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.
Generally, 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. If the newspapers are not held at the library, the local newspaper office may also be contacted to learn where older editions of the newspaper are kept. 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 in a local area.
Obituary Resources On Line
A new Obituary database is available through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. This is a "collection of obituary citations compiled over the years form research that has been done in the ALPL Newspaper Microfilm Collection." You will not find the actual obituary, but citations for the obituary which will indicate the newspaper in which it is located along with the date, page and column.
Browning Genealogy: Evansville Area Obituary Search: Query results for Illinois: 2547 records matched. Even though this resource is based in Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, the number of Illinois references, makes this resource helpful for Illinois researchers.
The Internet Archive may occasionally have published books which include a collection of obituaries. To search this archive, type Illinois Obituaries in the search box.
Additonal Obituary Resources
The "United States Obituaries" and "United States Newspapers" Wiki articles list sources for finding obituaries and the newspapers that published them. Also, see the "Illinois Newspapers" section for additional sources and how to locate newspapers.
For Illinois, some obituaries have been published and indexed in genealogical periodicals. Many of these are referenced in the "Places" section of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) which is described in the "Illinois Periodicals" section.
- Brieschke, Walter L. Index of obituaries printed in the Southern Illinois Herald newspaper, 1893-1922 (Murphysboro, Illinois : Jackson County Historical Society (TN), 1985) FHL book 977.3994 V4
- Custer, Milo, Central Illinois obituaries, 1848-1870 (Bloomington, Illinois: Bloomington - Normal Genealogical Society, 1980.) WorldCat 9922698;
- Custer, Milo, Central Illinois obituaries, 1871-1880 (Bloomington, Illinois : Bloomington - Normal Genealogical Society, 1969.) WorldCat 14189333; FHL book 977.3 A1 no. 219
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