How to Find Archived Obituaries in Arkansas: Step-by-Step

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Are you looking for an obituary for a person with ties to Arkansas? We'll walk you through the process of how to find an obituary using online resources. If all the stars align, you could be minutes away from finding the obituary you are seeking.

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While we are hopeful that you'll find the obituary within a few moments, please don't get your hopes up too high. Finding an obituary, especially one from more than 100 years ago, may involve an in-person search through newspaper archives. We'll give you some tips for this type of search too.

First, let's start with how to do an online search to find an obituary in Arkansas.

How to Find Archived Obituaries in Arkansas

Most modern obituaries, or those written since the internet was commonplace, can be uncovered with a simple Google search. Input the person's full name, the word "obituary," and the city and state of the death. You might also need to add more clues for those with common names, such as the name of other family members that might be listed in the obituary.

However, if you are reading an article about how to find archived obituaries, we're guessing you have already done a simple online search. So here are the steps to go through if that search wasn't fruitful.

Step 1: Search for the death certificate of the deceased

The more information you have about the deceased, the more likely you will find their obituary from an online resource. So the first step to finding the obituary is to do a bit of research on the person.

Arkansas began the practice of keeping track of births and deaths in 1914. If you are looking for an obituary from after that time, consider first finding the person's death certificate. 

The death certificate may have the full legal name of the deceased that might have been used in the obituary. It would also have the location and date of death that might aid you in your search for a published obituary.

If you think the deceased died between 1935 and 1961, use this site from the Arkansas Department of Health to look up the death certificate. You can also access Arkansas death certificates from 1914 to 1969 through Ancestry.

You might also find information about the death from the Arkansas Digital Archives.

Armed with the name, birth date, death date, and place of death, continue your search using one of these online obituary tools.

Step 2: Use an online obituary search tool

There are several obituary search sites available. Some are paid sites, but you might be able to find the same information for free from other places. So before you dig out your credit card, make sure you have exhausted all of your options. 

Legacy

Legacy is the worlds' largest commercial provider of online memorials, and their website says that the company hosts obituaries for almost 70 percent of all U.S. deaths.

Even if you can't find the obituary you are looking for through Legacy, the website might link you to other helpful resources to aid you in your search, including Find a Grave, Ancestry, or the name of the funeral home that held the service. 

Tributes

Tributes' purpose is two-fold. First, this website allows families to submit the obituaries of their loved ones for a fee. Second, it also offers grief resources for those who are suffering the loss.

While this website might not help find an older obituary, it could assist those wondering if a person is still alive. 

Ancestry

Ancestry is a handy source for those researching their family trees, but not all website resources can be accessed for free. The website will help you complete a detailed search for obituaries published from 1930 to current times. 

If you can't uncover the article using the obituary tool, consider broadening your search to the entire website. Ancestry provides links to a lot of helpful online resources. Besides, you might be able to find more information from a long-lost second cousin's public family tree. 

Newspaper Archive

While we don't have any experience with this website, you might consider using Newspaper Archive to find the obituary you are seeking. Please note that Newspaper Archive offers a seven-day free trial, but after that, you will pay $139.90 per year for access.

GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank is another paid site that offers more than 260 million obituaries from 1690 to current times. Genealogy Bank allows you to search by state, and they have access to dozens of Arkansas newspaper archives. 

Step 3: Search historical records in Arkansas

Before you pay for an online obituary or newspaper archive, make sure the information isn't available to you for free. Here are some Arkansas-specific historical websites that may aid you in your search.

The Arkansas Historical Association is located on the University of Arkansas' campus. This website also has links to Arkansas county's historical societies

Also, consider using the University of Arkansas' genealogy research site. There, you can also find links to archived copies of Arkansas newspapers

Take a look at the Arkansas Genealogical Society's website for tips on finding an obituary. 

The more information you uncover about the deceased, the easier it will be to search through historical documents. If you know the year of death, you can search through newspaper obituaries from the local area during that year. 

Other Methods to Find Archived Obituaries From Arkansas

Were you able to find the obituary you were seeking? We hope so! However, if you couldn't find it, here are some other methods to try that don't involve a computer. 

Step 1: Talk with members of your extended family

Your parents and grandparents may be gone, but do you have any great aunts or uncles that could help you find the information you need? Or reach out to your second cousin (twice removed) that you connected with on Ancestry. This connection may be especially helpful if they live in Arkansas and have access to local records.  

Genealogical research is often a collaborative effort by several members of an extended family. If your grandparents aren't interested, find the person from their generation who had a passion for researching their family tree. 

Other family members may have a box full of old family documents, including the obituary you wish to find. Being a packrat isn't always bad! They may also have information about the person that will help you in your search. 

Step 2: Visit Arkansas historical societies

If you know the death and burial location, you might need to visit that county's historical society to find the obituary. 

Not all Arkansas newspapers may be digitally archived. Instead, they may be available on microfiche at the local library or found on dusty shelves in a historical society's basement. 

While this isn't the most convenient way to complete research on your family's history, it would certainly be a satisfying way to spend an afternoon.

Step 3: Hire a genealogist

If you haven't uncovered anything about your family member from your online and in-person research, consider hiring someone to research for you. Find a genealogist working in Arkansas—hopefully, one from the area where your ancestor lived and died. 

A local genealogist might be able to access records not available to the average person, such as church or cemetery records. They may also know people in the community who kept scrapbooks and had their own private community archive.

Still no luck?

Perhaps the obituary was never written. Remember, obituaries aren't legal documents. Families aren't required to submit obituaries to newspapers or websites after someone dies. In fact, even during current times, if the funeral home or religious organization doesn't complete this task on behalf of the family, it may not get done.

So, if no one in the deceased's family knew how to write an obituary or had questions about obituary etiquette that were unanswered, perhaps the task was never completed. Instead, you might look for death notices published by local funeral homes. But, unfortunately, the only information that might be uncovered by a death notice is the time and date of the funeral. 

Keep Your Family's History Alive

Hopefully, if you've learned anything from this experience, you have discovered the importance of recording your family's history for the next generation. 

So, reach out to older family members and ask them questions about their lives. Take notes or record the conversations. Ask them to share memories about their parents and grandparents and historical events they may have witnessed. 

Do what you can to be the family archivist for your generation. Keep an updated family tree and save copies of the family obituaries. Tell your own story as well. Consider writing your own obituary to do so. 

And, of course, take care when writing the obituary for other close members of your family. Tell their story instead of giving a long list of facts. Publish the obituary in a local newspaper or a website that allows you to submit obituaries for free

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