Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reference Services: Obituary Searches

One popular service we provide here at the Arkansas State Library is obituary searches.

While we do not have the staff or the resources to do in-depth genealogical research for our patrons, we can search the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for obituary notices. If you are interested in having us do an obituary search for you, please provide us with a name and an exact date of death. The search covers approximately one week following the provided date. Unfortunately, we cannot do a search without the date of death, although you are welcome to come in person and search the microfilm yourself.

The Arkanas Gazette archives go back to 1819 on microfilm, and the Democrat-Gazette records are available through an online subscription from 1984 to the present.

A couple of caveats about obituary searches: There will be no obituary if the family did not provide one to the newspaper. If the deceased did not live in Little Rock or the surrounding towns, the chances of there being an obituary go down sharply. You may need to search the local paper instead; we do not have any local papers here at the library, but the Arkansas History Commission has a wide range of historical Arkansas newspapers on microfilm. And finally, African-American deaths were often not noted in the newspaper during the 19th and early 20th century.

Requests can be made in person, over the phone, and through the Ask A Librarian form on our website.