National Library Week: Free access to ProQuest’s obituary database

National Library Week is celebrated across the country from April 13 through 19, 2014, and ProQuest has been providing free access to several of their popular databases. I still have access to ProQuest through my former graduate program’s website, but I found ProQuest’s own tools to be much more successful.

In particular, ProQuest’s obituary database, which includes more than 10.5 million obituaries and death notices, has helped me quickly find information about my relatives without searching through thousands of pages on microfilm. The search facility seems to be much better than what I’ve previously used, as the results for similar searchers were much more plentiful and relevant through ProQuest’s own interface.

Herbert Landes Obituary [New York Times]
Herbert Landes Obituary [New York Times]

Most notably, I found obituaries for my grandfather, Herbert Landes, and great grandfather, Joseph Landes. Although these notices appeared in the easily-searchable New York Times, I hadn’t come across them until now.

Note that the New York Times obituary for Joseph Landes includes yet another, different, mistake regarding the name of the landsmanschaft with which he was involved. The Practical Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review of Reviews called the organization “First Berauer, K. N. V.” in its announcement of Joseph’s death; the New York Times gets farther from accuracy with “First Berzuer K. N. V.” The organization should be listed as “First Bacauer K.N.V.” I imagine type typesetters and typists were not very familiar with these organizations.

In order to access the free ProQuest obituaries database, visit ProQuest’s National Library Week feature, scroll to the bottom, and activate the link says, “Access ProQuest Obituaries.”

These newspapers are included in the free search:

  • Atlanta Constitution (1868-1922)
  • Boston Globe (1872-1922)
  • Chicago Defender (1921-1975)
  • Chicago Tribune (1852-1984)
  • Los Angeles Times (1881-1984)
  • New York Times (1851-1994)
  • Washington Post (1877-1950)
Joseph Landes Obituary [New York Times]
Joseph Landes Obituary [New York Times]

If you try to visit this link directly, without viewing the National Library Week page first, you will be required to log-in using your ProQuest access credentials. The only way to view the database for free this week is through the National Library Week page.

So far, I have found more than 25 death notices and obituaries using this free database, many of which I wasn’t able to find using my regular ProQuest account. The obituaries that I’ve found for potential relatives have been helpful in identifying more of their family members, and might someday be helpful in connecting the dots between my confirmed relatives and others who I suspect are closely related.






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