Alabama, Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Alabama Deaths 1908-1974 .
This Collection will include records from 1908 to 1974.
Each death was recorded on a one-page pre-printed form.
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.
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.
Alabama has recorded deaths from 1 January 1908.
Though recording of deaths was mandatory, the state did not achieve 90 percent compliance of death registration until 1925.
Citation for This Collection
- Alabama Department of Health. Montgomery, Alabama, Alabama Statewide Deaths. Alabama Department of Health.
The following information is generally found in these records:
- 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
How to Use the Records
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors 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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to deaths make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
- The place where the death occurred
- The name of the person at the time of death
- The approximate death date
Compare the information in the death record to what you already know about your ancestor to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- 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.
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment records or military records.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- 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.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
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.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Alabama Department of Public Health. Where to write for Alabama death certificates.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.