Obituaries are more than just announcements of someone's death. They can be a very useful source of information in historical research, for instance, or for those wanting to make a family tree. Obituary searches can be complex if the information you have about your ancestor is limited, but there is a number of resources, online and offline, that you can use to help aid in this endeavor. Colorado is an example of a state with extensive resources supporting any obituary or death notice search.
First, assuming you have details such as the name, date of death, and place of residence and death, you can simply order a copy of the person's death certificate from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. What you need to know is that for 75 years after being issued, death certificates in the state are considered private records and you would need to prove your direct family relationship with the deceased in order to obtain a copy of the record. If you don't have a direct relationship, you could ask someone who does to get a copy of the record for you. If, however, you need a death record older than 75 years, you can get a copy without any proof of relationship.
If it is specifically obituaries you are interested in, you can use various online databases as well as the resources available at libraries across the state. Any search will be easier the more information you have before you get started. Since obituaries are published in newspapers, knowing the place of residence of the person is essential, and so is the place of death, as the obituary may be carried in a newspaper in either of these locations. Limiting your search to just two places will save you a lot of time. Also important is to know the date of death, as it will limit the scope of your search. Bear in mind, though, that you will still have to sift through quite a lot of issues, unless you know the exact date of publication. Obituaries are generally published a few days to a couple of weeks after the death occurs, but in some cases the delay could be up to a month.
There are a lot of online resources you can use to find a specific obituary, from search tools in individual newspapers' obituary sections, to nationwide aggregators. One such aggregator is World Vital Records, where you can find an impressive list of death-related records, including the US Social Security Death Index, seven national censuses, biographical record collections, historical collections, an extensive collection of gravestone photos, a search engine for obituaries, and a Colorado Cemetery Index.
Of course, if you know the place where your ancestor lived and/or died, you can go straight to the local papers' online databases, if they keep one, and look for the obituary there. However, not all newspapers keep such archives, especially when it comes to very old issues. For the most part, newspaper obituary archives are useful for searches that go back just a few years. In this, you can use lists of Colorado newspapers that are available online. It's important to note that the smaller and more local the newspaper, the greater the chance that it will carry the obituary you need. Local newspapers as a rule run more local stories than big city ones, and obituaries are included in these.
For older obituaries you may do well to consider using the resources available at public libraries. Denver Public Library is one of your best bets because of its extensive resources. These include America's Obituaries and Death Notices, a database that can be used by any holder of a DPL library card, and the Ancestry Library Edition, which includes federal census images from 1790 onwards, as well as the American Genealogical Biographical Index, and immigration lists, among others. The Edition is only available on site. Another resource available for library card holders is a Biography and Genealogy Master Index.
In addition, the library's Western History and Genealogy Department offers extensive newspaper obituary information via the Colorado Obituary Project. The database includes some 50,000 obituaries from cities and towns across the state, except Denver, spanning a period from the 1970s to 1990.
Other libraries in the state also hold newspaper collections and genealogical resources, which you can use in your obituary search. The Boulder public library, for instance, has online databases of its own as well as links to the collections of the Boulder Genealogical Society. The physical collections are hosted by the Carnegie Branch Library, and include cemetery records, obituaries, and other resources.
As regards non-library online resources, there are a number of aggregators. Legacy.com has 514 obituaries from Colorado, spanning a period from 2001 to present day. GenLookups has a search engine for obituaries based on first and last name, plus a list of additional resources you can use. These include newspaper archives from 1859 to 1978, obituary archives from 1988 to the present, and a list of genealogy databases, along with newspaper lists, and Colorado military records.
Ancestor Search offers a range of resources, such as cemetery records, census records, and obituaries. Another search option is provided by Funeral.com, where you can search by name or by keyword from the obituary, and by location. The search will yield the full obituary entry. Yet another similar tool is provided by RootsWeb, which boasts a database of over 17 million obituaries. A note to bear in mind, however, is that this number includes not just US obituaries but ones from around the world.
It is a rare luck to have all the necessary details of a person and find their obituary within seconds, so patience is advisable when embarking on such a search. You will probably need to combine several sources of information before you get together all the details that will ensure the success of the endeavor. The important thing is that there are sufficient resources both online and offline to help you in this.