Introducing Ryerson Index

Some great websites are free can help you find out about the history of your family. The Ryerson Index is one of the sites. While the newspaper can be helpful, not every newspaper can be found online. This Index contains information from the 20th and 21st centuries and can locate information. This will allow a person to have access to civil registration records.

This Index is a nonprofit, and they welcome donations and volunteers to help. There are over six million entries that can be accessed, and they are free to use.

About the Ryerson Index

The Ryerson Index is the leading index for death notifications and has information on funerals and probates too. The index dates back to 1803 to the present time. Volunteers search the newspapers daily to update this information.

The Ryerson Index began in 1998 and began to cover all different times based on information that was available as a public record. The Index was named after Joyce Ryerson, who was a contributor that died at age 95.


The newspapers from the national and local levels are reviewed and updated. This includes some newspapers that are no longer being published.

When this information is updated, the names of the newspaper, any titles, and the date are recorded to make them easy to search.

The index is updated by the volunteers, and the coverage is based on where they live and the amount of time they have to contribute to a project.

How to Search

There are three main search fields, and you need to enter information in at least one of these fields.

  • Surnames
  • Any given names
  • Location

This can be helpful if you do not know a woman’s maiden name, someone has a unique name, or if you are looking to find people by location. For example, my family lived in a small town, but many left the town for work. They are still mentioned in their original town when they passed. Some of the information in the paper may say where they have moved to.

The surname has a sounds like feature. Some other fields can be helpful if filled in. They include

  • The year
  • State
  • Newspaper
  • Any updated information

This can help narrow down the results which are good in large cities. Some information found in the results will include:

  • The surname
  • Any given names
  • Death or funeral notice
  • Date of the death or funeral
  • Type- cremation, funeral, any services held
  • Age may not always be provided
  • Other information such as where they died may not be provided
  • Publication- the name of the newspaper this information was found in

Date Published

This index does not have access to the newspaper before 1954, and more research is being done. Copies of the current newspaper can often be found in the local library. There may be e-resources in the library too that will contain additional information.

The Ryerson Index is a great source, and it is free to use. This is best if you are looking for information from the past few decades. It can be used with other online sources. The index is being updated regularly, so check back soon. Good luck with your search.

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