Feature Article: Family History in Irish American Newspaper Obituaries

All newspapers have obituaries, but an important feature in Irish American newspapers is that they often picked up obituaries from areas far away from where the newspaper itself was published. And often these obituaries provide a useful piece of family history that can be hard to find in other sources: where in the Old Country your Irish American ancestor was born.

For example look at this obituary for Catherine Scully.

Irish Weekly World (New York City, New York), 2 December 1893, page 3.

Here we have an obituary about a widow who died in Albany, New York, that was published in a New York City newspaper.

This tells us that we want to be flexible with our family history research, and search beyond the town where our ancestor lived.

This obituary gives us a lot of information about Catherine—including where in Ireland she was born. This is a reminder that Irish American newspapers are a great source for finding the name of the town or county in Ireland where the person was from. This information is rarely in death certificates, but is common in newspaper obituaries.
  • She was the widow of Andrew Scully
  • She was born in Ballingarry, County Tipperary, Ireland
  • She died 3 November 1893, at her home in Albany, New York
  • Her maiden name was Hayde
  • She was buried in St. Agnes' cemetery
  • Mass was celebrated at St. John's Roman Catholic Church on 6 November 1893
  • She was survived by four children: Ellen, John, Lawrence and Patrick
  • She was a member of the Ladies' Catholic Benevolent Association, Branch 25
Genealogy Search Tips:
  • Be flexible in your searching
  • Search beyond the area where your ancestor lived
  • Look carefully at the obituary, reading closely for every clue