United States Death Records and Death Certificates

United States Death Records

Death records in the United States have been a huge help to researchers. A Death record contains valuable information about an individual and their ancestor’s death. Over the last few decades, some organizations and online sources have been publishing death records, indexes and databases in the United States. Some with millions of death records throughout the country. On this website we have provided guidelines and tips for each state so that you can easily see what the best sources are to to your search on death records.

Death record is kept in the state where the person has died, not where they were born or buried. Some researchers look first for death records because there are often death records for people who have no other records.

United States Death Index

Death records database in the United States

In the US, death information and record of burial used to be kept in Church documents. The “Social Security Death Index” was created as a database to record the death of individuals nationwide. The death index does not contain a lot for the period of 1937 to 1961. More reported the death since 1962. It’s estimated that half of deceased people from 1962 to 1971 are recorded in the database. From 1972 to 2005, more than 80 percent of the passed away people are added to the index.

United States death records search

Most death database and records in the United States reveal first name, last name, address, birth date, birth location, date of death, location of death, and may give parents’ name and information as well. Check out our guidelines and tips for each state on how to search for a death record.

United States Death Certificates

How to get a death certificate in the United States

Historically, death records were kept by the local churches, along with baptism and marriage records. In 1639, in what would become the United States, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first to have the secular courts keep these records. In the United States, a standard model death certificate was developed around 1910.

The information on a death certificate is usually given by someone close to the ancestor called an informant. Death certificates may be filed in the state where an individual died and also in the state where he is buried.

Although usually vital records are public documents, certificates are not open for public inspection in most states. Anyone may request to get a copy of the certificate, but only an individual with a close relation or an authorized person may receive the death certificate.

Death Certificate by state

Choose the state from the list above to see the information regarding death certificate and death record.

United States Public Death Record

Beside Social Security Death Index (SSDI), which is a public and nationwide death records database, each state has its own set of rules to reveal a death record. Please note that SSDI does not include 100 percent of the deceased people in the US. Feel free to use our guide for each state to find the death record you need.

While we cannot provide links to every possible death record resource in the United States, we have provided you with the best, and most reliable resources. Moreover, we provided links to mainly those death record archives and databases that provide older death records from the 1950’s and earlier, which should be of more value to genealogists and family historians.