When you're trying to construct your family tree, you need to know about more than just your immediately family. Some people have a lot of information about their heritage, but others are missing information about entire branches. There are many ways to get this information (including searching state-held vital records), but those usually cover only a single person in the family.
One of the best ways to get information about many family members from a single publication is to rely on obituary records. Often, these pieces of documentation include the names the deceased as well who they were survived by and what area they resided in. The family determines how much information is included in the obituary, but in some cases every surviving member of the family is included in the piece. There are obituaries that even list the people who the now deceased survived in life.
Obituaries can be an important piece of your puzzle, but they aren't always available through a quick Internet search. You could get lucky and plug the name into a search engine and find what you're looking for. If the person passed away in the last 10-15 years, that might actually work. Nearly every publication offers digital versions of their printed articles and notices, and, in some cases, they offer information online that won't make the paper. Obituaries that go back more then 20 years, however, may require some digging.
If you're looking for records from Vermont, there is not a centralized option that allows you to look online for free to uncover obituary records. In fact, most counties can barely claim a database that has a reliable amount of older records of this type. The availability is scattered and may require a fair amount of work on your part. You can start your search at the Vermont government website, Vermont.gov.
If you don't have the time to do the research, there are some paid services that will do it for you if you hire them through their websites. Some will track down just the obituary that you are looking for while others are subscription services that allow you to track your genealogy as a whole. Genealogy websites make tracking this information their business, so they often have a huge amount of data that is not available for free on the Internet.
If you'd rather manage the search on your own, there are plenty of different places that you can start. If you know which newspaper published the obituary, you can get in touch with their archives department and find out what their procedure is for tracking them down. Some newspapers, however, defer to the local libraries for this kind of archival information. Other publications are no longer in print so you will have to follow up with the local library to achieve what you're looking for.
If you are not sure of the date of death of the deceased, then you might want to start somewhere else before embarking on the attempt to find the records. Just because you don't know the date of death off hand doesn't mean that the information does not exist. If the person died in Vermont, then the death certificate is Vermont public record and available from the Vermont Department of Health. They are also house at the Vermont State Archives if the death certificates are more than 50 years old.
Vermont has a very open public records law as opposed to many other states, and they allow open access to all vital records up to and including death records. Interested parties do not have to prove who they are or why they want access to the information. Informational copies of records can be requested easily, but they cannot be used as official, certified copies. Certified copies require a different procedure.
The Burlington Free Press, one of the largest newspapers in Vermont, is kept on microfilm in the Fletcher Free Library. If the obituary that you need is contained within one of the issues, the library can copy it off of the microfilm and mail you the copy. If you don't know what issue the obituary ran in, the process can be more difficult for library staff, researchers or volunteers, so keep that in mind as you're sending them information. They'll need, at very least, the full name of the deceased and the exact date of his or her death. They also request information on the last place that the person lived before passing away, even if it wasn't in the county or in Vermont.
The Fletcher Free Library has strict policies as opposed to many other library locations throughout the United States, and they require the date of death in order to be able to complete the search. Unfortunately, they lack the resources and funds to devote staff to searching through archives in order to find the exact issue that you need if you can't provide an exact date. While other places may allow a two-week timeframe, Fletcher does not.
A large majority of the death records from Vermont, however, are available through the Archives website as well as for free through FamilySearch.com. By logging on to the website and selecting "Deaths and Burials", you will be directed to a searchable database of Vermont Death records that can tell you precisely when the person in question passed away so you can make your request through the Fletcher Free Library or through other similar organizations.
By having a library card through the Burnham Memorial Library, locals citizens get access to a huge genealogy database called HeritageQuest. The best part is that you don't have to be in the library or near the county to do your search. If you're a library member, you can call the branch and get the current login and password.
The Department of Libraries in Vermont and Bailey-Howe at the University of Vermont have a huge archive of Vermont newspapers that are maintained on microfilm. Called the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project, they focus mainly on the pages from 1836 to 1922. The digitization of these files will be a huge step in the right direction for the maintenance of historical documents as well as the understanding of the way of life that was common throughout those year. As the issues get added to the record, the obituaries contained within the documents are also made available for citizens.
Vermont is more limited in online access to obituaries, but that does not mean that they cannot be acquired. They require more leg work, but it may be worth it to get the information you need to complete your genealogical history.