But when did Grandpa die?

You’d love to find obituaries for your family but you don’t have a complete death date to do the search.  Short of sitting down for hours and scrolling through endless rolls of microfilm – there are many resources to help you find your ancestor’s death date. Below are the three most common resources I use to find  death dates. 

  • State Vital Records index
  • Newspaper Indexes
  • Social Security Death Index 

These three indexes all have their advantages and disadvantages (more about that in future posts), but are a good start if you don’t have a complete death date.   You might have to dig a bit deeper if you still can’t find the date.  Where else might the death date be recorded?  Below are some other examples of where death dates might be found.

  • Funeral home records
  • Cemetery records
  • Stone cutters
  • County Court House
  • Family records – bible, funeral programs, etc
  • Church records

All of these types of institutions have reason to keep records of the death.  The minister keeps a log of the services he conducts and monies received.  The court house may have record of the probate or a will.  Funeral homes, cemeteries and the stone cutters all keep their own sets of records for the services they provide.  Now which one or combination of these source might apply to your ancestor?  A little foot work may be required – but the end result will be worth it!


About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
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