8 Fast Facts About Death Records

By David A. Fryxell Premium

1. Massachusetts has the earliest statewide registration at 1841.


2. New Mexico and Georgia has the last statewide registration in 1919.


Image via Library of Congress.

3. Official records are located at county courthouses.

You can also find them at state archives (or libraries) and state vital-records offices.

4. Primary source details are date, place and time of death and other death-related information.


5. Secondary source details are facts about an ancestor’s life, such as birth date and place and parents’ names.


Babe and parent. Photo via Library of Congress.

6. Different web searches will gather different results

Use web search terms like death certificates genealogy or vital records genealogy to see results.

7. Try FamilySearch 

Search for the place name (typically by state) in the FamilySearch catalog, then scroll to Vital Records Indexes and/or Vital Records. Click to view listings of death records and indexes available on microfilm, in print and online at FamilySearch.

8. Try using alternate and substitute records.


Read the Genealogy Insider’s blog 9 Kinds of Ancestor Death Records You Should Look For to learn about alternate records.


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