Obits in your Inbox

A few weeks ago I attended a fantastic webinar put on by the Guild of One Name Studies. If you haven’t heard about their free webinar series this year, I highly recommend signing up for some of their offerings!

During the webinar a really interesting resource was mentioned in passing and afterwards I immediately went to investigate. I’m sure many of us have used to read obituaries online. But did you know that will send you emails when new obituaries include keywords of your choosing? It’s true!

The ObitMessenger is useful for those conducting one-name studies, however there are many other applications for genealogists. Some examples include locating:

  • People with a particular surname
  • High school or college classmates
  • Veterans and military buddies
  • People from a particular state or town
  • Members of a particular club, organization, fraternity, etc.
  • Obituaries from a particular newspaper
  • People who were or will be buried in a particular cemetery

To set up your own search visit or look for a link on the homepage that says “sign up for obituaries via email.”


Set the search parameters:

  • Select specific newspapers or all newspapers
  • Enter one or more keywords and select the Boolean search operators that should link the keywords (AND or OR)
  • Choose whether to search only the surname, surname and maiden name, or full text
  • Enter details to sign up for an account and select the frequency of the alerts

Several months ago I decided to attempt a one-name study on my grandfather’s surname, Straughen, so I set up a search that will alert me weekly of all new obituaries that include Straughen OR Straughn OR Straughan anywhere in the text.

The trade off of signing up for this free service is that the emails you receive are littered with advertising, however, that’s a price I’m willing to pay to have a custom search delivered to my inbox on a regular basis!


Can you think of any more ways that Legacy obituary alerts could contribute to your research? Share your ideas in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Obits in your Inbox

Add yours

  1. This is a great idea. I have an alert set up for a missing person use their married and birth surname as keywords. I don’t know if she re-married but if the obit has either of those names she might turn up one day.

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