Family History Skills: Finding Death Information

Last week, I completed Lesson 4:  Finding Death Information of the National Genealogical Society Family History Skills course.  The lesson offered a good overview of finding, deriving, and citing sources for death information.  While much of the basic information I already knew, I did learn about some new potential sources, finding aids, and tools.


The Library of Virginia has 6,000 family Bible transcriptions available online.  I haven’t checked this out yet, but I’ve used the Library of Virginia’s online collections before and this is a tremendous resource.

U. S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules – I mention this because I learned that some are available at FamilySearch (some are also available on, if you have access to that either through a personal subscription or at a library).  The lesson said the mortality schedules are available at FamilySearch Labs; however FamilySearch has moved many records to the new FamilySearch Beta site, recently.  I checked the Beta site and found the 1850 mortality schedule.

Some South Carolina Mortality Schedule transcriptions for 1870 are available through the Piedmont Historical Society.  Counties included are Chester, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union, and York.

The Chronicling America website has newspaper pages for about 20 states for the years 1860 to 1922.

Finding Aids and Tools

The Centers of Disease Control has a great web page called “Where to Write for Vital Records.”  This page will tell you where to write for birth, death, marriage, and divorce records; the cost of the record; and remarks including the dates that records began being kept in that state.  This is an excellent resource.

There is an online perpetual calendar available at Rootsweb that will help you figure out the exact date when you have an obituary that says the individual died “last Tuesday,” for example.  You do need the obituary publication date in order for this to work.  I tried out the perpetual calendar and it was easy to figure out the death date.

The Family History Skills course is free to NGS members.

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  1. Tonia Kendrick says

    It’s great that we have all these resources at our fingertips, but it’s hard to remember all the different places to look, isn’t it?

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