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Collecting Death Certificates for Your Genealogical Family Tree Book

Updated on March 4, 2017

Genealogy – Collecting Death Certificates for your Family Tree Book

Birth, death and marriage certificates are wonderful personal documents you can add to your collection of family tree information. For this article, I’ll focus on death certificates.

To obtain official, legal documents contact the Department of Public Health. Each state holds their own records, so you will be contacting the state in which the decedent passed. Counties also have a Vital Records office to obtain certificates from, and some counties actually offer records for their entire state, depending on state laws. If you’re not sure what county or state a particular relative passed in, you can often times find their place of death by doing an online search; using Google or your search engine of choice, type in the word “obituary” along with their name. Newspaper obits and funeral home write ups remain online for years to come and also are filled with other relative’s names of family members, providing you information to grow your family tree research.

The process of ordering a death certificate is fairly simple. You can usually go online and pay with a credit card, provide the pertinent information on your relative, along with your mailing information, and the certificate arrives in the mail usually within a week or two. Be sure you are on the government official website when ordering, and not an independent company site. The cost should only be around $15.00 to $25.00 with a few dollars mailing and handling fee. You can also order by mail with forms provided on a county or state’s public health website, or order in person if you live close enough to one of their offices. There can be restrictions on ordering. Rules and requirements vary by state.

Death records will usually show the name of the decedent’s parents including the mother’s married name and this is very valuable for going back another generation in your research. Depending on the state and the year, you will find a variety of information that could include the cause of death, where the death occurred, birthdate of the decedent, marital status, occupation and where they lived.

These documents make your book meaningful and are a rich record of your family’s history. The future generations of your family will appreciate your labor and the preservation of your family’s history. Imagine if one of your relatives had created such a book 100 years ago and passed it down to you!

Happy collecting!

Death Certificate
Death Certificate | Source

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