How to Find Obituaries Online

Obituary search tools and tips

An online obituary search can help you find an obituary for a specific person, like a family member, friend, neighbor, etc. An obituary lookup is also one of the easiest ways to find out if someone has passed away.

Finding an obituary usually lets you see when and where the person died, their relatives, their occupation, and sometimes other details like the cause of death and service location.

Your ability to find an obituary depends on a number of factors, such as if one was written and, if so, whether it was published online (some remain offline in newspapers). The size of the city where the person is from is a big factor regarding whether an obituary is available.

Use a Web Search Engine

Search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, Bing, Yahoo, etc., are wonderful at finding nearly anything, obituaries included. If you know the person's name, enter it like this:

"John Doe" obituary

If it's a common name, add any other information to the search that you can to narrow down the results. Here's an example, assuming that John is from Denver and that his wife Jane is included in the obituary:

"John Doe" "Jane" obituary "denver"

Most search engines have advanced search options that can help even more.

Try an Obituary Finder

While a web search engine can definitely help you find an obituary, you could skip the clutter produced by a search engine and go directly to a dedicated obituary finder. These tools gather information from newspapers and other sources to make obituary searches way easier.

Legacy.com is one example of an obituary finder that lets you search recent obituaries or ones from the distant past. Use the local obituary search tool to browse by state, or the general search tool to find obituaries by name/date/country. Notable deaths are included on Legacy.com as well.

Legacy.com obituary search

Another way to lookup an obituary for free is with Tributes.com. With several million obituaries and death notices, you're bound to have luck with this one. Enter a first and/or last name to comb through the results.

If the obituary search tool you're using requires you to know the person's birth or death date, search for him or her with the Social Security Death Index at Genealogy Bank. A people search engine can also be useful for finding someone's birth date.

Visit the Local Mortuary's Site

Knowing where the person will be handled before the funeral can help a lot because the local mortuary might keep a record of him or her. This might be a full obituary submitted by family or friends or a link to a full obituary in an online newspaper.

Ebersole Mortuary website

A simple search on Google or another search engine is usually enough to find a funeral home in any given city, but there are also mortuary finders, such as this one on Legacy.com.

If you want to try a web search, structure it like this:

"funeral home" OR "mortuary" "sand springs"

Search Newspaper Archives

This shouldn't be your first choice when searching for obituaries, but online newspapers are another option. They're most likely only helpful for really recent obituaries (last 30 days or so), but some sites do keep old obituaries in their paper archives.

Here are a few newspaper finders to get you started:

Google News obituary archive from 2008

Of course, if you suspect a specific newspaper would have the obituary, search for that one to visit its website and find the obituary section.

Libraries can also be helpful for finding digital newspapers with obituaries. If you know where the person died or lived, search for libraries in that area with WorldCat.

Browse Local Church Websites

If the funeral was or will be held at a church local to where the person lived or died, you might have luck finding the obituary on the church's website.

If you don't know the name of the church, use the same web search engine technique described above to find it, and then look through the site for recent obituaries.

It might help to throw in just the location along with the words "church" and/or "funeral," like this:

"lake city" colorado church OR funeral

This obituary finding method isn't as solid as the others on this page, but if you've made it this far without any luck, it doesn't hurt to try.