Obituaries How To
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An important research resource is obituaries, providing death dates, burial locations, relationships and often the location of relatives. The Cleveland/Cuyahoga area is fortunate to have two readily searchable databases for obituaries, the "Necrology" for dates up to April of 1975 and the Cleveland Public Library database of newspapers since that time.

NECROLOGY            Searchable Database
A necrology is a listing of people who have died, especially in the recent past or during a specific period. If you hang around Cleveland area researchers for long you will hear references to "the necrology" frequently and this huge database is what they are referring to. The online version was "produced from a microfilmed copy of an alphabetical card file containing local cemetery records and newspaper death notices gathered by the staff of the Cleveland Public Library. A small collection of records from the Cleveland Bureau of Vital Statistics and some indexed items from the Annals of Cleveland were also part of the original card file and are also included in the database. The newspaper source material consists of paid notices which were published in the following newspapers: Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1850-1975, the Cleveland Herald, 1833, 1847-1848, 1876, 1878-1879 and the Cleveland Press, August 16, 1941 - 1975. This file is not an official or complete record of deaths in the Cleveland area during those years. It was not always customary during this time period for individuals to use paid newspaper notices. In addition, the cemetery records included in this database may not be complete."[1]

The search method is simple but fairly powerful. You may search either by name or by keyword. If you are seeking a specific individual, you may enter it as surname, givenname - e.g., Smith, John. If no misspellings crop up the exact deceased individual you are searching may pop up. You may enter just one part of the name, surname or given. This can be very useful with unusual given names. Searching by 'Name' searches only the decedents name, searching by keyword includes the other individuals listed in the notice. You can even use combinations of surnames in the keyword search such as entering Timm Voss which results in all notices with both Timm and Voss in the entry. This can be very useful when you have some common names in the family!

Once you have some results, you can save these results individually by clicking on the little box at the start of each entry or by clicking on the Save All button on the right at both top and bottom of the list. When you have searched through your results and saved the entries you want, go to Saved Records [in the link list on the left]. You can deselect any of the saved records by clicking on the checkbox. Here you can email the saved records to yourself or to someone else.

Cleveland News Index           Searchable Database
The online Cleveland News Index lists citation information for local news stories, feature articles and reviews from:

  • THE PLAIN DEALER (1983-June 1999)
  • CLEVELAND MAGAZINE (1983-present)
  • NORTHERN OHIO LIVE (Sept. 1990-present)
  • OHIO MAGAZINE (Oct. 1990-present)
Obituaries from the PLAIN DEALER and the CLEVELAND PRESS are included from 1976 to the present.

This index does not provide full text access to these sources but it does provide a specific reference. For example, I entered the name Timm and got a listing of some 75 entries [25 to a results screen] beginning with Timm and going on to Timmer, Timmerman, et cetera. I clicked on the one for Walter, my husband's father, and got this information:

TIMM, WALTER F : Husband of Verna (Obit.).
Plain Dealer 30 Jan, 1993, pg. 06 sec. D

I can click further on this entry but it really doesn't give me any more information on Walter but what I can do is email the Cleveland Public Library at Microform.Center@cpl.org with the information and request a copy of the obituary.


1 From the database description at CPL

Probate Court Deaths Coroner Case files Deaths Section Main Page Home Page

Lorraine "Sunny" Newsome, my co-coordinator, passed away recently. Shortly afterwards this site was attacked by a MALWARE. When it was discovered, the site was appropriately shut down by Rootsweb. Non-infected files have been uploaded but in the process some files were lost as they were ones Sunny had worked on and I did not have copies at all or have outdated copies. Please let me know about any missing or broken links.
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last edited 11 Sep 2018[an error occurred while processing this directive] visitor