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Nevada Obituaries

Writing a family history or doing a family tree is not just a pastime, but a considerable undertaking. It's fascinating to trace a family back to its roots, learning about how people lived a long time ago; it's not a movie, it's not a book, it's your own very real family. Some useful (though morbid) documents would be obituaries, death notices, or death certificates. The first two are published in newspapers, announcing the death of a person and, in the case of obituaries, providing quite a lot of potentially useful information such as family members left behind by the person whose obituary it is. All in all, obituaries are an excellent source of genealogical and biographical information.

As more and more people try their hand at genealogical research, historical record repositories like libraries, historical societies and local authorities are taking care to facilitate the process as much as possible. Nevada libraries have put indexes of their newspaper records online, making it super easy to find a particular issue, granted it is part of their collection. The only thing you need to know before that is the full name of the person who you are researching, their date and place of death, and the name of the newspaper.

This information may be readily available for those who have passed away recently but family histories are usually about more distant ancestors, a fact which in many cases makes the obituary search more or less challenging. There are, however, resources that will help you overcome the challenges and find the obituary if there is one. Alternatively, you can request a copy of the person's death certificate -- it is also a valuable document for genealogy.

Your first stop along the way should be one of the few good online obituary databases. Your search engine of choice will display these at the top of the results page. These websites are more reliable when it comes to more recent obituaries, but with older ones their databases are not so comprehensive. This is important to bear in mind in order to avoid coming to the conclusion that if there is no obituary on one of them for instance, then it doesn't exist at all.

There are also helpful local websites, usually the work of volunteers, such as this death index for Mineral county. These could sometimes be the best source of obituary information, because the contributors include not just newspaper obituaries or funeral home announcements, but personal documents, which may be unavailable anywhere else. The same goes for cemetery records, which can be valuable in cases when there is no obituary and no death certificate. Though cemetery records do not contain much information, at least they will give you the dates of birth and death, and the full name of the person you are researching, as well as, maybe, the names of their immediate family members.

Obituary websites use information from newspapers, funeral homes, and sources like the Social Security Death Index, so for the most part you can rest assured that the information is reliable. While some require paid subscription to display the full text of the obituary, most are free to view either an index entry including the full name of the decedent, date of death, date of publication of the obituary, and name of the newspaper, or the full text of the announcement. If you find an entry about the object of your research without the full text, your next step would be to contact the local library and request a copy of the newspaper issue. In some cases, this would be your own local library, but in others, it would be the library in the place of residence of the decedent.

Before going to the library in person or writing an e-mail to them, you should be able to browse their digital resources, to see if that particular library keeps the run of the newspaper you need. The UNLV libraries, for example, keep an alphabetic index of local newspapers on their website, complete with details about the range of issues they have.

The UNLV libraries also have a vast newspaper collection. Some of the newspapers it keeps go back to the 1870s, and it also has a range of other genealogy resources, including family histories, church records, and census data.

Libraries also have the advantage of providing you with access to specialized paid subscription services, which you can use on-site. These include sources of information like NewsBank and the Ancestor Library Edition. The official government websites for Nevada can all be accessed from The Nevada State Library and Archives also has an extensive genealogy research database. Resources include a lot of historical newspaper runs, church archives, an obituary index from the Nevada Appeal, an index of death records from 1911 to 2005, and many more.

But obituaries are not something that is published for every person's death. There is a possibility that however hard you search, there is no obituary to be located. In that case, the Nevada Office of Vital Statistics and county recorder's offices are the places to look. The Office of Vital Statistics keeps death records from July 1, 1911 onwards. You can request a copy of a certificate if you are a direct family member of the person named on the certificate. If not, you can try locating direct family members who would make the request on your behalf. If the death certificate you need dates earlier than 1911, then you should contact the recorder's office in the county where the event occurred.

Obituary searches can be a pretty tough endeavor, especially if you start out with scarce information. But they are rewarding, as you will get to learn so much about not just the one person whose obituary you had set out to find but about their whole family, and about local history too. There are plenty of resources both online and offline that will aid you in that search and help you get to the (successful) end of it more quickly and successfully.