Monday, April 14, 2014

Extra! Get Your Kazoo Obits Here

You have an ancestor who died in Kalamazoo County and you desperately want to find an obituary. Where should you look? I'm happy to report that there are many options, depending on the time period. Not all of them are free, but depending on how many you are looking for there is probably an option to fit your budget.

Free Options:

KPL Digitized Newspapers. The Kalamazoo Telegraph and several other area newspapers have been digitized by the Kalamazoo Public Library. The years covered vary by newspaper, and sometimes there are holes in the coverage, but in general the years span 1845-1922. In addition to several Kalamazoo papers (not the Kalamazoo Gazette), newspapers for Allegan, Otsego, Fort Custer, Scotts (newly added) and Climax (newly added) can be searched by keyword here

Kalamazoo County Rootsweb Message Board. More recent obituaries (along with a handful of older ones) can be found on the Kalamazoo County Rootsweb message board.  While message boards are waning in popularity, the Kalamazoo County board is going strong thanks to some dedicated contributors. As of March 2014, there are a whopping 30,000 or so posts, many of them obituaries.

Kalamazoo Area Newspapers On Microfilm. Note: this is only free if you can make the trip to the Kalamazoo Public Library in downtown Kalamazoo. You can see the list of the many Kalamazoo area newspapers available on microfilm at the KPL here

Fee-Based Options:

GenealogyBank. The Kalamazoo Gazette (1-23-1837 to 12-31-1922) has been digitized and is keyword searchable. Kalamazoo Gazette obituaries from Jan 1, 2005 to the present are also available. The cost is about $70 for a year or $20 for a month. If you have never subscribed you can get a 30-day trial for about $10. This is the way to go if you have many relatives in the area (or in other areas covered by their newspapers). You can view the complete list of newspapers by state.

Kalamazoo Public Library Look-Ups. Library staff will conduct look-ups in the Kalamazoo Gazette if you can provide a death date or if you have the publication information from their online newspaper index (there is currently a gap that has not yet been indexed from 1890-1938). Copies are $3/look-up. You can find more information about this service here. To look in the newspaper index go to the Local Information Database page.  I recommend you read their tips on searching the database

If you think your person died in Kalamazoo county, but you don't know when, you have several options for finding an exact date of death (to the present day) and even a death record (1867-1933). For more information see Sources for Kalamazoo Death Records

I hope you find some great information in these resources. I sure have!

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