How to Find West Virginia Death RecordsEdit This Page

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How to Find United States Deaths Gotoarrow.png West Virginia Deaths

In 1863, West Virginia was created from the state of Virginia. Statewide registration of deaths began in 1917 in West Virginia and was generally complied with by 1925. The counties have copies of these records.

Next Step: When did the death occur?

Death Records
Choose a time period:

Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1853

West Virginia did not exist at this time and was known as the state of Virginia. Before 1853, no deaths were recorded by the county or state. You must search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place.

  Records that give death information:
Cemetery Records
Newspapers
Probate (wills, etc)
Tax Records
Church Records
Census
Bible Records
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1853 thru 1916

  • 1853 - Virginia law required counties to record deaths, although records are incomplete
  • 1863 - West Virginia was created from the state of Virginia
  • 1917 - West Virginia Statewide death registration began

If you cannot locate your ancestor in the databases below try searching for death information in other records.

For deaths that exist during the time period, try the following databases. Try each link.

West Virginia Deaths Databases - Includes Index and Digital Images

Try 1st:


1853-1970 - At West Virginia Division of Culture and History Free; dates vary by county (some as early as 1753) and some only go to 1962; list of database county coverage (right side of the screen)on WV website
Try 2nd:


1853-1970 - At FamilySearch.org Free; dates vary by county (some as early as 1753) and some only go to 1962; list of database county coverage (right side of the screen)on WV website; click on "view partner website" to see a copy of the image
Can't find your ancestor in the online index? Tips for searching online indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1917 thru 1970

The state of West Virginia began recording deaths in January 1917.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information

For deaths that exist during this time period, try the following databases. Try each link.

West Virginia Deaths Databases - Includes Index and Digital Images
Try 1st:
1853-1970 - At West Virginia Division of Culture and History Free; dates vary by county and some only go to 1962; list of database county coverage (right side of the screen) on WV website
Try 2nd:
1853-1970 - At FamilySearch.org Free; dates vary by county and some only go to 1962; list of database county coverage (right side of the screen) on WV website; click on "view partner website" to see a copy of the image
If you can't find the death record in the above databases, try the following:
West Virginia Deaths Databases - Index Only
Ancestry Database - Choose one of the following:

1853-1973 - use Ancestry Institution at FamilySearch Centers/Libraries Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Find your local FamilySearch Center

1853-1973 - use your Ancestry subscription $, To obtain a subscription to Ancestry; Ancestry is often available for free through your local public library
Can't access Ancestry? Go to Step Two Part B listed below. You may be able to order the death record for your ancestor from the West Virginia Department of Health State Office.
Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
1937 - Present, GenealogyBank.com Free; most current version; few records before 1962; gives place where the last benefit was sent
Or try:
SSDI at FamilySearch Historical Records Free
Or try:
U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 at Ancestry.com Subscription required, can use for free at FamilySearch Centers.
Or try:
Order a 3 year search from WV Dept. of Health Office ($); Click on the death certificates tab to order a death certificate
Can't find your ancestor in the online index? Tips for searching online indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate

PART A: You know the exact date of death

If the image was not included in the index entry above, you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the following locations:

To Order Death Certificates
From County of Death From WV Dept. of Health State office
Pros Cons Pros Cons
May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state County websites can be more difficult to use Offers a search of the state index for an additional fee May be more expensive than ordering from the county

See list of restrictions for ordering death records

If you do not want to order the death record, you can search other records with death information.

PART B: You don't know the exact date of death

If you do not know the exact date or place of death:
For a fee, the West Virginia Department of Health office will do a 3 year search (click on the death certificates tab).

See list of restrictions for ordering death records


If you do not want to order the death record, you can search other records with death information.

Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths after 1970

PART A: You know the exact date of death

With an exact date (from your records), you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the following locations:

To Order Death Certificates
From County of Death From WV Dept. of Health State office
Pros Cons Pros Cons
May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state County websites can be more difficult to use Offers a search of the state index for an additional fee May be more expensive than ordering from the county

See list of restrictions for ordering death records

If you do not want to order the death record, you can search other records with death information.


PART B: You don't know the exact date of death

Try:
Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
1937 - Present, GenealogyBank.com Free; most current version; few records before 1962; gives place where the last benefit was sent
Or try:
SSDI at FamilySearch Historical Records Free
Or try:
U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 at Ancestry.com Subscription required, can use for free at FamilySearch Centers.
Or try:
Order a 3 year search from WV Dept. of Health Office ($); Click on the death certificates tab to order a death certificate
Don't want to order the death record? Search other records with death information
Return to top: Choose another death year


Restrictions for Obtaining Death Records

Restrictions for persons who died within the last 50 years:
To obtain a copy of the death certificate for those who died within the last 50 years, you must be:

  • The parent or grandparent of the person on the certificate
  • The spouse of the person on the certificate
  • The child or grandchild of the person on the certificate
  • The sibling of the person on the certificate
  • Funeral director
  • Anyone who has legal interest in the certificate
NOTE: A copy of the death record cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above until 50 years have passed from the date of the death.

If you do not want to order the death record, you can search other records with death information.

Return to top: Choose another death year


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  • This page was last modified on 23 July 2014, at 17:15.
  • This page has been accessed 6,145 times.