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How to obtain a death certificate

A death certificate can be a valuable source of historical and genealogical information.  The content a death certificate includes will vary from state to state but generally include the following information:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Date and place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Funeral home / undertaker name
  • Place of burial (cemetery name and location)
  • Marital status and name of spouse if any
  • Names of parents

The means of obtaining a death certificate and the years that are available will vary widely from state to state.  By 1910 to 1915, most states had began a uniform policy of creating an official state death certificate.  Before this time, most states did not issue official death certificates.  For the years before this time, death certificates were sometimes issued by the local counties and cities.

If ordering a copy of a death certificate, patience will be needed.  You are dealing with a state agency and it is not unusual that it will take 30 days or more for a death certificate to arrive.  There is a fee to purchase a copy of a death certificate.  Most states will charge the same fee for a search, even if the death certificate is not found.  Most of the links below will also provide information for obtaining a copy of a birth certificate.  In most states, marriage records are generally kept by the county rather than the state.

Keep in mind that a death certificate is issued where the person died which may not be where they normally lived.  A person who died while visiting Illinois will have an Illinois death certificate even though they normally lived in Missouri.  Missouri would normally have no record of the death.

To find the years available and the procedure for obtaining a copy, visit the individual state website by clicking on the links below:

Arkansas Death Certificates

Illinois Death Certificates

Indiana Death Certificates

Iowa Death Certificates

Kansas Death Certificates

Kentucky Death Certificates

Louisiana Death Certificates

Missouri Death Certificates

Ohio Death Certificates (also: Ohio Death Certificates )

Tennessee Death Certificates

Texas Death Certificates

Bookmark this page, additional states will be added in the future.


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