West Virginia Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999 .

Contents

Record Description

The collection consists of name indexes of West Virginia statewide and county death records. The statewide death index covers years 1917-1956 and includes all 55 West Virginia counties. The county deaths index covers years 1853-1970. Data is searchable for all state and county records. However, records within each county may not be available for the full year range.

The index is linked to death entry images available online at West Virginia Culture.

Record Content

County death records usually contain some or all of the following facts:

  • Name of deceased
  • Gender and age of deceased in years, months and days
  • Death date and place
  • Cause of death
  • Color or race
  • Marital status
  • Birthplace of deceased
  • Parents’ names of deceased
  • Birthplace of parents
  • Occupation of deceased
  • Name of informant (sometimes, includes relationship to deceased)

How to Use the Records

To use these records it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the person at the time of death
  • Other identifying information such as the approximate death date or the place where the death occurred

Search the Collection

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible ancestors. Compare the information in the list to what you already know about your ancestor to determine which person listed is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination. Next, click on your ancestor's name. This will take you to a descriptive page with a link to the partner site with the images.

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 names along with the place 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 or military records.
  • 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.
  • If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, check for variant spellings of the surnames. Keep in mind:
  • The information in these records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

General Information About These Records

Death entries were recorded in pre-printed register books containing many entries per page beginning in 1853. Earlier records were handwritten. They were usually typewritten by 1930. After 1917, death records were submitted to the state on individual certificates, while registers were maintained in the counties.

Clerks of each County Court recorded deaths beginning in 1853, when West Virginia was part of Virginia. West Virginia began collecting deaths from the counties in 1917. Most deaths in the counties were recorded because of the legal requirement for registration.

The state required counties to begin recording deaths to track public health issues. The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the death occurred are quite reliable, though there is the chance of misinformation. Other data, such as date and place of birth, have more chance of error due to the lack of knowledge of the informant, transcription errors, and other circumstances.

The State of West Virginia has death certificates for 1917 through 1973 in the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston, West Virginia. The original county records are generally located in the courthouse for each county.

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

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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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:

"West Virginia, Deaths, 1853-1970." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. County courthouses, West Virginia.

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 West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999.


 

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  • This page was last modified on 12 December 2014, at 14:13.
  • This page has been accessed 17,297 times.