Washington, Death Certificates (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Washington, United States
Washington flag.png
Flag of Washington
US Locator Washington.png
Location of Washington
Record Description
Record Type Death
Collection years 1907-1960
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

This collection includes death certificates from 1907 to 1960. Each death is reported on a one-page printed form. Early certificates from 1907-1947 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. In 1948, a revised statewide numbering system was instituted.

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. The state of Washington began registration of deaths July 1, 1907. This collection covers from then until 1960.

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.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Information found in death certificates includes:

  • 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 Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know at least some of the following:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The approximate date of death.
  • The place where the death occurred.
  • The names of family members and their relationships.

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information in the list to what you already know about your ancestor to determine if it is the correct family or person. You may need to compare several persons in the list before you find your ancestor.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:<br


For 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 while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • 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 Washington, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the Washington Archives and Libraries.

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:c

"Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Bureau of Vital Statistics, Olympia.

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 Washington Death Certificates, 1907-1960.


How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.