Finding the date of death of your ancestors


Most genealogists have probably more birth dates on their family tree than death dates (or years). The reason for this is that it is primarily through censuses and baptism records that we find our ancestors.

Censuses and baptism records, not to forget the notices of marriage and confirmation, are all sources that were recorded while our ancestors were still alive. In other words, there are a number of sources that refer to our ancestors while they were still alive and can point to when they were born.

When our ancestors left this world is a completely different matter. This is often only documented once, through the records of the dead and buried.

How often don’t we just rush to the next relative when we finally have found the name of the parents of our forefather because we eventually found the baptism date?

I’ll take it later

It is fun to add new names to the family tree. It is then easy to delay the task of finding the date of death of our ancestors.

To find the date and place is also a little more difficult. Often we do not know the accurate date or even year when the person died and with that the job of “browsing” the church records is more time consuming. The person may also have died just about anywhere and thus the number of church records that need to be searched can be numerous.

There are several reasons why you should find the date of death

The date of death can be some of the most exciting information we have about a relative, except for stories and family life. With the date of death we will know how long the person lived and in some cases also the cause of death.

We can then gradually build up our own overview of the medical family history. Did our relatives die of old age or were “heart defects” the reason that took their lives?

Read also: 65 questions you can ask your relatives

Find the date of death via death ads

More and more content on is now being transcribed, ie made searchable. So we don’t have to “browse” in scanned church records, page after page, in search of information about our ancestors. The job of finding the date of death is becoming much easier.

Another way that makes it easier to find the date of death is through the death ads that have been published in a country’s local, regional and / or national newspapers. Unfortunately, many of these are behind payment walls in so-called + editions of the online newspapers.

On the Norwegian Våre Minnesider‘s webpage (Our Memorial Pages), however, you can, completely for free, search for death ads that have been published in Norway this year or even several years back in time.

The death ads do not only give you the date of death (and place), but also an overview of close relatives as these sometimes are listed under the name of the deceased.