Posts tagged death records


Death records: the search is on.


Can’t find your ancestor’s death record? It’s not necessarily a dead end.

death recordsDeath records are considered one of the vital records in researching our ancestors. Usually death records can be found from such sources as Cemetery records, Obituaries and Vital Stats (Death Registrations or Certificates). ). If we don’t find our ancestor in one of those death records, we’re often at a dead end and wonder where we can search next.

If we consider what happens when someone dies or what takes place around the death of a family member we can be assured that there is often a paper trail of different types of records that can help answer our questions. With a little creativity researchers can find alternate ways to access the information they are looking for.

For more information on death records, visit

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Tips for Finding Your Ancestor’s Death Record

Posted by Diane
Family Tree Magazine –

Sometimes locating family records can be a difficult process for many different reasons.  Diane over at Family Tree Magazine offers some tips and resources to save you time and a headache.

When my husband and I were house-hunting awhile back, we looked at a house adjoining a small pioneer cemetery nearly concealed by trees. Which I thought was cool—you could see the area’s history in the names on the worn stones. My husband said, “Quiet neighbors.”

But a few friends looked stricken and said they might have to think twice about coming over.

So it goes for many of us genealogists. We’re fascinated by cemeteries and death records; other people think that’s creepy. But in the spirit of genealogy and Halloween, here are some tips on finding your ancestors’ death records:

  • Death records are generally available after the state passed a law that counties or towns had to keep records and forward them to the state health department or vital records office. To find out when that was for your ancestor’s state, download our free US Vital Records Chart (PDF document) from here. Compliance with the law wasn’t always 100 percent, so keep that in mind.

You can get websites and contact information for state vital records offices from the Centers for Disease Control Where to Wrote for Vital Records listing.

  • Restrictions on public access to death records are generally shorter than those for birth records—depending on the state, it’s usually 25 to 50 years if you’re not immediate family. Check the state vital records office website for this information.

The town or county health department or a local genealogical society where your ancestor lived can tell you when death recording began there. Remember that these early records often aren’t complete.

  • No official death record to be found? Look to other sources, such as newspaper obituaries and death notices, cemeteries, church records, US census mortality schedules and probate records.
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