Re: Curious phrase in death notice #general

Martin Fischer

Roy Ogus asked about the use of the phrase
"Chicago, Los Angeles papers please copy" in early 20th Century death

I have also encountered such phrases in late 19th Century and early 20th
Century newspapers. In earlier times it was fairly common for American
newspapers to extend this courtesy to other newspapers for the families of
the deceased. The death may have occurred in a location away >from their
hometown or, if the death did occur in the person's hometown, he or she may
have previously lived in another town where residents would still be
interested in the person's demise.

Also, there was then, and still is, a distinction that not everyone is aware
of between a death notice and an obituary. A death notice is usually a
classified advertisement that the deceased person's survivors pay to have
published. An obituary is an article that the newspaper publishes without
charge as a public service to its readers.

The phrase "Chicago, Los Angeles papers please copy" in a New York newspaper
death notice is an open invitation to the newspapers in the other cities to
publish an obituary about that person. If the deceased was a personage of
some reknown or notoriety, the newspapers in those cities might publish a
full obituary with its own headline. However, for less well-know people iin
the 19th Century and early 20th Century, the re-publication might not appear
in the form of a full article, but rather in a compilation of short items
under a heading of "Deaths elsewhere."

So, while doing genealogical research, we need to be mindful that newspapers
far and wide may have items of interest about a person in a variety of
formats. If you look only at paid death notices in a newspaper where a
person last resided, you could be missing valuable information about that
person that might appear in a more complete and more interesting obituary
prepared by a newspaper reporter.

(One of the major online subscription services,, has a
searchable database of old newspapers that I have found useful in locating
information about a distant relative whose eccentricities in the early 20th
Century were, for a time, fodder for journalists all over the U.S.)

Martin Fischer
Oak Park, Illinois

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