FINDING U.S. DEATH RECORDS
©2023 Donald R. Snow - Page last updated 2023-11-13
Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page
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ABSTRACT: Vital records include birth, marriage, and death records. Certified copies of these usually cost a few dollars and may not be public, but genealogists don't usually need certified copies. However, keep in mind that they may contain more information than in other records. Other death records include death indexes, obituaries, the Social Security Death Index, cemetery and tombstone records, and more. This class will discuss how to find death records and what to do with the information. The notes
and other related information, all with active internet
links, is posted on
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
- Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( firstname.lastname@example.org
) of Provo, Utah.
- The notes with active URLs and
additional information in other notes and articles are posted at
- Tips: (1) To put an icon on your
desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just
drag the icon from in front of the address (above) in
your browser onto your desktop.
(2) To open a link, but keep your place
in these notes, hold down the Control key
while clicking the link.
- Problem for today: How to find and
use United States death records.
ABOUT DEATH RECORDS
- Death records include certified death
certificates, obituaries in newspapers,
the Social Security Death Index,
cemeteries and tombstones, church records,
and death indexes and other compiled records.
- Certified death certificates are from
state, county, or city
agencies and usually cost several dollars,
but genealogists rarely need certified
copies. However, the certified copy
may contain more information, so you may
want to check it.
- Some certified death certificates have
been scanned and are online for free, but
may be hard to find - see examples below.
- Government agencies in the U.S. began
keeping death records from about the early
1900s, so certified records are not available
before that: states started at different
times, so check the FamilySearch Research
Wiki for state information.
- There are websites with cemetery and
tombstone records, which are added
- Many church records include deaths
and burials. Newspapers
sometimes published death records, as
well as obituaries.
- More details for these and other
sources are on my website and
can be found by using the Google
search button at the top of my
WEBSITES FOR U.S. DEATH RECORDS
- FamilySearch Wiki article How To Find U.S. Deth Records -- https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/How_to_Find_United_States_Death_Records
-- The articles from here on each state are a good place to start.
- The Social Security Death Index is
helpful for U.S. deaths from about 1935 to
recent years; versions are on FamilySearch,
Ancestry, and HeritageQuest Online.
- For Utah newspapers with death records
and obituaries, see
https://digitaln ewspapers.org/ .
- For newspapers for other states see the FamilySearch
Research Wiki and also try Googling
"[California] digital newspapers" (without
- For cemeteries and tombstones try
- To find compiled and indexed death records
Googling "[California] death index" (without
- A good compilation of death records --
- Utah Death Certificates 1904-1965 -- https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1747615
- California Death Index 1940-1997 - https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2015582
- California Death Certificates 1849-1999 --
on HeritageQuestOnline that you can get to
through your public library with your library
SAVING COPIES OF RECORDS
- You can save screenshots and/or the entire
- For screenshots I use FASTSTONE CAPTURE, a
shareware program available from
- For saving entire webpages I use
EVERNOTE which has a free version as
well as commercial versions --
CREATING FILE NAMES
- Copies of records need to be named so
you can find them and know what's
- The free program EVERYTHING --
-- allows searches by words or any
characters in the file name for all files
from all folders on your computer; it
shows them in alphabetical, date,
or date created, or size order.
- Keywords (tag words) help, e.g. DEATH,
BURIAL, MARRIAGE, SCHOOL, LDS, EDUCATION,
WORK, MILITARY, FAMILY, PEDIGREE, CHILDREN,
RESIDENCE, BIOGRAPHY, etc.
- My file naming system:
- Surname at beginning, the given
names and married names, followed
by (birth and death years).
- Then date of event or document,
then keywords, where event occurred,
where the document
came from, the date you found
- Use the extension, e.g. .doc,
.txt, .pdf, .jpg, .tif, .html, etc.
- Write dates in International
Date Format YYYY-MM-DD so they
sort chronologically when
- Example: "ManwaringDiane(Snow)-(1934-2012)-2012-10-12-DEATH-CERTIFICATE-VITALRECRORD-UTAH-ProvoUtah-UtahDepartmentofHealth.pdf"
- Example: "PHOTO-2018-06-23-ManwaringDiane(Snow)(1934-2012)-DEATH-BURIAL-TOMBSTONE-EASTLAWN-CEMETERY-ProvoUtah--13h54m41s--P1070372.jpg"
- Many death records are online and
can be copied or downloaded, even
- Be sure to indicate where the record
came from and the date, since things
- Getting family information is fun
and helpful to us and our descendants.
- Post the information on FamilySearch
Family Tree so others can benefit
from your work.
- Start small and don't try to do
everything all at once; remember:
Small deeds done are better than big
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