Finding Obituaries

As this is one of the most common requests we receive at the NWMGS, we thought it warranted its own special page for information.

The St. Joseph Public Library (SJPL) has been indexing the obituaries that appear in the St. Joseph News-Press and the St. Joseph Gazette for many years. They have also worked back in time to 1951. Recently they have also begun to put these indexes on their website. (NOTE: not ALL of their indexes are yet available online, but they are working on adding them as fast as they can) This is a great asset if you are not sure which year someone died. Keep in mind that these indexes list the date the obituary appeared in the paper(s), NOT the actual date of death.

SJPL Obit Index

Here in Missouri we are fortunate to have the official death certificates available online. However, it can be frustrating to know when someone died, and where they lived, but NOT be able to find the death certificate. Keep in mind that the death obviously did not HAVE to take place near home. Here in Northwest Missouri we are very near three other states. We often see articles in the old papers that state, "Mr. Smith was visiting from his home in Omaha and passed away while visiting his sister." This is why the obit index is such a valuable tool to use in conjunction with the death certificates.

While the SJPL has the very best reference librarians, their time and resources are stretched like the rest of us. They will usually look in the index to see if a person has an obit if they are not too busy. However, we want to let you know that a) they are available online, and b) we also have a copy of the indexes at the NWMGS.

The library charges a minimum of $10 to actually acquire and mail you a copy. We will do the same at a charge of $5 per 1/2 hour, plus postage. In most cases, if you've found the date of the obit, the 1/2 hour will cover the travel and research time. We will also send the obit to you electronically if you so desire, to save postage and wait time. We know how much you really want to SEE that obit!!!

Another option to keep in mind is that there was a smaller newspaper called the St. Joseph Observer. This paper was published from 1915 - 1932. The Library of Congress has digitized much of this paper and it is available online to search. Since this was a weekly paper, the obituaries are not as complete as the daily newspapers, however, it is certainly worth a look (only 1915 - 1922 is digitized).

Library of Congress newspaper search

Ancestry.com has also recently added newspapers from Nodaway county.

And finally, please take a look at the Publications the NWMGS has put together. These include many indexes of newspapers from earlier years and throughout the 9 county area we serve. We are happy to look in these indexes to see if a name appears.

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St. Joseph Missouri
Convention & Visitors Bureau