How to Find Pennsylvania Death RecordsEdit This Page

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How to Find United States Deaths Gotoarrow.png Pennsylvania Deaths

Statewide registration for Pennsylvania deaths began in 1906. Prior to the state keeping death records counties kept death records beginning in 1893.

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When did the death occur?

Death Records
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Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1852

Pennsylvania did not record deaths on a state level until 1906. Prior to 1906 some attempts were made to record deaths but these were usually done on the county level and not until about 1893. To determine a date of death for an individual church and cemetery records are the primary records to search. There are also substitute records which can be searched when there is an absence of death records.

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


Deaths 1852-1854

1852-1854 - grouped by county and record type, then arranged by certificate number, these records of death were kept by the Register of Wills for each county with returns sent to the Department of State. These returns are available for 49 of the 64 counties existing at that time; however, they are not complete for each county. Digital images of the records along with a search capability are available at www.ancestry.com. Film copies of the birth records can also be found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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.

Includes Index and Digital Images
Try:
1852-1854, Pennsylvania, Deaths at Ancestry.com $, To obtain a subscription to Ancestry; Ancestry is often available through your local public library for free
1683-1994, Pennsylvania, Probate Records at FamilySearch.org
Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Find your local FamilySearch Center This is an incomplete database which includes county records as well as church records. Below are the counties included in the collection.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths 1855-1892

Prior to 1852 the state of Pennsylvania did not record statewide deaths. Search church, cemetery and probate records in the area where the individual died to determine the death date for an individual. You must search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place.

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


Deaths 1893-1905

1893-1905 - births and deaths were recorded by the Clerk of Orphans Court at each county courthouse. While the State Archives holds microfilm copies of these records for some counties for use by on-site researchers, mail inquiries should be directed to the courthouse of the county in which the birth or death occurred. These records are not complete. Microfilm copies of these records can also be found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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
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 1906-1962

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

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 1963-Present

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


Who May Request a Death Certificate?

Only certain people can request a death certificate. You must be:

  • Legal representative of decedent's estate
  • Immediate family member
  • Extended family member who indicates a direct relationship to the decedent
  • Power of Attorney (Please note that a Power of Attorney document is no longer valid upon the death of the individual)

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