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Types of Death Records

There are several types of records that are created when someone dies. These death records are important in genealogy research because they provide details about how, when, and where the individual died, who his relatives were, where he is buried, where he resided, and more. Some death-related records are easier to locate than others, although all can have its own historical importance.

Certificate of Death: Certificates of death or the most important death-related record, and the one that you will typically want to seek out first. Certificates of death often provide the name of the deceased, when and where he was born, when, where, and how he died, who his spouse was, and sometimes where he was buried. These records can often be found online or in town archives.

Obituary: If you know when and where an ancestor died, you can do a search for his obituary. Obituaries may contain information, such as the names of the deceased person’s children, spouse, parents, and siblings. They may also list when and where he was married, where he worked, when and where he was born, and more. These records can sometimes be located online, but most often you will probably find them by searching old newspapers kept by town libraries.

Wills: Wills can provide clues about your ancestor’s estate and who his spouse and children were. They may provide information about his assets, who received his land after he died, and more. Wills are often archived in courthouses.

Tombstones: Once you know where your ancestor is buried, you may want to search for his tombstone. Tombstones often contain the name and death date of the individual. They may also list a maiden name, children’s names, birth date and location, and other useful information. If you cannot visit a cemetery, there are places online, such as FindAGrave.com and Interment.com, where you can request that a volunteer photograph the tombstone for you.

Sexton’s Records: Sextons are caretakers of cemeteries. They are responsible for overseeing the maintenance of the cemetery under their care. They also keep records of each person who is buried in the cemetery. Each sexton’s records may vary in the information they keep, but may include the name of the deceased, date of burial, date, cause, and place of death, maiden name, former residence, owner of the plot, military affiliation, and more. The location of these records varies between locations. Sometimes they may be located in an office on the grounds of the cemetery, other times they may be located in the sexton’s home.