ProQuest Obituaries: Follow Friday

Today’s Follow Friday is about ProQuest Obituaries, a commercial database that has revolutionized my research for the parts of my family tree from the early- and mid-20th century.

ProQuest Obituaries provides more than 10 million obituaries and death notices in full-image format from the following newspapers:

•    Atlanta Constitution 
•    Boston Globe
•    Chicago Defender
•    Chicago Tribune
•    Los Angeles Times
•    New York Times 
•    Washington Post 

Other newspaper databases that cover whole issues, which often deliver mixed search results. ProQuest Obituaries delivers only obituaries and death notices in full-page format. The search interface is flexible and the results are stellar.

If you have ancestors in any of the cities listed above, ProQuest Obituaries can make a remarkable difference in your research. I’ve found or confirmed 228 people, mostly with hits from the Chicago Tribune. Most of my hits have been paid death notices, but there are a few obituaries and most of those have had photographs as well.

Where can you get access to this database? The ProQuest business model is to market to libraries rather than individuals. (And I think this is kinda crazy: I’d pay to access this database from home.) So check your local public library or genealogical society library to see if they have a license to ProQuest Obituaries database and give it a try.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. Your Growing Tree 15 October 2010 at 10:34 AM - Reply

    I used this at the NY Public Library recently, and it was great to use. I agree that they should expand their customer base…it could be used by soooooo many reseachers.

    I have also found that if you know the area where your realtives died, check the local library, because the library might actually have archives of obituaries. I recently contacted the Butler Public Library in PA, and they were able to give me the obituaries I needed, plus a copy of someone’s last will and testament from 1885 (plus copies of the checks written out from their estate).

    Keep Smilin

  2. Sassy Jane Genealogy 15 October 2010 at 10:34 AM - Reply

    Isn’t it great? I get soooo much better search results than I do when searching whole issues of newspapers. I wish I had weekly access – I have to go to Burbank to use this at the SoCal Genealogical Library. I usually have a list longer than my arm when I get there.

  3. Jen 15 October 2010 at 5:30 AM - Reply

    I LOVE ProQuest. The Chicago Trib has lots of stuff for my Chicago ancestors and I check it weekly as I research.

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