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WikiProject Death (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
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Newspapers copy[edit]

"In many cases, an obituary is one of the few times a person's name appears in a newspaper."

I cut this from the intro because IMO an obituary (as opposed to a mere death notice) is usually a biography written by the newpaper itself rather than an small ad placed by the family (i.e. a mere death notice), and so only appears for relatively well-known people who would have had their name in newspapers on at least a number of occasions. Ben Finn 12:55, 20 May 2005 (UTC).

Policy about obituaries[edit]

Q. Should Wikipedia have a policy about obituaries? Very famous people may have obituaries published by a large number of newspapers. It then becomes an arbitrary choice which one to link to in any Wikipedia article's external links section. DFH 20:43:13, 2005-08-24 (UTC)

I think it has to be on a case-by-case basis. Some online obituaries are only available for seven days; in that case, perhaps referring to a print obituary (remembering that hard copy sources are just as acceptable as online ones) would be a better choice. I also think it would be better to refer to a longer obituary than a shorter one, and (in the case of American obituaries) a signed obituary as opposed to one from a press service such as the AP, if possible. I don't say this out of any animus towards the AP, but out of concern that the AP often picks up local obituaries, abridges and condenses them, and prints them - but that abridgment and condensation can introduce error. We had one today on AfD - Johnny Mann, a player of bit parts whose original obituary from a local paper did not imply notability per Wikipedia, but whose condensed, secondary obituary from the AP did. Sometimes you have to go to the source to ensure the obituary is accurate and to ensure the person really is notable.
I say "in the case of American obituaries" because British obituaries and, to an extent, those from other countries (including even Canada) may not be signed. --Charlene 14:47, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
It is important to link to a newspaper that allows searches well into the past, such as the New York Times and not to newspapers that only allow a few days or weeks before the material goes into an archive accessible only by a fee, such as the Philadelphia Inquirer and many others. It would be helpful to have a list of newspapers that do allow searches well into the past, for those who want to improve Wikipedia articles with information from obituaries and other articles. --DThomsen8 (talk) 23:34, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
Quick question: Is there an appropriate template that should be added to an existing Wikipedia page for some time after an article about a living person dies? Happypete (talk) 11:27, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

Separate site for obituaries?[edit]

A should a separate site for obituaries of scientists be started? Arranged under subject: Obituary: Botany Macpherson, P. and Rutherford, A. 2005. Obituary Allan McGregor Stirling - 1924 - 2004. Glasgow Naturalist 24: 65 - 66.



Thinking, what do you say? 10:06, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm thinking that there are *so many* online obituary sites that already compile obituaries (alt.obituaries, the Life in Legacy Site, Rusty's EI Entertainment obituaries, etc., etc.) that Wikipedia would be doubling their efforts. Generally if the AP, UPI, Reuters, or AFP run an obituary on someone, there's a good chance that person is notable enough to already have a Wikipedia entry. If not, reviewing the obituary to see whether the person meets WP:N and then adding an article on the person with the obituary as one of the references is probably a better idea. --Charlene 14:27, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Most widely read component of newspapers[edit]

“Although little research has been done on its characteristics, its history, and its cultural variations, the obituary has been commonly noted as easily the most widely read component of modern newspapers.” -- I doubt that this is true. What about the weather forecast? -- 07:38, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Necrology disambiguation page[edit]

There should be a disambiguation page for "Necrology". One entry that redirects to obituary, and one entry that defines necrology as the study of decomposition of dead tissue.

UK changes?[edit]

The section Obituaries in the UK goes on and on about supposed "changes", but doesn't substantiate anything. Can anyone tell me in what way the content and style of the obituaries did change in that period??? – gpvos (talk) 22:18, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Removed it now. – gpvos (talk) 19:02, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
The section gpvos was complaining about can be read here [1]. Some relevant external discussion can be read in Hugo Vickers' comments [2] at end of the Independent's obituary on Hugh Massingberd, who was obituaries editor at the Daily Telegraph from 1986 to 1994.
Essentially from about 1986 UK obituaries became rather more competitive, more journalistic and rather less seemingly respectful than they had been previously. (Contrast the laudatory obits for Oswald Mosley in 1980, lampooned by Not the Nine O'Clock News [3]). Jheald (talk) 23:56, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't know how to put this in a new section - but this article could do well to document the changing nature of obituaries in the media over time, in particular the rise of the "obituary as entertainment" since the 1980s. See: The Economist's article "The Obituarist's Art" from its December 24, 1994 issue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 15 August 2015 (UTC)


This article appears to be simply compiled of personal anecdotes. The content containing thus has been commented out. The article does not require sufficient clean-up but rather an expansion, therefore the tags have been changed. What is required I suppose is that there is no History section or etymology, there is no controversy or criticism section - the article doesn't have to be long, but it shouldn't be so disconnected and incomplete. We also need an etymology section, I'm planning on adding it, but it make take some time, there's a place to start Etymology Online, Oxford Condensed dictionary ChyranandChloe (talk) 04:07, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Occasionally the author of an obituary will die before its subject. For example, [[Walter Sullivan (science writer)Walter Sullivan's obituary of the noted physicist James Van Allen was published by the AP after Van Allen's death in 2006, even though Sullivan predeceased Van Allen by almost a decade.[4]

One of the most famous examples is The Ashes. It came to being because an English paper published in an English newspaper, The Sporting Times, in 1882 after the match at The Oval in which Australia beat England on an English ground for the first time. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media then dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to regain The Ashes.

In 2006, Bill McDonald of the New York Times answered readers' questions about obituaries as part of the Times's Talk to the Newsroom feature. He confirmed that the Times had over 1,200 obituaries on file, some written as far back as 1982. He also said that the Times's policy was to always give the cause of death when available and, since the publication of a premature obituary for Katharine Sergava, to also always identify the person who advised the newspaper of the death. The hope was that attribution would reduce the chance of another embarrassing and (to the family) painful error.[5]

An online podcast network from India interviewed Ann Wroe[6], The Economist's Briefings and Obituaries Editor on the craft of Obituary writing.Click here to get to the page to download the podcast.

Removed commented out note, irrelevant to the article. Moved to discussion for convience. ChyranandChloe (talk) 18:27, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

British Medical Journal encourages doctors to write their own obituaries...[edit]

The British Medical Journal encourages doctors to write their own obituaries for publication after their death.[citation needed][clarification needed]

Required a citation. Here's one from Stephen Lock, the Obituaries Editor: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:24, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Definition of Obituary[edit]

Where I come from, the term "obituary" encompasses memorial advertisements. From Merriam-Webster: "Definition of OBITUARY: a notice of a person's death usually with a short biographical account". Can someone prove this wrong? Mcavic (talk) 07:03, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

The distinction is significant within the publishing industry, but it's probably not important to people in everyday speech. The more precise definition will help the readers figure out the difference between the sort that is written by a journalist for free and the sort that is paid for by the estate. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:43, 10 August 2012 (UTC)