Free sources to verify a death

Government agencies, financial lenders, family history researchers and private investigators all have an interest in verifying whether a person has died, where and the circumstances. Here are some free resources to get you started with your search:

Free Genealogy and Family History Sources & Databases is a page of resources I’m still building but it has links to a variety of sites for finding and verifying a death. It includes area specific and aggregated sources for death indexes, newspaper obituaries and death notices, cemeteries and the Death Master File aka Social Security Death Index.

– County Vital Records of deaths may be indexed online. Notices of deaths are sometimes buried(!) in county or town year-end reports.

– Deaths can be searched onsite at the county vital records recorder. If you don’t have the exact spelling you may be able to Wildcard your
county public record searches

Directories of Public Records online supplement your search with direct links to burials and deaths indexed by states, counties and private entities. All directories are incomplete. Even though this is a good one, you’ll find additional death indexes on my page, Free Genealogy and Family History Sources & Databases, that aren’t here.

– Search newspapers directly through their sites but also through the aggregated news site Google News and News Archive for mentions of your subject, which may identify where they lived, if not provide an obituary. Recorded deaths that are not at the government website of vital records may be in Newspaper databases of public records.

– Find the burial sites of military veterans and their spouses in the National Gravesite Locator .

– State government divisions of the Secretary of State, the state library and the state archive have digitized records. The documents and indexes that aren’t online are available for free at the agency repository. Often, the catalog of holdings is at the website.

– The New Orleans Public Library, Guide To Genealogical Materials details the various entities that have collected death and burial records and where they can be researched, which will guide you to types of sources you can find in Louisiana and other states.

– Search in various search engines using variations of the subject’s name: [First name Middle name Last name], [First name Middle initial Last name], [Last name First name Middle name]. Search names of relatives. Search birth names and married names. Add a city where they last lived or where they grew up or other identifiers, such as a business name.


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