It is usually easier to find a death record than it is a birth or marriage record. The reason for this is that a person’s death will be the most recent record about them. To find a death record you need to know in which state the person died. It does not necessarily matter where the person’s burial took place. When you find the death record the burial location may be included.
When you locate a death record it is usual that it will contain other important information such as details of their birth, the name of their spouse and information about their parents. If you are trying to find out more about a family member then the death record is a good place to start because they might not have a birth record or marriage record.
If you are going back a long way in time then you will probably not find a lot of information on a death record. Early records kept in cemeteries usually only provide basic information such as the person’s name, their death date and where they died.
Modern Death Records
Death records created in more modern times are likely to include more details. Here are some of the details that you can expect to find in a death record created in the twentieth century:
- The age of the person when they died
- What caused the person to die
- Their date of birth
- Place of birth
- The date of the burial
- Location of the burial
- Information about severe illnesses
- Precise time of death
- How long a person lived in the area or even the country
- The marital status of the deceased
- A dead woman’s maiden name
- The name of a spouse still living
- Address details of people close to the deceased
- Details of the deceased’s parents
- The occupation details of the deceased
- Where the deceased lived
- Their religion
Usually a death record is the least private record about a person and it should be relatively straight forward to access them. You need to check this however because some states may restrict access to members of the deceased family only.
When a person dies there will be a death certificate issued. The details entered on the death certificate will come from someone that knew the deceased well such as a family member. This person is an informant.
A death record is usually created in the state where the death took place. If the burial of the person takes place in another state then they may create a record as well. Apart from known information such as the date and time of the death and where it occurred the information in a death certificate is only as accurate as the informant can provide.
History of Death Records in the United States
The states that make up New England started to record records of deaths a long time ago. This was before it was mandatory for them to do so. You will find these records organized on a town by town basis.
In the 1860’s some states took the initiative and started to create and keep death records. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the rest of the country started to follow. From 1900 to 1930 states started to introduce death records in different years. Finding out when the state you are looking at introduced death records will greatly help with your search.
Where can you look for Death Records?
These days there are a lot of websites that can help you to find death records. Some of these are free and some will charge a small amount. It is not always easy to find the records that you are looking for on free websites. The organization of the files is not always the best and it can take a lot of time and effort to find anything.
You would be better off using a quality online background check service for your death records searches. The best services have access to databases all over the country that keep death records. It is often the easiest and fastest way to find the information you need.
There is always Google and the other search engines which may reveal details of a person’s death. You cannot count on this of course but it isn’t a bad place to start. Don’t overlook other places such as Google Books when you are looking for death records.
Most states provide access to death records and they may have a website for you to use. Again this can be a thankless task because often the records are not where you think they would be.
In the real world you can search for death records in local churches. If the death of the person was before 1900 then this can literally be your only chance of finding anything. Some city and council offices will have civil registrations which may yield results.
A local newspaper will often keep archives that you can look through to try and find information about a person’s death. Libraries may have this information as well. Some newspapers have obituary columns where you can find out the details of a local person’s death.
You can try visiting cemeteries in the area where a person died. Some of these will have records and often it can be as simple as inspecting the tombstone of the deceased for more information.
Why should you search for Death Records?
A death record can provide a lot of useful information that is useful for further research. For example you may learn the full names of the parents of the deceased and you can use this find out more about them.
Many people are interested in finding out more about their ancestors and death records can really be helpful in steering them in the right direction. For the easiest and quickest death records searches use a reputable online background checking service.