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Using Death Records to Track Genealogy

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/19/2007 | Genealogy

Many today want to learn their family history. Some would like to track it back pretty far and they can but run into difficulty after a few generations. Many in living memory can only inform you of relatives a few generations ago. Unless a family writes everything down, searching for long lost relatives can be quite a chore. If you ever do go searching for your family history, something you may want to try is death records.

Families, at one time used to use their family bibles to record births and deaths. It wasnt uncommon for some of these bibles to go back centuries. With the lessening influence of religion in the house hold and with fewer and fewer families keeping records, this methods of tracking genealogy isnt as effective as it used to be. Today, all births and deaths have to be recorded by law. When someone is born there has to be a certificate of live birth issued. This is kept on file, usually in the courthouse in the district where the person was born. The same holds true when someone dies. Date, time and cause of death must be recorded and a certificate issued. This certificate is again filed and recorded.

Death certificates can be useful in tracking genealogy because everyone has one. If you know the name of the person you are looking for you can get a copy of their death certificate and learn some interesting facts about them. Death certificates can vary slightly from area to area but they all will have the date and time of death, as well as the cause. How a person died can shed some very interesting light on their lives at time. Some death certificates may also list next of kin, meaning who has been left behind. This can also provide some interesting facts about the person you are researching.

Death certificates are a good way to research, generally because they are easily accessible. Once a death certificate is filed it is a matter of public record. You can go to the location of where it is filed and obtain your own copy. There may be a small processing fee but generally it is quite simple. There may be exceptions in some areas, allowing only families to see but generally, you have access to all of the death certificates you want.

When searching you family history, a good resource is looking at death certificates. Everyone is required by law to have a death certificate issued and they are quite easy to access. The death certificate can also provide some good information about the person. Once can learn how they died, when and how. You may find some survivors and you will know who witnessed the death. This can provide some interesting pieces to the life of someone whom you have never met. Genealogy can be a challenge but you may have more resources at your fingertips than you realize.