Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What Can Obituary Records Tell a Genealogy Researcher?

Delene Allen, Director
Quitman Public Library
March 14, 2017

  Obituaries have the unique power to both tell a story and enable individuals to learn more about their family relationships. A well-written obituary contains a wealth of information including facts and details that help capture the legacy of people who have passed on. Facts that memorialize the lives of ancestors will usually have the following facts:
  • ·         Legal name(s) and nick-names
  • ·         Age, birthdate, birthplace and current residence
  • ·         Death location and death date
  • ·         Education, profession, career
  • ·         Military service and distinctions
  • ·         Names of parents, siblings, spouse, children
  • ·         Personal anecdotes

  The average obituary contains the names of about ten family members of the deceased—parents, spouse, children, and other relatives such as aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and inlaws.
  Some obituaries include much more if you read with a keen eye. For example, the cause of death may not be listed, but memorial donations may be requested for such organizations as the American Heart Association or Susan G. Comen Society which may provide a reasonable indication.
  Another not so obvious clues may hint at hobbies or interests of the deceased when there is a request for memorial donations to a particular library, museum, school, or cause such as the ASPCA. Also, a church affiliation may be presumed by noting where the service is held and who is listed as the officiating minister.
  There are national and international online obituaries that can be found at sites like GenealogyBank, FamilySearch and Newspaper Archive.
  The Wood County TX Genealogical Society has alphabetical volumes of obituaries that have been clipped, pasted and cataloged by volunteers (prior to the digital age), and these volumes are housed at the Quitman Public Library – Quitman TX.  Also, there are reels of microfilm of the Wood County Democrat that contain obituary records from 1914 – 2008 that may be viewed at the Quitman Public Library.

  Stop in soon and join members of the Wood County TX Genealogical Society. Get into family history research!


  1. I've read obits where pet's names are even listed. Very good information here.