Mankato Free Press Obituary Index

The Obituary Index includes information about obituaries from the Mankato Free Press and its predecessor newspapers from 1869-1879, 1888-1954, 1970-1994, 2009-present. 

This index is not complete. There are some gaps in the indexing. If you do not find a name of  a Mankato area resident that you expect to find it is still possible an obituary was published in the newspaper. You can use the Minnesota People Records Search through the Minnesota Historical Society to get an approximate date for when the obituary should appear in the newspaper.

We can research and make copies of obituaries for you for $15 per obituary.  Please fill out the Obituary Index Request form and mail/email it to us to get your order started!  Payment is available by check or credit card.


Phone: 507-389-1029

Editors published the Mankato Free Press under a number of different names since 1869. 

Publication Titles Years Newspapers Published
Free Press 1973-present
Mankato Free Press 1931-1973
Mankato Daily Free Press 1887-1931
Review 1878-1919
Mankato Weekly Review 1869-1878

The University Archives can provide copies of obituaries found in the Mankato Free Press Obituary Index for a fee of $15 each.

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You can use the obituary index to record the date of the newspaper with the obituary you are looking for and print off a copy yourself.

Minnesota State Mankato Memorial Library has microfilm of the Free Press going back to 1878 on the 1st floor 

The Minnesota Historical Society has the Mankato Free Press available in the library. 

The Blue Earth County Historical Society also has the Free Press available in the research center.

If you do not find a name of a Mankato area resident that you expect to find, it is still possible an obituary was published in the newspaper. 

If you have the date of death the MSU Archives will look for un-indexed obituaries in the Mankato newspaper for a fee. The cost is $25 and includes: research time, printing a copy of the obituary from microfilm and mailing it to you if found. A date of death is required for this search. This fee is charged prior to the search and is not refunded if no obituary is found. 

The Blue Earth County Historical Society also maintains an obituary index of Mankato newspapers. Their index covers 1857-present, with some gaps in the 1940s-1960s. They will also look up obituaries for a small fee.

The indexing of the Mankato Free Press began at Minnesota State University, Mankato in the 1980s under the direction of Marilyn J. Lass. 

Student assistants in the Southern Minnesota Historical Center (SMHC) looked through the microfilm of the Mankato newspaper and copied citations onto 3x5 index cards any time an obituary, death announcement, funeral announcement, or article about the death of an individual was located. Obituaries vary in length, style, and content.

Obituary Dates Found in Index

The indexing for this project began with obituaries from 1970. Several retrospective projects were done and obituaries from earlier years were included. Currently the database includes obituaries from the following years.

  • 1869 (May 25) - 1879 (December 30) - Mankato Weekly Review
  • Missing issues: May 27, 1873, November 4, 1873, July 14-21, 1874, August 11, 1874, and November 10, 1874.
  • 1880-1887 - Limited indexing (very few obituaries are indexed)
  • 1888 (March 15) - 1944 (June 30) - Mankato Daily Free Press and Mankato Free Press
  • 1945-1969 - Limited indexing (very few obituaries are indexed) - Mankato Free Press
  • 1970-1994 - Mankato Free Press and Free Press
  • June, 2009-Current - Free Press

Geographic Limitations

The scope of the index is the service area of the Southern Minnesota Historical Center. Accordingly, the obituaries of individuals from the following counties are indexed: Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Freeborn, LeSueur, Martin, Nicollet, Rice, Sibley, Steele, Waseca, Watonwan. This means that news articles that discuss the death of a famous individual or deaths from other parts of Minnesota are not included in this database. The only exception to indexing outside of these geographic limitations is if a long-standing resident or pioneer of a community dies outside the area and the obituary appears in the Mankato newspaper. 

Birth/Death Dates in the Obituary Index

Often the date of birth was not given in an obituary; instead the individual's age may be given in years and occasionally in terms of years, months, and days. In these instances the birth date was calculated for the listing by subtraction. If the exact date could not be determined, at least a year of birth is included. 

Frequently the date of death is simply stated as "died yesterday" or "died last Monday." In these cases the date of death was determined by using the Perpetual Calendar. Sometimes the date of death is given as "died 14th inst." "Inst." Stands for "Instant" and means the date is in the current month. The date may otherwise be given as "died 20th ult." "Ult." Stands for "Ultimo" and means the date is from the previous month. 

Online Obituary Index

In 2004 student assistants in the SMHC began entering the data from the index cards into a Microsoft Access database. The data entry was completed in 2009. New content (1970-1986) was entered directly into the database from 2006-2008. The Library Systems area dedicated Graduate Assistant time to the creation of the searchable online database.


Many Library staff and students were involved in the creation and maintenance of the index.

Project Contributors (2004-2009)

Project Managers
Daardi Sizemore, C.A., Archives and Special Collections Librarian
Anne Stenzel, Archives Technician

Online Database Development
Peg Lawrence, Systems Librarian
Dawn Clyne, Information Technology Specialist
Bimala Koju, Systems Graduate Assistant

Lance Leipold, Librarian (emeriti)

Data Entry
Sally Boman, Student Assistant
Amanda Marks, Student Assistant
Emily Battcher, Student Assistant
Brittney Andringa, Student Assistant
Kevin Hegvedt, Student Assistant
Chelsea Hill, Student Assistant
Elena Shufelt, Student Assistant
Derek Barlage, Student Assistant
Andrew Cole, Student Assistant
Megan Eisenbraun, Student Assistant
Ginelle Meissner, Student Assistant
Robertlyn Boyce, Student Assistant
Stephanie Honsey, Student Assistant
Song Yang, Student Assistant
Anna Melzer, Student Assistant
Brittany Hagert, Student Assistant
Jessica Tix, Student Assistant
Jeff Brand, Student Assistant
Katie Knips, Student Assistant


Many additional student workers, graduate assistants, and librarians worked on this project when it was originally created. Two major contributors were Marilyn J. Lass, Librarian and Debbie Anderson, Graduate Assistant.