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Obituary information

What if I do not know the exact date of death?

If you do not know the exact date of death, consider these suggestions:

  1. Social Security Death Index (1935- three years ago) – provides a birth and death date for those whose deaths were registered with the Social Security Administration.  The database is most complete from the mid-1960s to the present.  If the death was not reported to the Social Security Administration, the individual will not be listed in the index. Available in Ancestry Library Edition and for free on

  2. Find a Grave – A free online website that includes millions of transcribed gravestones from all over the world.

  3. Fulton History – A massive website including scanned images for numerous New York State newspapers including some from the Buffalo area. 

  4. Index to Deaths in Buffalo, New York, 1852-1944 – Available for free at Reclaim the Records on the Internet Archive.

  5. – Includes a death notice index for many newspapers across the country including Buffalo.  Buffalo’s is from 1997-present.  Be sure to choose Buffalo for the location and All for the search timeframe.  

  6. New York State Genealogical Research Death Index – A searchable index from 1957 to 50 years ago.  This database is also available in Ancestry Library Edition.

  7. New York State Historic Newspapers – This free website contains many full-text newspapers including some for the Buffalo area. 

  8. New York, Death Index, 1880-1956 – provides a death date, location, state certificate number, and sometimes gender, cause of death, and age.  Note: The City of Buffalo is not included in this index until 1914. Available in Ancestry Library Edition and online for free at Reclaim the Records on the Internet Archive.

  9. - Indexes to select deaths from the Buffalo, NY area 1871 - 2021. 

Other death resources that may be helpful:

Deaths from Buffalo City Directories – A listing of Buffalo deaths from 1882-1892.

FamilySearch Church Records – Search the FamilySearch Catalog by place (Buffalo) to find a list of Buffalo church records.  Select individual church records in the results list to see if burial or funeral records are available online.  You will need to make a free online account to view any online records.

Forest Lawn Cemetery – If your ancestor was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Buffalo), St. Matthew's (West Seneca), Lakeside (Hamburg), Williamsville Cemetery (Williamsville), or were cremated at Buffalo Cremation, you may find their death dates here. 

New York Probate Records – Probate records include wills and estate files.  Estate files usually list the date of death.  Don’t assume that because your ancestor wasn’t wealthy or was an immigrant that s/he didn’t have an estate file.  The records included for Erie County are browsable.  A browsable index for Erie County is available at the following link as well as most estate files that date to about the year 1900. 

New York State Deaths and Burials – This is a name index to select death and burial records from the state of New York.  Much of the content comes from church records. 

Vital Records Found in Buffalo Publications – An abstract of Buffalo area births, deaths, and marriages from select local publications.  Most content is deaths.

For more ideas:

See the Grosvenor Room Collection Guides