Thursday, November 18, 2010

Legacy's ObitMessenger Service now *Free*

I just received an email from  (The date in the first paragraph says 11/16, but I received the email today, 11/18)
Dear ObitMessenger Subscriber,

We are very pleased to announce that on 11/16/2010 we will launch an upgraded version of our ObitMessengerTM service. One of the biggest changes: ObitMessengerTM will be free with no sign-up or annual fees. Here are some of the other exciting upgrades:

* Select up to five keywords and we'll search both the deceased's name and the obituary text.
* Search as many or as few newspapers as you like, and update your newspaper list at any time.
* To streamline your results e-mail, we will now include four lines of text per obituary with a link to access the full obituary.
* You will now be able to choose a secret question for account security. As a current subscriber, your secret question will default to your mother's maiden name. You will have the option to leave as-is or select a new question.

Your current account information (including login, password, keywords and newspapers) will be carried over to the upgraded ObitMessengerTM service. In other words, no action is necessary on your part.

You can visit your account here.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Thank you,
Legacy handles the obituaries for hundreds of newspapers across the US and Canada, so this is a great way to retrieve obituaries mentioning a particular surname regardless of what newspaper they happen to appear in.

Previously, you could search for five surnames in every newspaper they managed, but it would only find an obituary if it was the surname of the deceased -- not if the surname appeared in the text as a relative, etc.  And this cost $40/year.

You could also search for five keywords/phrases in one newspaper.  It wouldn't matter where the words appeared in the text of the obituary.  This cost $15/year.  (And they prohibited words such as "funeral" or "flowers" preventing it from being used as a means to get every obituary from a single newspaper emailed to you.)

The local newspaper stopped updating their RSS feed about a year ago, and I'm not pleased with the online interface, so I've been fiddling around with the $15/year option for a little over a month trying to find the perfect combination of keywords to get the most local obituaries sent to me via email.  I was more than happy to pay the $15 if I was comfortable I was receiving most of the obituaries that were important to me. The maximum I've achieved is somewhere between 25-40% of the total, depending upon the day. I was satisified with the results.  (I was using the names of three funeral homes, the word 'mortuary', and the word fragment 'cremat'.)

Since each 'account' is tied to an email address only, I have several email addresses, and the Terms of Service don't appear to prohibit setting up multiple accounts, it shouldn't be difficult to now set up a few different accounts with the names of all the major funeral homes in the area, and in this fashion get close to all of the obituaries emailed to me.

I've also set up an account that searches for five of my more uncommon surnames across their network. 

My only complaint?

I paid $15 a little over a month ago for a full year account.  And now it's free.

One other note: I do not use my mother's maiden name as a security passcode anywhere.  I maintain a genealogy blog where anyone who wanted to could look it up. I'm not silly.

UPDATE : The emails now contain adverts for flowers and genealogy services.  I see nothing wrong with this.  I am more than happy to see these daily adverts in place of an annual fee.

Update 2: Legacy added a comment, and as they state, and I hadn't noticed, it is possible to create multiple searches on one email address, so multiple email addresses are no longer necessary. 


Katie Falzone said...

Thank you for your feedback on this week's ObitMessenger upgrades. I am glad to know that the new version is working well for you.

We would be happy to offer a refund for the annual fee you paid last month. Please contact as at and we'll take care of it right away.

Also, I wanted to mention that with the upgrade, you can now create as many alerts as you like with the same user account. There is no need to create multiple user accounts (though you are welcome to do so if you like).

If there's anything more we can do to assist, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Best of luck in your genealogical research!

-Katie Falzone, Director of Operations,

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