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An obituary is the written announcement of a person's death. These are also commonly referred to as "obits" or death notices and submitted to newspapers, usually by the attending mortuary. An obituary usually provides a brief account of a person's life including their family members, interests, achievements and burial arrangements. The information contained within obituary records is considered highly valuable for research purposes among genealogists.
Obituaries are most commonly distributed by newspapers. They are written by family and friends and then submitted to a newspaper's advertising department to be published as "death ads" for a fee. Many public libraries maintain indexes, searchable by name and death date, which provide the newspaper name and page number where a specific person's death notice can be found.
An obituary is not considered a public record, meaning that newspapers are not required, by any state or federal law, to publish an individual's death notice. Submitting a death notice to a newspaper or database is considered a voluntary act on behalf of those close to the deceased. Since these records are not kept or distributed by a central organization, the best place to begin obituary research is thorough independent newspaper archives and databases.
Back in the year 2000, the Continental Computer Corporation first opened the National Obituary Archive (NOA). Already the developer and manufacturer of the top selling software for funerals and funeral home management, this online tool was a natural next step in the evolution of the company's offerings.
Globally positioned within the top five hundred software corporations, the Continental Computer Corporation already had a strong spot within the marketplace that could only be made more secure by this unique resource. This online instrument was initially known as Arrangeonline.com, but was later changed to the NOA and was geared toward growing industry relations and searchable references.
Within a short period of time, the database had already been assembled and comprised the world's largest death record and obituary collection, fast becoming the heart of any personal or business query when looking for information regarding the lives or passing of individuals.
The headquarters of the resource is located in Jonesboro, Arkansas with the rest of the Continental Computer Corporation. The National Obituary Archive functions as its own branch of that company, which already has several divisions dedicated to its broad range of death-care industry products in addition to its software offerings for municipal utilities and other markets. Private investors contributed almost sixteen million dollars in order to make possible the development and the launch of the NOA and the growth to the business that was required in order to make it happen.
The NOA currently contains over fifty five million individual death record entries, each indexed and searchable by visitors. People using the database may employ the tool freely in order to gain more information relating to friends, family, and other decedents whose data may be useful for learning invaluable genealogical information, piecing together family trees, or even exploring personal or familial ties.
By January of 2002, Continental underwent a significant overhaul to the site in order to better cater to the needs of the millions of website visitors who were using its features on an annual basis. Funeral directors and individuals unrelated to the industry had come to rely upon the NOA and used it regularly for both obtaining and submitting information relating to obituaries.