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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Strategies for Finding a Death Date and Place
Posted by Allison
It seems that my great-grandmother is still living! (She was born about 1863!) I can't find where she died and is buried. I know about where and when. I've heard through the family she was cremated and buried with her husband. I've searched the Internet at home and the county library. All I've been able to come up with is seeing her name on the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses. She's listed below her husband in the 1910 and 1920 censuses and as widow in 1930. I've even tried to search her by her maiden name and still come up with no matches. Any ideas?
If you've done all your searching online thus far, don't worry about being stuck: You still have plenty more avenues to explore.
If your great-grandmother died after 1936 and had a Social Security number, she should appear in the Social Security Death Index, or SSDI (search multiple versions of this database simultaneously from
Steve Morse's One-Step
site). The SSDI lists the deceased's last residence, where you can check to see if she died or was buried.
Try to request a death certificate from the vital-records office of the state where you think she died. Every US state was issuing vital records by the 1920s, so you wouldn't need to know the specific town or county to get the record. See the National Center for Health Statistics'
Where to Write for Vital Records Web site
to learn the address, fees and ordering information for each US state.
Check Great-grandma's hometown newspapers for obituaries and death notices in the time frame you believe she died. You can identify newspapers published during that time, and which institutions have them on microfilm, at
Research the husband. You know from your census research he died between 1920 and 1930, and I’m guessing you also know where based on where they lived. Use this information to try to get his death certificate. Check newspapers for his obituaries, too. By identifying the husband’s burial location, you can find out if husband and wife are indeed buried together.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 7:16:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Thursday, March 27, 2008 6:58:54 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Here's another website that can be helpful for finding death records:
Online Searchable Death Indexes, Records and Obituaries
Thursday, April 03, 2008 6:53:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
And don't forget the possibility that she may have remarried and died with a different surname.
Friday, April 04, 2008 6:04:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
As Karen noted, she may have remarried, so while you are looking in newspapers, look for marriage announcements. Also, check newspapers where her children lived (if different from where she lived.) She may have died, or remarried in another community.
If on the other hand, you have not checked with the cemetery where her husband is buried, or the funeral home that served for the husband, try those too. Some times research involves phone calls and/or query letters.
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