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Finding Law School and U-M Yearbooks and Directories: Obituaries

How to Find Date & Place of Death

Obituaries will often contain some biographical information and may contain clues that will help you pursue other avenues of research.   Obituaries are most reliably found in newspapers, but may also appear in other publications.   The first step to finding an obituary is to establish the date and death.  It is also helpful to know where the individual died or where he or she lived. 

  • First try the Alumni Files Index (fka the Necrology File), available at the Bentley Historical Library.
  • See if you can find your subject in the Social Security Death Index
  • There are some searchable death indexes and records available online; use this guide to find them.

How to Find Obituaries in Newspapers

Newspaper obituaries are published in the locality in which the subject lived or had strong connections.  An obituary may appear in more than one newspaper, for example in the newspaper of the area to which a person retired as well as the locality in which he or she resided.   Here is some advice on locating obituaries:

  • Many newspapers now archive their current issues on the web. Usually, these are searchable. To find them, use the Internet Public Library's list of links to U.S. NewspapersOnline Newspapers from Around the World.
  • Obituary Daily Times is a handy way to find more recent obituaries if you know the name, but not the residence.
  • Some libraries offer the electronic resource "America's Obituaries and Death Notices" -- a Newsbank database of 20th century obituaries.
  • includes mid to late 20th century to current obituaries. You can pay for individual obituaries or subscribe.
  • Some local libraries have maintained subject, personal name or obituary indexes to local papers for years. Others are now creating such indexes. To find these, you must often check the webpage of the library in the area of interest. Use LibWeb to find the website of the public library in a city that interests you.

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