How to Find Archived Obituaries in Florida: Step-By-Step

Updated

Obituaries are written files detailing the many characteristics, experiences, and attributes of the deceased. After someone passes away, obituaries are used to tell their life story and provide some comfort to their loved ones.

Normally, a trusted loved one writes an obituary and shares it during the funeral service or memorial service, regardless of if they decide to cremate or bury the remains. Many people even write their obituaries before passing away (look up how to write an obituary for yourself to begin writing your obituary).

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Obituaries may be featured with information like the deceased’s age, background information, surviving family members, funeral information, and childhood stories. Studying more on obituary etiquette before writing can help to clear out any confusion and give information in regards to any questions you may have about the document. Inquiries may include what information should be contained in the obituary.

In society, obituaries play an important role by giving applause and final farewell to our loved ones. They might be straightforward, joyous, light, funny, or blunt. Searching for an obituary might be a long task especially in a large U.S. state, but it’s possible.

If you’re looking to acquire more details on the deceased or even just checking to validate that someone has passed, finding their obituary can be a huge step in giving you the needed information. 

What Is An Archive of Obituaries?

An archive of obituaries is a group of saved obituaries that might be accessed after the funeral to learn more pertaining to the deceased. This is beneficial if you’re looking for information on an old colleague or coworker that may have passed away.

Reading through their obituary may give you a clearer understanding of what happened and their story. This can also give you tranquility if you’ve just discovered that a loved one died a while ago and you’d like to learn more about their story.

Also, reaching out to a professional or someone that knows how to write an obituary is a good idea. With all of the insights they supply you with, it is vital to know how to find an obituary, for research purposes or to learn more about a loved one that might be deceased.

Every single state holds an archive of obituaries containing those who were residents before passing away. The greatest way to begin your search is by locating which state the deceased lived in beforehand. If you have a loved one who has died in Florida, it is possible to locate their obituary somewhere in Florida’s archive of obituaries. Many states offer up a free online obituary for folks looking to upload information about their loved one.

How to Find Archived Obituaries in Florida for Free

Typically, family members or the funeral home hosting the wake or funeral will list the obituary in their local paper to share details about services for loved ones, neighbors, or community members. It may take some digging based on the date of death, but there are many ways to find archived obituaries in Florida at no charge to you.

There are a plethora of paths you might take to access someone’s obituary. Below are some options that can help you with this deep dive. Searching through obituaries can potentially be a challenging process, so try to stay patient as you embark on this task.

Step 1: Collect as much information as you can

Before starting on this large search, make sure you have all the relevant information regarding the person you are looking for. When it comes to obituaries, many of them can include the following details:

  • Name (including maiden name)
  • Date of birth
  • Date of death
  • Places of residence
  • University or college alma mater
  • Degrees earned
  • Career or place of work
  • Next of kin, such as surviving spouse and children
  • Funeral arrangements

You can obtain this information from other family members or loved ones who can help you with your search. Sometimes even just having the name of their alma mater can make the difference when it comes to finding the obituary.

Step 2: Conduct a basic search online

The first step for you might be performing an online search for the obituary. Go to an online browser and locate a credible site that contains the Florida obituary archives. The website might say something containing the words “public records search” or “Florida obituary search”. It should also allow you to enter their name, date of death, or date of birth. Try to be as specific as possible here.

There is also the possibility that the person may still be alive, which can be determined through obtaining a death certificate in Florida. If you have all the relevant information required, you may be able get a copy through the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Florida.

Step 3: Search local newspapers

Searching through local Florida newspapers can be an easy way to locate the obituary that you’re focusing on. The top regional newspapers in Florida include the following:

  • Orlando Sentinel
  • The Miami Herald
  • Palm Beach Post
  • South Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • St. Petersburg Times
  • The Tampa Tribune

Many newspapers publish obituaries on their sites, therefore you can check online to see if the deceased is presented here. Other websites may only feature more recent deaths, so this step might only work if the death occurred in the last two or three years. When you get to the newspaper website look at their “obituaries” tab to search through the records on file.

Step 4: Looking through public death documents

Also, you can check out some Florida obituaries on the Public Library website. This allows you to input the name, city, and state to search through public death records. While this public library website can help, it is best to go searching through a specific local library — whether that is a county library or a city library. For example, many of the public libraries in Florida have access to the microfiche index of Vital Statistics going as far back as 1887.

Once you have found the document or record you want, you can put in a request through the Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics in Jacksonville.

Step 5: Find an obituary site

In the event you come up empty after searching through old records and newspapers, you can go to a credible obituary site online. There are companies that have been created to provide documentation featuring the deceased, offering a collection of records and information for individuals to learn more. Services like Legacy, Tributes, or Ancestry may be the right place to start. 

These organizations host information from all over the world on family legacies and people that have passed away. You might be able to obtain a purchase-free trial or reach out to somebody on their staff to inquire more about their Florida obituary archives. They offer a huge supply of information from states all over, so the more specific details you provide, the more you can target your search.

Other Methods to Find Archived Obituaries in Florida

There are multiple ways that you can try to locate an archived obituary in the state of Florida. There is a large source of information optional for you to move forward with your inquiry. The main focus is on the specific details that you have, inputting them correctly, and working your search from there.

There’s no need to get discouraged if it takes longer than you expected to find your loved one’s obituary. There are people available to assist you with this process and to offer you more information that you might need. 

Sometimes it can be challenging to locate the specific obituary that you’re searching for but, with your dedication and time, you can make it happen. Below are some other optional tips to locate the obituary you want.

Credible genealogy or public records websites

One helpful site is Genealogy which will actually search through Florida newspapers for you to help learn more about your ancestors, for example. Another powerful search tool is Private Records where you can complete a free search on the deceased you’re in search of.

Another option is going through the website Genealogy Buff, which is a link directory of almost all public record searches, down to specific marriage and death notices by county.

The Florida State Genealogical Society

This nonprofit organization touts a robust search option, with some documents going as far back as 1885. Their public records section includes an option to search by last name through their existing documents compiled from places like the Tampa Tribune and others.

They also provide target organizations to search for an obituary or other relevant information, such as military service records, cemetery listings, and other information that you may not have considered.

Reach out to the funeral home 

The last tip would be to contact the funeral home that held their reception or memorial service. If the service was recent, you can search through social media or reach out to any of their relatives to see if there was a memorial and where it was held. As a result, you can either go to the funeral home website or contact the funeral home directly.

They may be able to provide an archive of obituaries either on their website or point you to a printed copy once placed in a newspaper.

Guide to Finding Archived Obituaries in Florida State 

An obituary is created to tell the story of someone. This helps loved ones, friends, and community members to cope and begin grieving. They leave behind the deceased’s legacy on a single sheet of paper and officially mark their death. Obituaries also help to give loved ones a chance to reminisce and honor the life of the deceased. 

Regardless of your reason for searching, there are multiple, free ways to receive a copy of an obituary. There are many ways to help refine the search and help you get what you are looking for.


Sources: 
  1. Campbell, Jessica. “How To Find An Obituary For A Specific Person”. Legacy, 4 September 2019, Legacy.com.
  2. “Florida, U.S. Death Index, 1877-1988.” Ancestry, 2022 Ancestry.com.

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