Obits for Historical Research

Oct 27, 2009 | 0 comments

Both the paid and the news obituary play a role beyond letting people know the time and place of the funeral or memorial service. The obit can be a valuable record for future generations to trace family history and genealogy, listing details such as mother’s maiden names, names of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Historians, genealogists, and social scientists also rely on obituaries to collect information.

Often, news obit stories avoid including many descendant’s names, as the newspaper is providing the space for free. Of course, when listing names in a classified obituary, the more you say, the more you pay. But it may be worth the extra words for the family record of lineage.

“In a paid obituary, it does generate more words, and that turns into dollars. We are getting accustomed to reading obituaries that do not name the next generation,” explained Carolyn Gilbert, founder of the International Association of Obituarists. “If the next generation is not named, then when a family or a funeral home is following the pattern they see, they will typically not name them.”

Think ahead and include those names. Your descendants will thank you.

A Good Goodbye