Alabama, Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Access the records: Alabama, Deaths 1908-1974 .

Contents

Record Description

This Collection consists of an index to death certificates from the state of Alabama for the years 1908 to 1974.

Deaths were recorded to better serve public health needs. They were also used in connection with the probate of wills and the administration of estates. The information pertaining to death is reliable; including cause of death, name of the attending physician or medical professional, name and address of the funeral home used, and the exact date and place of burial. Other information is dependent upon the reliability of the informant.

The trend of keeping state-wide death records throughout the United States expanded in the early 20th century after Congress passed a resolution in 1901 asking each state to gather information about births and deaths on a statewide basis. Because Congress did not fund it, it took several more years before it happened in every state. Death certificates were usually filled out by a mortician or medical professional. They filled in the information concerning the death and then obtained personal information on the deceased from an informant, usually a relative. Then, they sent the information to the county, who sent a copy to the state.

The state of Alabama has recorded deaths from 1 January 1908. Be aware that although recording of deaths was mandatory, the state did not achieve 90 percent compliance of death registration until 1925.

Record Content

The certificates generally include the following:

  • Dates of death and burial
  • Frequently, birth date of the deceased
  • City, county, and state of death
  • Name and location of the cemetery where buried
  • Frequently, the country or state and sometimes the town and county of birth for the deceased
  • Frequently, the country or state and sometimes the town and county of birth for the parents
  • Name of the deceased
  • Married name of spouse
  • Names of parents, often with maiden surname of the mother
  • Name of the informant, who is often a child or other family member
  • Age of the deceased usually in years, months, and days
  • Sex of the deceased
  • Residence or address of the deceased, often including length of residence at that place or in the United States, if foreign-born
  • Whether the deceased was single, married, widowed, or divorced at the time of death
  • Occupation of the deceased

The index generally includes any of the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Death date and place
  • Last residence
  • Burial date and place
  • Birth date and place
  • Names of parents
  • Name of spouse

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The place where the death occurred
  • The name of the person at the time of death
  • The approximate death date

Search the Collection

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s death record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find or verify their birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents (if the deceased is a child) to locate church and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment records or military records.
  • The name of the informant may be a relative. This can be helpful in identifying your ancestor.
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
  • The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records which often include the names and residences of other family members.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the deceased who may have died or been buried in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.


For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Related Websites

Alabama Department of Public Health. Where to write for Alabama death certificates.

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citations for this Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"Alabama, Deaths, 1908-1974." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Department of Health, Montgomery, Alabama.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Alabama, Deaths 1908-1974.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 9 October 2014, at 20:56.
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