Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Frugal Genealogy: Obituaries


Libraries will often make copies of obits and mail or e-mail them to you for a very low cost (or free!). An example of this occurred several years ago while I was trying to track down an obituary for Frederika (STEEN) WILKINSON the sister-in-law of my great-great-grandmother, who died here in Washington State. I used http://www.publiclibraries.com to find the local public library for Island County where she resided for many years. Late that night, I sent an e-mail to the contact listed on the library's website to ask how I could request an obituary for Frederika, giving her date of death obtained from the Washington State Death Index on Ancestry.

The very next morning, I had an e-mail from the library stating the obituary had been found and requesting my mailing address! And like many obituaries, it was full of great genealogical information that helped further my research.

Etiquette Tip: Just because a library does a lookup for free, don't take the freebie and run. Like the rest of us, libraries are on tight budgets. When making your request, offer to pay any lookup, copy and postage fees; and if you get the request filled for free, make a donation anyway...even if you can only afford a few dollars. Every dollar counts, and you pave the way for future requests for yourself and others.

This post is part of a ten-part series on Frugal Genealogy, based on my most-requested presentation, "Frugal Genealogy, or How Not to Spend a Fortune on Your Family Tree." Each post in this series will focus on one of ten topics I discuss in my presentation, and I freely share one tip from each topic. If you would like me to speak to your group anywhere in the Pacific Northwest on this or any other subject, please contact me.


FamilyTwigs (Sheri Bush) said...

Love this series of genealogy tips! Going to link to them for my county users.
Thank you!

Tracy said...

I have had the good fortune on two occasions to request an obituary as you've described and the library just asked for my mailing address. They didn't even want a self-addressed stamped envelope or money for copies. A thank you was promptly sent!

Miriam said...

Thanks, Sheri!

Tracy, isn't it amazing how helpful library staff can be?

Thanks to both of you for dropping by and for your kind words.

Joan said...

Thanks for the tips. Librarians can also be so very helpful about things you hadn't even been considering. A good thing to remember -- take good care of those librarians.

Miriam said...

I agree, Joan!

sajosovic said...

The Washington State Library has a free obituary look up service for obituaries in Washington State newspapers.

Miriam said...

Yes, our state library is just the best! :-)

Thanks for dropping by!