Research in Genealogy - Obituaries Vital Information

Finding Obituaries & Vital Information

Finding obituaries for famous people is easy. Finding them for family members who were less well-known can be a challenge. Before your coming in to the library, find out as much as you can about where the person lived and where and when s/he died. Having these facts in hand will point you to the appropriate reference sources or newspapers. This guide was created with an Oregon focus, although those searching for obituaries outside of Oregon may still find it helpful.

Find out about other genealogical resources from the Research in Genealogy guide.

Off-campus access to some of the electronic resources listed on this page is limited to current UO students, faculty, and staff and is indicated by a UO button off-campus access limited to UO.

Finding Birth & Death Dates

To find birth or death dates, the following sources may be useful

Nationwide

Oregon

  • Oregon Death Index State information provided by Heritage Trail Press. Currently 1903-1930 online. UO Libraries also own 1903-1970 on microfilm, 1971-present on microfiche. A death index for Portland goes back to 1854. Ask at the Microforms Desk for these materials.
  • Oregon Historical Records Index from the Oregon State Archives, a growing online index to records held in the state archives. Information available varies from county to county.
  • UO Library Catalog Search by Subject for: Registers of births, etc. Oregon. Lists usually copied from newspapers.
  • See Grave & Cemetery information below.

Finding Marriage & Divorce information

  • Oregon Historical Records Index from the Oregon State Archives, a growing online index to records held in the state archives. Information available varies from county to county.
  • For marriages see also:
    • Index of Oregon Marriages (1906-1910) and Marriage Index [for Oregon] 1961 to the present, a publication of the State of Oregon. Ask at the Microforms Desk on the 1st floor of Knight Library.
    • UO Library Catalog Search by Subject for: Registers of births,etc. Oregon (Yes, sometimes includes marriage indexes!)
      Marriage records Oregon
  • For divorces see also:
    • Divorce Index by Husband for Oregon 1961 to the present, a publication of the State of Oregon. Ask at the Microforms Desk on the 1st floor of Knight Library.
    • UO Library Catalog Search by Subject for: Registers of births,etc. Oregon (Yes, sometimes includes divorce indexes!)
      Divorce records Oregon

Finding Cemeteries

  • Geographic Names & Information System (GNIS) from the USGS. Search for feature type 'cemetery'. Once you pull up the record for a specific cemetery, you can follow the links to view a map.
  • Oregon Cemetery Survey searchable version of the 1976 Oregon Dept of Transportation survey from Heritage Trail. The UO Libraries own several print copies that contain maps and other details not available in the database.
  • See also cemetery information on Roots-L list of Oregon Resources

Finding Individual Graves

Locating Newspapers on Microfilm

The most likely place to find an obituary is in a newspaper. The UO Libraries own a nearly complete collection of Oregon newspapers. So, if the person you are seeking lived in Oregon, the UO Library collections are a great place to start. We own the full run of The New York Times and The Times of London on microfilm with less coverage of other newspapers.

Indexes do not exist for most Oregon newspapers. In many cases, you will need to find the paper from the city or county where the person died and browse the microfilm of the issues from around their date of death.

Microfilm copies of many Oregon newspapers are available in the Knight Library Microforms Department. Most are listed in the UO Libraries Catalog by title, by city of publication, and by county. Remember, newspapers often change titles over the years. For titles not found in the library catalog, check the inventories of newspapers on microform (by city or by county), or ask for assistance at the Microforms desk on the first floor of Knight Library. Newspapers on microfilm are shelved by city and then by the title of the publication.

If you know the location or newspaper name and dates, you can:

For more information see our Finding Newspapers guide.

Locating newspaper indexes & obits

Web Resources

 

 

Created by johnruss on Jun 18, 2012 Last updated Jun 17, 2014