I hate to be morbid, but obituaries are a great resource for building family trees. Among other things, obituaries often identify spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren, and maiden names.
Where to Find Obituaries …
To locate obituaries, here are some great online resources:
- Ancestry.com–Available by subscription
- NewspaperARCHIVE.com–Available by subscription
- Newspapers.com–Available by subscription
- TimesMachine – The New York Times–Available by subscription
Obituaries Provide a Wealth of Information
For instance, the obituary of my great grandmother, Fannie Kravitz Scherr, states the following:
SCHERR.—Oct. 2, FANNIE, of 1133 E. Upsal st., beloved wife of Jack, dear mother of Mrs. Harriet Suwolsky, Sam Kravitz and Ronald Scherr, daughter of the late Elka Stillman, sister of David Stillman, Isadore Stillman, Benny Stillman, Sam Stillman, Herman Stillman, Mrs. Celia Kushner, Mrs. Sophie Zubrow and Mrs. Mollie Melrod. Also survived by 6 grandchildren. Relatives, friends and Stillman family are invited to services Mon., 11 A. M., from Reisman Funeral Chapel, 809-10 Pine st. Int. Har Nebo Cem. Shiva observed at 1133 E. Upsal st. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Cancer Research.
Despite that Fannie’s obituary is short, it provides a wealth of information regarding her death and her family. More specifically, it provides, among other things, her date of death, her residence at the time of the death, the name of her spouse, the names of her children, the name of her late mother, the names of her siblings who survived her, the number of grandchildren at the time of her death, the name of the funeral home, and the name of the cemetery. Also, the obituary provides her sisters’ married names. Having that information makes it easier to locate Fannie’s sisters and their husbands in other records, such as marriage records or census documents.
Because obituaries help identify a decedent’s living and dead relatives, they are a great tool for not only genealogists or hobbyists who are researching someone’s ancestry but also for forensic genealogists who are searching for living relatives. Given that obituaries provide an incredible amount of useful information, be sure to make use of them in your research.
Fannie Scherr obituary, The Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Inquirer, 4 October 1959, page 77, column 7; image copy, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed 9 January 2020).