Research Tips: Obituary Index

The Obituary Index, maintained by the Johnson County Genealogical Society (JCGS), consistently tops the list of most visited JoCo History website collections. Upon first glance, the index can seem overwhelming, but once you learn how to use this tool, it can serve as a valuable resource in genealogical research.

Volunteers from the JCGS comb through the obituary sections of area newspapers each month to extract basic information about the deceased. They compile the name, date of death, and newspaper information including the date published and page number of each obituary. Johnson County Library staff then upload this information to guide researchers to the print obituary. Using this index cuts out hours of browsing through many newspapers by giving researchers the exact newspaper and page number to find any given obituary.

First, navigate to the Obituary Index, located towards the bottom of the home screen, so only that collection is searched.

Home page

Users can search in two different ways. To simply see what the collection has to offer, click ‘Browse’ at the bottom of the page. To search for a particular person, type the name into the search box in the top right.


For example, Angeline Carter passed away in Olathe in 1906. Note the multiple results for this name.

search results

Don’t assume that each result represents a different person as there are often multiple entries per individual. The index lists one entry per obituary so check each potential record. Note on the following screenshots that the date of death is the same, indicating all three of these entries are for the same Angeline Carter.

Angeline Carter 1Angeline Carter 2Angeline Carter 3

Also notice that two entries list the same newspaper. Check the publish date to determine if the same newspaper ran two different obituaries for this particular person. In this case, the Olathe Tribune published obituaries for Angeline Carter on January 26 and February 2, 1906.

The most important thing to remember is that the actual obituary will not show up linked to the index. Unfortunately, copyright laws and limited staff/volunteer time and resources keep us from publishing full newspaper articles. Remember that this is an index meant to direct users to the location of the obituary. Most of these newspapers are on microfilm at the Johnson County Library’s Central Resource Library in Overland Park. By using the information found in the index record, researchers can use the microfilm machines to find the actual obituary. Don’t know how to use the microfilm machines? No problem! The Johnson County Genealogical Society staffs a volunteer desk in the Genealogy section of the library 9:00 – 5:00 Monday – Saturday.

-Amanda Wahlmeier, Johnson County Library

Want to learn more about the library’s Genealogy area? Attend the National Genealogy Day Resource Fair on Saturday, March 9 from 10:00 – 3:00 at the Central Resource Library! For more information visit the National Genealogy Day Event Page.


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