The obituary is a short blurb (for the most part) memorializing a recent individual that passed away. Depending on the year, and the person’s obituary is most likely never on the day of the death, but a day after to who-knows-when. Remember, the newspaper is not obligated to write every single person’s obituary. The responsibility falls on the loved one of the recently passed.
The majority of the time I find the obituary two or three days after the passing. Once I found an obit four days after the day, and that was because of the end of the year holiday. Another time I looked up the person in the index for obituaries and it was six days after the fact.
One of the obituaries that I found was Dr. James McNaughton. He passed away away June 11th, 1874, and the obituary were published June 29th, 1874. The reason was written within the obituary. Dr. McNaughton passed away in France, and the news paper finally received word. The only reason why they had any form of obituary was the fact he was the second Albany Medical School’s President. An important individual of Albany, NY.
What is not normal is the size of the obituary?
They can range of all sizes. I have seen one or two sentences from one paragraph the example will be on the larger size for an obituary.
Who needs them?
Information is good, and obituaries can pack a lot of information in a short package. People looking for genealogy needs, this is a key source.
- Living Arrangements
- Friends and Family
- The Funeral Ground
My example will be Nathaniel C. Moak a well respected District Attorney between 1871-173. He was born October 3rd, 1833 and died September 17th, 1892.
First, notice under the caption September 18th. That is one day after the event.
What did we learn about Nathaniel C. Moak?
- Place and Date of Birth/Death
- Loved ones (but not their names)
- Personality and Political Leanings
- Work History
- Names of Associates and Friends
- Past Trials
- Masonic Information
- A sketch image.
I have scoured the internet looking for images on this guy, Moak, and only found one image. This is another one. Is it only a sketch, but it was something new.
At the end of the day all those items that I listed can help with new leads and potentially lead to a story of Moak’s life.