How to Find Alaska Obituaries
An obituary is a short notice or article reporting the death of a person that generally appears in the city newspaper where the deceased died or resided. Important aspects of the life or death may be included, as well as a list of surviving family members.
Before beginning your search for a death record, gather the important information about the individual, their death, and the newspaper publication (if applicable). The most useful details to acquire are the last name, first name, place of residence, date of death, and place of death.
Alaska is a large state, with a few bustling cities and vast, desolate outlands. Extreme cold, snow, and roads covered with glimmering ice can make searching for information a treacherous adventure. Because most of the state is not accessible for several months of the year, using online searches to find important information is a much better solution than a physical trip.
If you are searching for an Alaskan Inuit record, you might already be aware that the documentation of a death might not be easily available or might not exist. Most of these records were kept in oral family history and may never have been written down or officially recorded.
Historical death records in Alaska can also be hard to find because the border between Canada and the United States was poorly patrolled in the distant past, and the state was sparsely populated. If the death may have occurred near a border you may consider also searching through records in the Yukon and British Columbia provinces of Canada.
The path to finding older obituaries typically includes a series of steps. Since most obituaries originally appeared in newspapers, your can start with newspaper resources to identify the correct publication. First, you want to find the name of the newspaper that carried the obituary you seek. After you have the name of the publication, and the possible date of the notice, you can then search for a copy of that newspaper.
There are several resources to help you in your search for an obituary record, including libraries, internet databases, and public records.
The Alaska State Library has compiled a guide called the Alaska Newspaper Project which includes the Alaskan newspapers, published from 1866 to 1998, that are currently available on microfilm.
One way to find a newspaper you are looking for is to contact the library in the city where the paper was published. You can find a list of all Alaska libraries on this site. This list includes the city, address and phone number for each library.
OldDeathRecords.org has a searchable database of 1 billion records that includes death records, obituaries, necrology lists, death notices, murders, suicides, funeral cards, cemetery listings and headstone photos.
WorldCat.org is an internet database that you can use to search for the name of a newspaper. You can find the libraries that maintain archives of that newspaper, as well as the years available at each library.
Alaska's Digital Archives can be accessed online and include Alaska State Library Historical Collections, University of Alaska collections, as well as links to Alaskan exhibits and museums.
Anchorage Newspapers Obituary Index, includes obituaries published from January 1, 1981 through October 1, 2001. Find names by clicking on the first letter of the deceased person's last name and scrolling through the index. Listings include the date that the obituary appeared, the page number and the name of the Alaskan newspaper in which the notice was published. Microfilm records of these newspapers that were published from 1915 to 2010 are also available in the Alaska Collection.
The Obituary Daily Times (ODT) is hosted by RootsWeb. Founded in 1995, this website accesses 13 million indexed obituary records. The list of available records is increasing at the phenomenal rate of 2,500 a day. The site is completely supported by volunteers and moderators. This index is free and is among the largest listings in the world. Searches are easy to do and you can also subscribe to the Obituary Daily Times Mailing list for updates.
The records held in the Alaska Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics are considered strictly confidential until the statute of limitations has been reached, which in Alaska State is 50 years. For death records less than 50 years old, you may be required to prove that you are related to the deceased individual to be able to order a copy.
Death records older than 50 years are available and can now be ordered online. You can get a copy of a death certificate from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. Please be advised that you can only order copies for those death events that occurred in Alaska.
Alaska Vital Records can also be found on the website Ancestor Hunt. Here you can also access information on Alaska Newspaper Obituaries, Alaska Census, Alaska Newspaper List, All Free Public Records Information, Free Genealogy Information, Social Security Death Index and Alaska's Organized and Unorganized Boroughs.
If you are searching for a historical death record that is difficult to find, you may consider asking for help through your online social networks. Many people have been able to find historical information through their personal internet connections.