Texas, Deaths, 1977-1986 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Collection Time Period
Texas has recorded deaths from 1903 to the present, plus about 250 registrations from the 1890s-1939, and nearly 2,000 delayed registrations of death from 1890s-1990, as reported from obituaries and probate records.
For the years 1903-1909, two small pre-printed “report of death” forms are on one page. From 1911 on, each death was recorded on a one-page pre-printed “standard death certificate” form. The year 1910 has a mixture of reports of death and standard death certificates.
Death Certificates 1903-1909 are arranged by County, then Year, then Alphabetical by the first letter of the surname only. After the certificates were arranged in this manner they were numbered in a single sequence running through that arrangement (Certificates 1-61,752 in 141 volumes).
Certificates for 1910 are generally arranged by Surname and then Given Name(s). The certificates were then numbered.
Certificates beginning with 1911 were arranged first by year, then by month, then by county. The arrangement below that appears to vary: Bexar county certificates appear to be generally in reverse alphabetical order by surname, some other counties appear to be in proper alphabetical order, yet others appear to be in random order. In whatever arrangement they are in, the certificates were bound in volumes and numbered with a repeating sequence of numbers for both the certificates and the bound volumes for each year beginning with 1911 and continuing at least through 1976.
Important genealogical facts in death entries:
- Date of death for the deceased. Starting around 1911, the records increasingly include the burial and birth dates and places.
- Place of death for the deceased. Starting around 1911, the records increasingly include the cemetery name where buried, as well as the birthplace (the state and sometimes town or county).
- Name of the deceased. Starting around 1911, the records increasingly include the name of the spouse and parents, often with maiden surnames of women. The informant, who is often a child or other family member, is also named.
- Starting around 1911, the records increasingly note the names of the spouse and parents
- Starting around 1911, indicate whether the deceased was single, married, widowed, or divorced at the time of death
- Starting around 1911, give the occupation of the deceased and may identify the employer
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. Some on-line indexes, such as indexes to FamilySearch Historical Records, will take you directly to an image. 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.
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military 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.
- 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)
Standard forms for death certificates and report of death were filled out by a county clerk, mortician or medical professional, who talked to the informant. The certificates were filed with county clerks or local registrars, who forwarded the information to the Texas Department of Health, now known as the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Why This Collection Was Created?
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. The other information is usually provided by the informant (often a family member).The reliability of this information depends upon the following:
- Length of time since the event. Birth information or age for an adult may not be exact.
- If the informant knew the answers to the questions. An adult child or sibling of the deceased was more likely to know the answers. Women tended to learn and remember family information more often than men.
- The informant’s interest in giving accurate information. Some information may have been colored by family secrets, etc.
- Emotional state of the informant. Emotions generated by death may have degraded the quality of the information.
Known Issues with This Collection
Texas Deaths, 1890–1976: This collection includes a name index and images of Texas statewide death certificates. The name index has been created by FamilySearch, and it is tied to images of the Texas death certificates. Few certificates are available prior to 1903.
There is also more information about Texas Vital Records at the FamilySearch Research Wiki at
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from the record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find th record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you do 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 in found in the Wiki Article: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
- "Texas Deaths 1890-1976." index and images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org): accessed 7 April 2011. entry for Emma Tomlinson, died 29 September 1919; citing Death Records, FHL microfilm 2,073,674; Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Health, Austin, Texas
Sources of Information for This Collection
"Texas, Deaths, 1977-1986." FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org). Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics. Digital images of originals housed at the State Registrar Office in Austin, Texas. FHL microfilm and digital images. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.