Births, marriages and deaths are announced in newspapers. Many back issues of newspapers have been microfilmed and are held in libraries, archives or museums. Check with the library or the newspaper, if it still exists, to see if and where microfilmed copies are held. Once you have located the newspaper for the area the event took place, search to see if your ancestor's event was announced in the newspaper. Look through the entire newspaper since in some older papers, births, deaths or marriage entries were inserted wherever there was space, not necessarily together in columns as you would find them today. Local news columns in small town papers are another source of information about families. Sometimes if you are lucky, you'll even find a story written up about your family member.

Newspaper Indexes, are information extracted from back issues of newspapers and reprinted in th form of an index. The information included is not as detailed as in the actual story or obituary, but will give you a quick way to find if the name you are looking for appeared in the newspaper. The information in the index may be presented chronological or alphabetical for a given period of years. The index may contain a list of births, marriages or deaths. In the case of deaths it will usually contain the name of the person, date of death or funeral, place of burial and possibly the date of the newspaper it was found in. This provides you with much of the information you need to continue your search elsewhere. Once you have found the information in an index, you can if you wish go back to the original newspaper, armed with a more precise date and see what was actually said. It may also provide you with more information so you can order a birth, marriage or death certificate.


Another source of information are cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions. Once you know what town your ancestor lived in, check to see how many cemeteries exist in that area. Usually there is more than one cemetery. Each church denomination may have their own cemetery. One place you might check is the local funeral home. They would know how many cemeteries there are and where they are located.

Once you have located the correct cemetery, you can begin your search for your ancestor's gravestone. On it you should find at least the person's name and year of death. If you are fortunate, you may find their full date of birth and death, as well as their spouse's maiden name, names of children and whole families. As you can see tombstone inscriptions can be a real gold mine of information. You may have difficulty finding the exact location of your ancestor in the cemetery, especially if it is a large one. Check with the funeral home or with the cemetery office if there is one, to get the location of their plot. Also you can find out who the caretaker or records keeper is for the cemetery. They might be able to give you more details on the family you are looking for.

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