Obituaries have been published in Illinois since the mid-nineteenth century. Obituaries may provide information such as the age of the deceased, birth date and place, names of living relatives and their residences, maiden name, occupation, death date, cause of death, and place of burial. Deceased family members are frequently mentioned. Obituaries may also mention previous places of residence, immigration information, religion, and any social organizations or activities in which the deceased was involved.
The first step to obtaining an obituary is to find the death date of the person so that the obituary can be more easily found in a newspaper. Death dates may be obtained from the Illinois Statewide death index, or cemeteries in the local area where the person is believed to have died. Once a death date is known, the local library in the area may be contacted to learn whether or not they have newspapers for the time period needed, and if someone is willing to look for an obituary in that newspaper. Some libraries and even newspaper publishers keep obituary files. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (raogk.com) is an organization which has volunteers all over the world who will oftentimes look for an obituary.
For Illinois, some obituaries have been published and indexed in genealogical periodicals that are available in the Family History Library. These are referenced in the "Places" section of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) which is described in the "Illinois Periodicals" section. See the "Illinois Newspapers" section for additional sources and how to locate newspapers.
Obituaries and indexes from a few individual newspapers can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:
- ILLINOIS - OBITUARIES
- ILLINOIS, [COUNTY] - OBITUARIES
- ILLINOIS, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - OBITUARIES