Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tuesday's Tip: Research in Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1967

The record collection for Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1967 is one of my favorite record collections.  It is online at Ancestry.com with 23,965,999 indexed entries.  I think that the index includes the names of the deceased, their parents (if given) and their spouse (if given).

The original source for this online collection is the set of Pennsylvania (State) Death Certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons), which contains Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11, archived at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On Ancestry.com, the user will see this search page:

The user can search using any or some of the fields for first name, last name, birth date or year, death date or year, father's name, mother's name, spouse's name, children's name, and keywords.

The description of the information in this record collection is (from the Ancestry.com collection page):
Pennsylvania’s Department of Health began keeping birth and death records on a statewide basis on January 1, 1906. This collection includes death records beginning on that date through 1967.
Death certificates recorded the following details:
  • name and residence of the decedent
  • city and county of death
  • gender and race
  • marital status
  • age and date of birth
  • occupation
  • place of birth
  • parents' names and birthplaces
  • date of death
  • dates attended by physician
  • cause of death
  • attending physician and address
  • length of stay in hospital or institution or length of residency for transients or recent arrivals
  • place of burial or removal
  • date of burial
  • undertaker name and address
  • name and address of informant
Records of stillbirths were required to be filed as both a birth and death record, so you may find records of stillborn children in this collection.
The record summary for a Rhea Seaver (1890-1967) looks like this:

If the maiden name of a female is on the death certificate, it is listed in parentheses on the record summary.  The parents names and spouse's name, if provided on the certificate, are listed in the record summary.  The birth and death dates and places are listed if provided on the certificate.  More death information is provided on the certificate itself, including cause of death.

Here is the top part of the death certificate:

In this case, the name of the spouse is not provided.  However, the mother's maiden name is provided.

For my key surnames, this collection has these numbers of exact records:

*  Seaver:    64
*  Seavers:   67
*  Seever:      1
*  Seevers:  14
*  Sever:     68
*  Severs:   40
*  Sevier:    10

*  Carringer:  48
*  Caringer:     1

*  Auble:     43

*  Vaux:      84

The Ancestry "database number" for this collection is 5164.  I have over 400 profiles in my Ancestry Family Tree with a pending Hint in this collection.   I have accepted and rejected a number of Hints from this collection.

I was puzzled by the entry for Rhea (Waddell) Seaver in this collection, since I did not have her in my RootsMagic database.  There is a 1918 marriage record for Rhea McClure Waddell with Jno Lawrence Seaver in the Presbyterian Church marriage collection on Ancestry.  I don't have that John Lawrence Seaver in my RootsMagic database either.  So now I have another mystery to solve!


NOTE:  Tuesday's Tips is a genealogy blog meme intended to provide information about a resource helpful to genealogists and family historians, especially in the U.S. online genea-world.

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