Washington, Death Certificates (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: Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960 .
Collection Time Period
The state of Washington began registration of deaths July 1, 1907. This collection covers from then until 1960.
Each death is reported on a one page pre-printed form. Certificates are filed by year within each county or large city. Counties are arranged alphabetically. Large cities are arranged alphabetically following the county lists. Certificates are arranged by number within the county or city. Each county or city numbered their own certificates beginning with number one.
Key genealogical facts found in death certificates are:
- Dates of death and burial
- Place of death
- Name of cemetery where buried or other disposition of remains, such as cremation or removal from place of death
- Frequently, the birth date and/or age, written as years, months, and days, of the deceased
- Frequently, the names of parents including the maiden name of mother and the married name of spouse
- Frequently, the country or state and sometimes the town and county of birth for the deceased and the parents
- Name of the informant, who is often a child or other family member
- The sex and marital status of the deceased
- Residence or address of the deceased, often including length of residence at that place
- Occupation of the deceased
- Cause of death of the deceased, as certified by a medical practitioner or county coroner
How To Use The Record
Use death certificates to obtain death information. You may also find burial information. The certificates normally provide clues for further research: names of parents, birth date, birthplace, place of residence, and name of spouse. The informant may be a spouse or child.
The legislature in 1891 made it the responsibility of all coroners, physicians, and midwives or any other person assisting in the birth of a child to report to the county auditor all deaths which came under their supervision. Death registrations prior to 1907 were filed in the counties. From 1907 to 1960 the records were filed in the health department offices of the counties or the cities. From time to time county names and county boundaries changed, and several changes took place within the range of this records series. For example, Chehalis County became Grays Harbor County. The list of cities that maintained their own separate health departments also increased. In 1907 the cities were Bellingham, Everett, Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. By 1948 there were 21 cities. These changes should always be considered when researching in the records series.
Initially, registration was very incomplete. The law was generally complied with by 1917. A licensed funeral director is now required to complete the death certificate before a burial or transit permit can be issued.
Why This Record Was Created
Deaths were recorded to serve public health needs. They are also used to probate wills and administer the deceased person’s estate.
Death certificates are reliable for the death date and place of the deceased. Burial information is generally very reliable unless the burial took place out of the state. Other information provided will only be as reliable as the informant’s knowledge or memory.
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Sources of Information for This Collection
"Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960," database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/); from Washington State Bureau of Vital Statistics. "Death Certificates, Washington State, 1907-1960," Bureau of Vital Statistics, Olympia. FHL microfilm, 960 rolls. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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
- United States. Bureau of Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: Setpemper 29.2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B,line 71.
- Mexico, Districto Federal, Catholic Church Records 1886-1933, digital imagbes, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Femandez Jimenez, 1 Feb, 1910, San Pedro Apostol, Cuahimalpa, Districto Federal, Mexico Film number 0227023