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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Finding obituaries in ProQuest newspapers

Finding biographical information about people and celebrities is one of the many uses of the ProQuest newspaper database that is provided by CMRLS to members. One important source of biographical information can be found in newspaper obituaries.

Obituaries may contain information about a person’s birthplace, family names, work history, where they lived, leadership positions, affiliations and hobbies. Genealogists may be able to use obituaries to determine family member names and relationships.

There are several ways to find obituary information using ProQuest newspapers databases. Below are listed various strategies you can use.

Published newspaper obituary

Most obituaries contain information about average citizens and are written by the deceased person’s family or a local newspaper based on information supplied by the family. ProQuest uses the Document Type = Obituaries field to narrow a search to just published obituaries.

1) Click on the More Search Options tab in the middle of the page.
2) Expand the Document Type field and choose Obituary
3) Go up to the Basic Search box and type the deceased person’s name. You may want to try typing the name using given name, initials and nickname. Trying various forms of the person’s name within separate searches will help to insure success at finding the obituary.

An alternative method for finding newspaper obituaries is to use the following search strategy in the Basic Search box:

John Smith AND (obituary or obituaries)

Famous people and Celebrities

Many newspapers do not publish standard obituaries for the death of famous people or celebrities. Instead, they may do a feature story on the famous person’s life. These newspaper articles are not designated as obituaries and you will need a different search strategy. Try using the following strategies for finding information about the death of famous people and celebrities:

June Allyson AND (dead OR death OR died OR dies)
June Allyson AND (obituary OR obituaries)

Additional strategies to narrow your search include narrowing to a local newspaper or using the date feature to narrow the approximate month or year of the death.

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