Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Flag of Pennsylvania|
|Location of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania|
|Location of Pennsylvania|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 What Can these Records Tell Me?
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Citing this Collection
- 8 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What is in the Collection?
The format of the records varies:
- Registration of deaths, Board of Health, 1803–1915, exist in four formats: 1) Cemetery returns, 1803–1860, filed alphabetically by cemetery for each year (1803–1824), for each quarter (1825–1847), and for each week (1848–1860); 2) Death returns, 1860–June 30, 1890, filed alphabetically by cemetery name for each week; 3) Death certificates, July 1890–1903, filed by certificate number; 4) Death certificates, arranged by year and then by certificate number within each year.
- Death registers, Board of Health, 1860–1903, are bound volumes with preprinted pages. The entries are filed chronologically.
- Death records, Department of Public Health, 1834–1860, are bound volumes. The entries are filed by year and then by month.
- Burial records, Department of Public Health, 1807–1840, are loose papers filed by death date.
- Death records, General Hospital, 1866–1902, are bound volumes of preprinted forms and bound volumes of certificates, four to a page. The entries are filed chronologically.
- Death registers, City Hospital, 1840-1896, are bound volumes with entries filed chronologically.
- Death registers, Inspectors of the Jail and Penitentiary House, 1819–1914, are bound volumes.
Be aware that not every name in this collection is the name of someone who died. Some of the hospital registers provide date of discharge of living patients and those names are mingled in with the names of those who died.
By Act of April 1, 1803, Philadelphia established its Board of Health, which began to record deaths and burials. In 1860 the city passed a law requiring that all births, marriages, and deaths within the city be recorded in a systematic way. The board became the Bureau of Health in 1899 and was placed under the Department of Public Health in 1903. In accordance with a new state law, the bureau began sending copies of death records to the state in 1906. The various collections cover those buried in the city of Philadelphia, including some out-of-city deaths. The same individual may be found in more than one collection.
Original images for the Philadelphia City Death Certificates are available on Historical Records (free) and also through the Philadelphia City Archives (fee).
Photocopies of Philadelphia death records 1803-1915, are available by writing to:
- Philadelphia City Archives, 3101 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
- Enclose $10.00 payment, check or money order, payable to CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, for each death record photocopy requested.
With your request include this information, found on the FamilySearch.org web pages for “Philadelphia City Civil Death and Burial Records.”
If the death occurred:
- 1803-June 1860 - Name of Deceased and date of death
- July 1860-June 30, 1890 - Name of Deceased, date of death and cemetery name, if known
- July 1890–1915 – Name of deceased, date of death, and certificate number (cn number)
You can access Pennsylvania death records, if available, prior to 1906 through the courthouse in the county where the person died. A list of courthouses is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Vital Records Web site. Cemetery and church records are more likely sources to be available for 18th and 19th century deaths and burials.
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.
Philadelphia has recorded deaths since 1803.
What Can these Records Tell Me?
The information varies by record.
An Undertaker's Certificate included:
Death certificates, Bureau of Health, 1904–1915
Death registers, Board of Health, 1860–1903
Death records, Dept of Public Health, 1834–1860
Registration of deaths, Board of Health, 1803–1903
Burial Records, Dept of Public Health, 1807–1840
Death records, general hospital, 1866–1902, death registers
Death records, general hospital, 1866–1902, death certificates
Death registers, prison, 1819–1914
- Name and age of deceased
- Death date
- Prison where died
- Cause of death
How Do I Search the Collection?
You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search it is helpful to know:
- The name of your ancestor
- At least one other piece of information
Search the Index
Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
- Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
- Click Search to show possible matches
View the Images
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.
- Select Film Number (Digital Folder Number)
How Do I Analyze the Results?
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.
For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
What Do I Do Next?
Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.
I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?
- Use the information to locate funeral home, obituary or cemetery record.
- Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, marriage, census, land and probate records.
- Use the information to find additional family members.
- Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
- Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.
I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?
- Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
- If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
- Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name.
- Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
- Search the indexes and records of Pennsylvania, United States Genealogy.
- Search in the Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.
- Search in the FamilySearch Library Catalog
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
Citing this Collection
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.
- "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
- Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Department of Public Health. Burial records, 1807–1840 (Archival nos. Ph29A:1-26). Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Department of Public Health. Death records, 1834–1860. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Board of Health. Death registers, 1860–1903 (Archival no. 76.21). Philadelphia City Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia General Hospital (Pennsylvania). Death records, 1866–1902 (Archival nos. 35.158, 65.60, 65.61). Philadelphia City Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Inspectors of the jail and penitentiary house. Death register, 1819–1914 (Archival no. 38.74). Philadelphia City Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- City Hospital (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). City Hospital Register, 1840-1896 (Archival nos. 37.17, 76.29). Philadelphia City Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.