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Obituaries or death notices can be one of the best sources of secondary genealogical information. Currently, in Cleveland, a death notice is a paid newspaper entry including name, survivors, and funeral information, but can be much more as it is paid for by the line like a classified ad. An obituary is a usually longer biographical type offering, and is free, but only published at the paper's discretion. It is different in different localities and different time periods. Biographical type obituaries used to be for the rich and famous, and others, if mentioned at all, got something like, "John Smith died Wednesday last." When citing your newspaper, be sure to include the day of the week, because sometimes you have to calculate the death dates.

We include some resources here that are not necessarily for Cuyahoga County because obituaries are often placed in papers in surrounding areas. Also they can be in the news where a relative lived, or where the deceased lived prior to his last residence.

Obituaries: Plain Dealer, L, 6 June 1881, R, 3 May 1911.

Sources for Obituaries

  • 1850-1975 - "Cleveland Necrology File"- These are searchable and show the actual obituaries, a few as early as 1833. Be aware that these were scanned using OCR technology and spelling errors occur frequently.
  • 1975 - 1999 plus some to 2014 - the "Cleveland News Index" - These are now combined with the Necrology File are not the actual obituaries. You have to note the name, paper, date of publication and page number.

    To obtain a copy of the obituary, email the Center for Local and Global History at the Cleveland Public Library at, giving them the name, newspaper, date of publication and page number. They will send you three obits for free via email. Or, you can write to them via snail mail at: Cleveland Public Library Center for Local and Global History, 325 Superior Ave., Cleveland, Ohio, 44114-1271. (Phone 216-623-2864). Be sure to include your mailing address. If you need more than three obits, contact the Photoduplication Department at the same mailing address above or at and they will give you an estimate of the charges involved. If you live nearby you can stop at the library and make your own copies at 10 cents each.

    Alternatively, with a Cleveland Public Library card or Cuyahoga County Public Library Card, Plain Dealer Historical, 1845-1991, is online at their site at under research databases. More recent papers, 1991 to current are also there. However the recent ones will include the obituaries but not the death notices.

  • Past Six Months - shows the actual obituaries from the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.
  • Cleveland Jewish News Obituaries -- Recent
  • Cleveland Jewish News Obituary Database, inception through 2011 by Helen Wolf and on the site of Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland
  • Jewish Independent Obituary Database, 1898-1982 by Helen Wolf and on the site of Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland (also on
  • Stafford, Kenneth E., comp. Cleveland Newspaper Index to Marriages and Deaths (1818-1876). (Cleveland, Ohio: Greater Cleveland Genealogical Society, 1998). This publication covers the Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register, Cleaveland Register, Cleveland Herald, Clevland Whig, Cleveland Herald and Gazette, Cleveland Weekly Herald, Cleveland True Democrat, Cleveland Weekly True Democrat, and Cleveland Leader.
  • Call & Post Obituaries Index on CD by African American Genealogical Society of Cleveland, Ohio available at Cleveland Public Library and Western Reserve Historical Society
  • Greater Cleveland Genealogical Society is currently indexing the Fairview Herald.
  • Ohio Genealogical Society maintains a card index of Ohio obituaries, including a large number of Florida deaths of Ohioans.
  • Obituary Central, a free search engine of online obituaries. It will be only recent obits, those online by the newspapers.
  • Ohio Obituary Index by R.B. Hayes Library covers about half of Ohio's counties, strongest in NW Ohio, but includes most of the counties surrounding Cuyahoga.
  • Obituary Index, by Northeast Ohio Regional Library System, offers an index for counties around Massillon, Ohio.
  • Obituary Daily Times, a volunteer indexing project from many mostly recent papers. A bit hit or miss, but worth a shot.
  • Fairly recent.
  • Fairly recent.
  • (Has Checkmate popup ads)
  • Obituaries and Memorial Programs from Genealogy Tracers of Cleveland, Ohio. The database is on the Allen County Public Library site.
  • Evangelical Messenger Obituary Index on the Allen County Public Library site
  • Search newspapers themselves, and their archives. See Newspapers.
  • Funeral Homes often have obituaries on their web sites for those they service. See Funeral Homes.

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This page was created 30 November 2013 last updated on 2 September 2015.

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