Friday, November 1, 2013

Free GenealogyBank eBook on "How to Search Obituaries to Find Ancestors and Trace Your Family Tree"

Family Tree Magazine is offering a free eBook on How to Search Obituaries to Find Ancestors and Trace Your Family Tree by Thomas Jay Kemp, which will show you secrets to mining for obituaries of your relatives and ancestors.  The Free eBook can be obtained at

You have to enter your name, email address and state in order to receive the link to download the free eBook.  As a result of your entry, you will start receiving emails from Family Tree Magazine about their offers (which you can unsubscribe from if you wish).

The free eBook is 16 pages with examples of obituaries that you might find on GenealogyBank:

One of the examples in this book is for an obituary for a person in my database, Sarah (Pray) Wade (1795-1822).  It was from the Providence [R.I.] Patriot newspaper.  I didn't know, or recall, that GenealogyBank had that newspaper in the early 19th century.  Cool!

Who else died in that area in the early 19th century?  The first person I thought of was Humphrey White (1758-1814) of Glocester, Providence County, Rhode Island.  Is there an article in the Providence newspaper for him?  There was!

It's only an Administrators Notice, but if I did not have a probate record for him (I do), this would lead me to look in Glocester R.I. town and probate records.  The notice above was in Volume 12, Issue 33, Page 4, in the issue dated 27 August 1814.

I plugged in several more Rhode Island names, and then tried some southern Massachusetts names. In a search for Alpheus Smith (1802-1840) of Medfield, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, I found two articles in the Norfolk [Dedham, Mass.] Democrat newspaper:

The one above is another Administrator's notice (Volume II, Issue 4, page 2, issue dated 29 February 1840).  The one below is a Commissioner's Notice that persons have been appointed to receive and examine the claims of the creditors to the estate (Volume III, Issue 19, page 4, issue dated 11 June 1841):

Again, both of these notices would be leads for a researcher that there is probably a probate record for Alpheus B. Smith in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, probate records (I already have the probate records).

I have many more ancestral persons to try in these two newspapers!  I look forward to some genealogy fun in the next few days.

Tom Kemp's eBook provides excellent examples of what can be found in newspaper obituaries - names of relatives, mentions of birthplaces, immigration dates, interment locations, social activities, offices held, employment or business information, and much more.  All of those items found in an obituary may lead a researcher to several other records, including vital records, cemetery, military, immigration, citizenship, to name a few.

To be sure, not all newspapers are available in digital format on websites like GenealogyBank, NewspaperARCHIVE,, Chronicling America, Old Fulton Postcards, California digital Newspaper Collection, and more.  Some of them are commercial sites, and some are free sites.  But many historical newspapers are available in paper, microfilm or digital format - you just have to find them in a library, historical society or a website.  A researcher needs to include newspaper searches in a reasonably exhaustive search to find information about their ancestors.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

Disclosure:  I have a complimentary annual subscription to GenealogyBank, which I appreciate very much, but does not affect my opinion about the website.  I have not been remunerated in any way for this blog post.


Anonymous said...

Randy the Providence Patriot was a favorite paper in the Smithfield/Cumberland R.I. and Wrentham Mass. areas where my ancestors lived. Your readers with ancestors in those areas will want to be sure and check it out. It's where I found - a couple years ago - a notice where my ggggg-grandfather disowned his wife, my ggggg-grandmother. At the time, that was my only evidence of their marriage.

Jodi's Card Designs said...

I can't find this ebook on Family Tree or GenealogyBank anymore. Would you be willing to share it since it was free?

Randy Seaver said...


Send me your email address to

Unknown said...

I can't find this ebook, either! If it is still available, I would love to receive it!

Unknown said...

I have been unsuccessful in finding this free ebook, as well. Would you be able to share it with me? Thank you!!