Delaware, Death Records (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: Delware State Death Records .
Collection Time Period
Statewide death registration officially began in 1913, although some deaths were recorded as early as 1855. This collection contains records from 1855 to 1955.
Death records were generally well preserved, though fires, floods, or other disasters may have destroyed some records.
Death records include certificates, returns, physicians’ certificates and coroner’s returns. Death returns were turned into the State by county clerks prior to creation of death certificates. All documents were recorded on pre-printed forms.
- Date of death
- Place of death
- Sex and race
- Maiden name of mother
- Where born
- Name of father
- Marital status
- Cause of death
- Parent’s birthplaces
- Place of residence
- Place of burial
Delaware death certificates may also include:
- Name of undertaker
- Date of burial
- More place of death information, (name of village, hundred, etc.)
How to Use the Records
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.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestor in the death records. 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. 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.
- Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- 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.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- 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.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records)
By 1913, it is estimated that most deaths were reported to the State.
On July 1, 1913, the state of Delaware established a law requiring the registration of births, deaths, and marriages and created the Bureau of Vital Statistics as an agency of the State Board of Health. Death records have been submitted to the Delaware Bureau of Vital Statistics since 1913. The city of Wilmington also has a register of vital statistics.
The Delaware Public Archives has death certificates created since 1913 up to 1967. The Archives also hosts files of early death records that were compiled from sources including tombstones, newspapers and family Bibles. The Public Archives also has records of some deaths that have not been indexed.
Why This Record Was Created
Birth and deaths were recorded to better serve public health needs.
Death records are considered to be primary source records. Information in these records is usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant. For example, a coroner would be able to give reliable information about the date, time and cause of death, but might not know personal details about the deceased.
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Sources of Information for This Collection:
Delaware. Death Records, 1855-1955, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/); from Delaware Bureau of Vital Statistics, Dover. FHL microfilm, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also 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: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection:
"Delaware Death Records, 1855-1955." index, (https://www.familysearch.org): accessed March 4, 2011, entry for Atkin Linwood Kesler, died 22 March 1919; citing Death Records, FHL microfilm 4,252,920; Delaware Bureau of Vital Statistics, Dover, Delaware.
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