Source Information U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930-Current [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.
Original data: See newspaper information provided with each entry.

About U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930-Current

General collection information

This collection is an index of information taken from online obituaries published in the United States between 1930 and the current year. Many of the obituaries were found on funeral home websites, and the index may include links to the original sources. The obituaries contain information about the deceased person and their family and often have a photograph of the deceased person.

Using this collection

Records in this collection may include the following information:

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Residence
  • Birth date and place
  • Death date and place
  • Burial date and place
  • Obituary date and place of publication
  • Relatives’ names
  • Obituaries can provide information other historical sources can’t offer, including employment and education histories, volunteer activities, and military service information. Family names and relationships can be added to a family tree. Military service information can lead to enlistment and pension records. Birth and marriage dates can open a path to newspaper announcements and official birth and marriage certificates. A church funeral location may lead to additional church records.

    Keep in mind the date of publication is different from the date of death or date of burial, but it can provide clues about vital dates. Usually, obituaries are published shortly after the death occurs, but provides some notice for those who may wish to attend the funeral.

    Depending on the wishes of the family, obituaries may have been printed in multiple newspapers. This is especially true in cases where the deceased may have spent significant portions of their life in different cities. An obituary may be published by a newspaper from the deceased’s hometown, in addition to newspapers near their residence.

    To search thoroughly for obituaries from past newspaper editions, the best approach is to use a variety of tools including Ancestry's Obituary Collection, Ancestry's Historical Newspapers collection, and offline research through local libraries and newspaper offices.

    Collection in context

    The index is a secondary source that derives its information from primary sources. The original obituaries are high-quality primary historical sources. They were written by funeral home directors or members of the deceased’s family.

    Funeral homes and newspapers began to develop a basic template for obituaries during the 1930s. A four-part structure was commonly used, starting with a death announcement, followed by a short biography and list of survivors, and ending with funeral information.

    For many decades, newspapers were the most common place to find obituaries. However, in the 1990s, newspapers began to charge fees to publish obituaries, and as the digital age unfolded, people began to turn to funeral home websites to announce the death of a family member. Digital obituaries allow the deceased’s family to go beyond the traditional four-part structure to tell more life stories and post numerous photographs, which provides a broader historical document for family history researchers.


    Beyond the Dash. “The History of the Obituaries.” Accessed April 13, 2023.

    Frazer Consultants. “The History of the Obituary.” Accessed April 13, 2023.

    Sheppard, Judith. “The Death of the Free Obit.” American Journalism Review. Accessed April 13, 2023.

    Recent Updates:
    16 Oct 2023: Added 1,517,469 new records from hundreds of newspapers.
    18 Dec 2023: Added 1,909,162 new records from hundreds of newspapers.
    9 Apr 2024: Added 1,031,390 new records from hundreds of newspapers.