Death Records

Death Records will probally be one of the easiest records to find. Most states have kept death records and mortality indexes for at least 100 years and some times longer. There are several different ways to get death iinformation.

  • State Death Certificates
  • Cemetary Records
  • Funeral Home Records
  • Social Security Death Index
  • Pension Records
  • Obituaries
  • Bible Records

  • State Death Records

    Most states will have death records after 1911. Deaths that happened before this will probally be on microfilm at the State Archives. Some states have searchable death records online. You may also be able to find scattered death records online through the US GENWEB. You will probally want to contact that state vital records office to find out what years they have on file. If you do not know the exact date of death but do know the year you will want to have the archives office do a search for you, this will probally cost you a nominal fee.

    Cemetary Records

    There is currently many on going cemetary projects on the net. These sites are being produced to make cemetary transcriptions easy to find for the public. Many larger city cemetaries usually have records on file often times with obituaries from the local paper.

    Older and family-based cemetary usually have no written records on file. You may find rural cemetaries extremely difficult to find. My ggrandmother is buried on top of a mountain side in West Virginia and no one has been able to get up to the cemetary in decades because overgrown weeds have made the mountain impossible to climb. Even if you can get to the cemetary often times there are no headstones and evenb if they are they may be difficult to read or have just a name. Many years ago families were usually buried on top of each other in the same grave.

    If you have an official record from the state of death it may list the place of burial and funeral home used. This can be an excellent way of finding other family members graves since they may be buried in the same place.

  • Cyndi's List of Cemetaries online

  • Funeral Home Records

    Funeral home records can contain anything as simple as a log book entry or entire files including a person's date of birth, date of death, date of burial, papers signed by next of kin, funeral bills, etc.,. Some funeral homes may not carry records for a certain amount of years.

  • Funeral NET
  • Funeral Homes on the Net

  • Social Security Records

    Due to the Freedom of Information Act, the social security administration must release Social Security files to any one who applies to recieve a deceased persons file.

    This record can tell you:

  • Persons full name (maiden name as well)
  • Date of Birth/death
  • Place of birth
  • State card was issued
  • State death occured in
  • Parents names
  • Address when applied/Last Known address
  • Citizenship
  • Race
  • If the person was employed and lived after 1935, there is a good chance that they had a social security number. People who did not live long enough to collect social security or were self-employed/domestic servant may not have had a social security number. There are many available SSDI death indexes available to search online for free.

  • Ancestry's SSDI Search

  • Pensions Records

    Pension records can give a date of date. Military pension is especially useful. If your ancestor worked for the railroad, merchant marine or company with had pensions, it is worth checking out. These records often obtain an abundance of personal information. Check out my page on Military records for more details

  • US Railroad Retirement Board Guide for Genealogists

  • Obituaries

    If you know the general idea where someone died and the round about date of death, check out newspapers. Your local library should be able to get microfilmed newspapers on a loan basis for you to view. You may want to check out obits from where the person resided as well as their original hometown. Some family members put obits in both places. If the obit doesn't give date of birth it at least shows their age, living children, spouse and funeral home details.

  • Cyndi's List of Obit Pages

  • Bible Records/Church Records

    Many families forget about family bibles. They sometimes are not completely accurate but can be very helpful in pinpointing dates of births, marriages and deaths. If your family member was in the catholic or anglican church, you may be able to obtain records from the parish they were christened, married or where their funeral mass was held. But you must know the parish that they were a member of to obtain correct records. Other churches such as Lutheran, mormon, episcopal and some baptist may have records as well.

    Links to Death Records

  • Where to write for vital Records in the US