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What once was only a printed item in the local newspaper has gone global

 The internet has made it relatively easy to find obituaries published since about the beginning of the twenty-first century for individuals all over the world. That wasn’t always the case, however, as anyone who has pursued genealogy research can tell you. Today’s digital record makes it far easier to preserve the stories that make up our family histories. 

When I was a cub reporter at the Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette in the late 1970s and 1980s, obituaries were little more than enhanced death notices. Seldom were there any mentions of what the person was like as an individual. It was basic biographical information, maybe where they worked, and a list of survivors. Heck, you might even have to read down into the obit to learn a married woman’s first name, since they often were listed as Mrs. (husband’s first name) and last name. 

We were years away from the internet as we know it today, so if you missed the obituary in the printed newspaper, you were out of luck. Funeral homes and newspapers did not have websites on which to post obituaries. There was no such thing as social media. Obituaries existed in newspapers only, and then later on microfilm. 

I recall completing my employment test article at the Press-Gazette on a manual typewriter in a smoke-filled newsroom. The first monochrome video display terminals (VDTs) were just coming into play, and data ran through an in-house mainframe computer. Funeral homes often called us to submit last-minute obituaries that we took by dictation, typing quickly as we held the phone receiver between our shoulder and ear. We didn’t have time to be very creative, especially if it was on deadline. 

My, how things have changed … for the better. 

Take advantage of multimedia options that make genealogy easy

There really is no limit to what we can do with obituaries today, and that’s great news for future genealogy researchers. I like to say a good obituary can serve a pre-genealogy function because we can make it easy for future generations to learn about their ancestors. Think about how thrilled you would be to discover details about your great-grandparents in your research like we can provide today. 

There is no limit now as to when we can prepare an obituary. We can work on creative obituaries on deadline, way ahead of time, or even well after a death, and post them to any number of websites. Families have their own websites, I certainly have a list of obituaries on my website, funeral homes have websites, and newspapers with their websites are still in existence as of this writing, although print versions are quickly becoming a thing of the past. 

In addition, video obituaries featuring photos and video clips have homes on YouTube and other social media platforms, and the ones I produce also can reside on my website. Pre-genealogy efforts in the form of written and video obituaries can help future generations see as well as read about you and your family. What a cool resource we have in today’s Information Age technologies! 

About is a service of professional obituary writer Mike Dauplaise. Contact me to produce your choice of written, audio and video versions of creative obituaries in advance or on short notice. All projects come with 100% satisfaction guarantee and unlimited revisions.