There could be a number of reasons why you would want to get your hands on obituary. It could be to prove the death of someone for legal reasons. You might also want to find the obituary as you dig into the history of your family. While it may be easy to track down the newspaper or online clip for a recent death, it becomes harder as you go back in time. Thankfully, it is not impossible.
Visit the Public Library
New Yorkers are lucky. They have some of the best public libraries in the country, filled with more than just printed paperbacks. Depending on which library you frequent, there are different options for your hunt. Some libraries will have a database dedicated to finding obituaries or searching by a person’s full name. Other libraries who may not have made it that far in the process of electronically categorizing everything will likely still have old newspapers on file. If you know the date of death, or even an approximate date, you can narrow your search down drastically.
One of the best parts about utilizing New York’s amazing public libraries is that this service will be entirely free of charge.
Scour the World Wide Web
If you didn’t succeed with the library, you still have the world’s largest database of information at your fingertips. The internet can provide nearly countless resources for you to utilize. There are many websites that are dedicated to family history and often include obituaries. Our list of New York historical information resources contains some websites that focus on genealogical data.
This route has advantages and disadvantages that you won’t find in the library. For example, it will likely cost a monthly fee for you to access the information. It could also lead to a dead end, without your small fee being reimbursed. However, it has the added benefit of convenience. You can conduct your search at any hour from any location in New York and beyond.
In desperate situations, you can reach out to individuals who are skilled and trained in doing all the brunt work for you. They are essentially private detectives that operate in the realm of history as opposed to researching the present. Many of them work through agencies that you can find online and hire to conduct the search for you. They will take the headache out of your hunt, but they will expect a larger payment than the online DIY resources. This can be utilized as a last resort.
No matter which route you take, the more information you have on hand about the person whose obituary you are trying to find, the more likely you are to be successful in your search. For example, having both their maiden and married name, date of birth, date of death, and locations of both will significantly narrow the search perimeters. With all the people who live and have lived in New York, and can seem like a daunting task, but in a city that never sleeps, you will be surprised at what rises to the surface.