The death date is one of the vital things we need as we research our ancestors. We know once they have died, any other documentation will be limited on them after that date. That is why resources like death certificates and the Social Security Death Index is so vital to our research.
Where can we find our ancestor’s death date? The first place many of us see it is a death certificate we have ordered, or that is handed down through our family lines. Family bibles or journals may have the date documented as well. Funeral homes, obituaries, headstones and church records are another resource to find these death dates.
There are some online databases that lists deaths. Here are a some that I have found very helpful:
- Billion Graves
- Interment Cemetery Records
- Death Indexes
- Missouri Death Certificates
- Texas Death Records
- California Death Index-1905-1939
Here are some Obituary online resources:
There are some websites that have a subscription, but quite a few of them are free. Online websites that have death information are Ancestry, FamilySearch, Rootsweb and many of the US Gen Web county sites. Cyndi's List has a great resource of Death & Obit resources.
If you need to order a death certificate, a couple of places I have found to be good resource are Vital Rec and Vital Check. Mississippi can order a death certificate for a very low price at Cheap Mississippi Death Certificates for 1912-1943.
Many genealogists use the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) in documenting Death. The SSDI is also used to solve probate and estate cases; discover the next of kin in guardianships; civil pension, social security and veteran benefits; prove oil, gas and mineral rights, immigration as well as many other cases. Your help is needed to help Save the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) as an accessible resource for the genealogical community and others. Please visit the Records Preservation & Access Committee website for more information on how you can help. There is also a Petition we are urging all genealogists and their family/friends to sign to help us in this endeavor. More information on this can be found at The Legal Genealogist – SSDI Call to Action!.
Below are some places to look when researching your ancestor’s death:
- Vital Records
- Church Records
- Military Records
- Family Histories
- Cemetery and/or Headstones
- Funeral Cards
- Social Security Death Index
- Family Letters