Today, I’ve been requesting copies of vital records for some of my kin. One item I requested was my paternal grandmother’s death certificate.
First off, why would I do this? It may sound morbid, but there can be a lot of rich genealogical information in this document. The death certificate will typically list the date, time, location and cause of death. In addition, it will include the name of the deceased’s spouse, the names of their parents, Social Security number and place of residence. If the death was related to a medical condition, the recent history of the condition may be discussed. The name of the cemetery/funeral home that accepted the remains may be listed.
My paternal grandmother passed away in Chevy Chase, Md., in 1943. I was able to determine where her death certificate would be held by reviewing the Maryland State Archives web page about vital records. Had my relative passed away after 1968, a different state office would have held the death certificate.
For death records held by the Archives, users search a digital collection for the deceased individual. Click “Search MD Vital Records” in the top-left corner and then select the repository that will contain the record you are after. Mine was “DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Death Record, Counties, Index) 1910-1951 MSA SE 7.”
Clicking on that link brings you to an index broken down by date and then alphabetically. Clicking on the range pertaining to my ancestor and then narrowing down still further to the initial of her last name brought up an alphabetical list of index card images.
Each card contains the name, date of death, county, race and age of the deceased. Clicking on the index card for your ancestor brings up the form for requesting the death certificate itself. You have the option of ordering a simple copy or a certified copy.
While filling out the form, you’ll be asked to enter your personal information and re-enter the information of your ancestor (as a means of verification). Unfortunately, you can’t submit the form online. You must then print out the form and send it in with your payment (currently, $12 for a plain copy and $25 for a certified copy).
And then you wait. I’ll report back when I receive the death certificate!