Obituaries are amazing! Don’t underestimate the information that can come from those incredible documents. They can be difficult to find, but perhaps I can help with some tips.
Obituaries have been around for a long time—in fact, the earlier obits (as they are sometimes shortened) would often include a great deal of information regarding the deceased; maiden names, places of birth, information about parents and siblings, etc.
So how can you use them?
It isn't uncommon to see an obituary list the names of those who "survived" the deceased (this may include parents, siblings, a spouse and children)—if you are stuck tracing a family, don’t hesitate to use the name(s) of a sibling rather than your direct ancestor to see if you can find information regarding their parents, immigration, birthplaces, etc. This can be a wealth of information. Sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to find what you are looking for!
When looking for an obituary-- of course a great resource is the internet. Unfortunately, not every obituary (or any other record) will be listed online. Thus, one of the best ways to locate obituaries is through local libraries. Most county libraries can be contacted and you can ask them to search for an obituary in the local newspaper. Sometimes they will ask for compensation, but I have found that most of the time they will do a search for you for free. Keep in mind you'll need the date of death or at least a close approximation.