South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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South Africa

FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972 .
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Title in the Language of the Records

Suid-Afrika, Kaap Provinsie, Siviele Sterftes

What is in the Collection?

This collection includes death records that cover the years 1895-1972.

Entries are generally in chronological order and are usually grouped alphabetically by locality. In many cases, the English name rather than the preferred Afrikaans name is used to maintain alphabetical sequence. However, some records are filed out of alphabetical order. Most of the records are handwritten in English.

In South Africa, the National Archives holds records of births, marriages, and deaths on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs. The Registration of births and deaths was made compulsory in 1894 and began in 1895. Indexes and registers are available up to the early 1970s.

Compulsory civil registration began at different dates for the various parts of South Africa. For Cape Province, the birth and death records start with the year 1895 and the marriage records start in 1840. In Cape Province, provision was made for voluntary registering of births from 1880.

The National Archives of South Africa is the main repository of documents created before 1956. The National Archives has a number of repositories scattered throughout the country; the one for Cape Province is located in Cape Town (Western Cape).

The Department of Home Affairs maintains the records of births, marriages, and deaths, but the physical records are not accessible to the public for research purposes. To access information, you must apply in writing to the Department of Home Affairs and give exact information about the event.

Civil registration records such as birth, marriages, and deaths are recorded for vital statistics and to better serve public health needs.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972.

Collection Content

Death records usually contain the following information:

  • Full name, age and gender of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Cause of death and duration of illness
  • Race or nationality, and place of residence
  • Occupation and marital status at time of death
  • Intended place of burial
  • Name of informant and their residence
  • Sometimes, the names of parents
  • Date and place of registration

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Approximate year of death
  • Municipality

Search the Collection

To search by index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

Additional indexes for various localities are available on the Genealogical Society of South Africa (GGSA) website.

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page:
⇒Select the appropriate "Year"
⇒Select the appropriate "Municipality or Municipality Range" which will take you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

What Do I Do Next?

Civil registration gives important information about an individual, including personal details that may also help in finding other ancestors of the same family. If you have found the record of your ancestor, the following information can aid you in your research:

  • Use the age to calculate the year of birth
  • The place of residence may help you determine if that is the place your ancestor was born.
  • The place of residence may help you know where to find other relatives of the deceased person.
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Don't overlook FHL Place South Africa, Cape Province items or FHL Keyword South Africa, Cape Province items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see South Africa Archives and Libraries.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.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.

Related Websites

South African Research Training:

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

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.


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.

Collection citation:

"South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Department of the Interior, Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths. National Archives, Pretoria.


Record citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972.

Image citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895-1972.