Even More Places to Search for Death Records

By Sherry Stevens, professional genealogist

Lesser-known sources may be the key to unlocking the death record of your ancestor.

Lately we’ve been discussing the many ways to find death information. When you’ve tried the more obvious records such as death certificates, obituaries, the Social Security Death Index, and the records listed in my other articles, these lesser-known sources might help you unearth that death record you seek:

Church records
Your ancestor was probably a member of a local church, so his or her church records may include the death date. If the funeral took place at the church, you might even find the funeral records, burial location, and other valuable information in the church’s records. To find possible churches, type your ancestor’s address into Google Maps, click on Search Nearby and type in “churches”.

Family SourcesWe’re often told to check with older or extended family members regarding family records in their possession, and that is good advice. But it’s important to go beyond just asking the “family genealogist”. Your great aunt may have some old photos with dates on the back, while your grandfather might have your ancestor’s diary. Ask as many family members as you can. The records in the top of their old closet might include family Bibles, interview transcriptions, letters, journals, insurance papers, and other priceless articles.

Census Mortality Schedules– Mortality schedules are lists of those who died in the 12- month period before the U.S. censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. These schedules list the deceased’s name, sex, age, race, marital status, birthplace, month of death, occupation, and cause of death. The 1870 schedules also include the parent’s birthplaces. Free transcriptions of the census mortality schedules are available at http://www.mortalityschedules.com/, and they are also free on Ancestry.com by clicking on the link in the mortalityschedules.com website.

Journals, Genealogies and Histories
Consider the extended family members, friends, neighbors, and church leaders who lived in the same vicinity as your ancestor. They may have written details about your ancestor’s death or funeral in their journal. Or someone may have compiled a genealogy or written a history book containing the very person you seek. These types of records are usually found at libraries, so check the public libraries in the area, and also the libraries of local universities and colleges. In the library catalog, these records are usually listed under the name of the city or county. Also check with local historical societies. You can often find these organizations on the Internet by entering the name of the city, county, or state, followed by “historical society”, “archive”, or “library”.

Until next time, best of luck in your searching!


P.S. For expert help with your genealogical research, contact me at http://www.mygenpro.com/.