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ProQuest Obituaries: Sample Searches

A guide to all aspects of ProQuest Obituaries including content, searching, and viewing results.

Sample Searches

1.      You are conducting research on the life and times of producer, director, and Disney creator Walter Elias “Walt” Disney and would like to read his obituary.

a.      Enter the following:

                                                    i.     Name: Disney

                                                   ii.     Date: Between: 12/10/1966 and 12/20/1966

                                                  iii.     Click Search

b.      Follow-up:

                                                    i.     How many results are retrieved? 

                                                   ii.     Which paper(s) returned results? 

                                                  iii.     Did the obituary and/or the publication(s) it was found in meet your expectations? 

1.      If yes, explain the criteria and information you expected to be relayed and how it met those expectations. 

2.      If no, explain what criteria and data you anticipated, why you consider those important, and provide reasons/educated guess as to why this obituary did not meet your expectations.


2.      You are conducting research on early-1900s tuberculosis related deaths in the Los Angeles, California area.

a.      Enter the following:

                                                    i.     Date: Between: 01/01/1900 and 12/31/1925

                                                   ii.     Publication: Los Angeles Times

                                                  iii.     Keyword: tuberculosis

b.      Additional information to consider:

                                                    i.     Tuberculosis was more commonly known as consumption and was frequently reported as such in obituaries. Thus we must consider this when constructing searches. Click the “Refine your search” link to amend your search criteria thusly:

1.      Keyword: tuberculosis OR consumption

c.      Follow-up:

                                                    i.     Does the modified search reveal hits in other newspapers found in this database?

                                                   ii.     How do the obituaries differ over time in reporting deaths of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis? Longer? Shorter?

                                                  iii.     Did the use of the term “tuberculosis” rather than “consumption” increase closer to 1930?  Does that change seem to be regional or national?


3.      After researching your family history (i.e., genealogical research) immediately following the U.S. Civil War you have found mention of a “Mrs. W.B. Thomas” that you would like to learn more about.  Although the details are few and vague, you know that the Thomas branch of your family tree was largely based in Athens, Georgia post-Civil War.  While you do not have a marriage certificate to identify her given (or first name) or her husband’s full given name, you search for an obituary using the newspaper most regionally relevant.

a.      Enter the following:

                                                    i.     Name: Mrs. W. B. Thomas

                                                   ii.     Publication: Atlanta Constitution

b.      Follow-up:

                                                    i.     How many records were retrieved?

                                                   ii.     Explain your rationale for selecting the obituary that most closely met your needs.

                                                  iii.     List at least two pieces of information found in the obituary that could lead to additional genealogical research.