What is a necrology and and how does it differ from an obituary?

Although the term sounds a bit macabre, a necrology is simply a list of persons who have died within a certain time, and may contain information similar to an obituary, but is sometimes more like a biographical sketch. Necrologies are often published by membership organizations or institutions (churches, colleges, etc.) identifying members who died within a particular year or date range. At a minimum, necrologies will contain the date and place of death, and in some cases considerably more. Necrologies may also contain a historical background of the organization, which can help researchers understand more about their ancestors' lives.

An excellent example of a necrology is A necrology of the physicians of Lowell [Mass.] and vicinity, 1826-1898. The publication's Table of Contents which lists the individual names of those featured, some with detailed biographical sketches extending over several pages. Another example is the JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database, an index to the necrologies of Holocaust victims published as part of the JewishGen Yizkor Book Translation Project. A list of available necrologies can also be found in the Genealogy Today Subscription Data, Obituaries Category.

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