranks right up there, too. Historically, vacation and travel information were regular features in newspapers around the country, especially in summertime.

Davenport Democrat
Let’s check in on a few of these “personals” columns to get news of vacation plans for residents of communities around the country in decades past. In an August 1890 issue of The Ironwood Times in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we learn that Florence Bassett returned from her vacation to Minnesota, and Dr. McLeod was heading there for a chicken hunt, after meeting up with his buddies John Ross and attorney George Hayden.

An entire page of The Galveston Daily News in July 1923 was devoted to “The Week’s Society in Various Texas Towns.” In this section, we learn that Dr. and Mrs. Norris and their little son spent a month in California before returning to Madisonville, TX. In the column next to it, we read that several people in Sealy “motored” to their destinations.

If you were picnicking and swimming at Stonewall Sportsman’s Club Lake in Ada, OK, in August 1962 and wondered why the Morgans were driving a blue car, you’ll learn that they had car trouble and had to borrow one. Those were the days when everyone’s business was a community affair.

Davenport Democrat
A hundred years ago, Floridians headed out of state on their vacations. Dr. Liken and his wife left the beach for a sojourn in the mountains before spending several weeks in New York City. Rev. Bowen, while vacationing in Kansas, wrote his wife that he “had really forgotten how disagreeable Kansas weather is” as it was 110 in the shade and dust was flying.

As people traveled a lot, there were obviously others ready to receive visitors. The Kokomo Tribune in Indiana reported on house guests, as well as reunions. Sometimes these help us find family relationships like when Miss Aseneth Hanson visited her sister Mrs. Billy Jackson, in the Oakland neighborhood.

Naturally, Canadians like to vacation, too, so it’s no surprise to find news in The Winnipeg Tribune under “At the Beaches” in August 1922 with a list of 15 families enjoying their summer vacations by the water.

Search for family surnames in locations your ancestors and their cousins may have lived. Add keywords—vacation, visit, guest, travel—if you want to concentrate your search on a particular activity. Or, simply browse the society or community columns for your family’s local paper on Newspapers.com to see what summer adventures they had.

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