Using free death records is an excellent way for a genealogist to document family history. A death record not only documents the passing of an ancestor, it also includes facts about that person's life.
Free Death Records Online
There are numerous free genealogy databases and listings on the Internet. Some of the most popular are:
| Website name || Website || Description || Notes |
| Social Security Death Index at Ancestory.com || http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693 || Database of deceased individuals who registered with the Social Security Administration (SSA) for Social Security benefits. || The SSA must have been notified of the person's demise in order to be listed in the database. Therefore not all individuals are listed. Dates for the listings are basically the second half of the 20th century. |
| Family Search Record Search || http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch || Multiple databases from around the world, including death and funeral records from California, Georgia, Idaho and Massachusetts. || Mostly 19th and 20th century listings. Click on "Browse our record collection" for a list of databases. Databases are added continuously. |
| USGenWeb || http://www.usgenweb.org || Databases and lists. Volunteer project hosting a website for every state and county in the United States. Almost every site has cemetery records. Many will also have family Bibles, obituaries, funeral home record and wills. || Volunteer sites, so quantity of information varies by website. |
| Find A Grave || http://www.findagrave.com/ || Popular cemetery database website with tombstone pictures || Not all burials are listed for all cemeteries. |
There are other places to look online. Some state archives may have state or local death information on their website. For example, the Tennessee State Library and Archives has a statewide listing of Tennessee deaths from 1914 to 1929.
You can also try an Internet search using Google or Yahoo. Search on an individual's name and the results may show an obituary online. Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet is a listing of genealogy websites, including those which have free death records.
Documentation of a Death
Looking for documentation about an ancestor's death can be challenging, but it is well worth the effort. The information may open new avenues of research for you, as well as provide insight into that ancestor's life.