UPDATE - 16 Oct 2019 - One of the primary sites for finding Michigan Death Records was seekingmichigan.org. That site no longer exists and all of their collections have been moved to Michiganology.org. Unfortunately, there is no redirect and you must actually go to the new site. I have updated my post to reflect these changes.
This post was prompted by a private message sent to me today on Facebook. The inquiry concerned where to find Michigan death in the 1900’s.
I answered the inquiry and that resulted in a couple of more questions about death records in Michigan.
So, here is a quick reference on what records you can find and where you can find them.
Michigan began keeping death records, by law, in 1867. Registration of these records was not enforced until a 1905 law made the filing of records much more effective.
WHERE TO FIND RECORDS ONLINE
You can find an index for these records on the website
Genealogical Death Indexing System (commonly referred to as GENDIS) http://www.mdch.state.mi.us/gendisx/search.htm
(See the update below regarding viewing images of these records)
-- REMEMBER CLICKING ANY IMAGE ON THIS PAGE WILL ENLARGE IT--
Once on this page you can enter the descendant's name, father’s last name, county of death, and a range of years from 1867-1897. You can sort by any of those criteria using the drop down list in the lower right hand corner.
NOTE: My experience in using this database is that you can usually just enter a last name and click on search. Unless, of course, your searching for Smith or Williams or another fairly common name. There are few enough records on this site that entering just a last name will give you the biggest result. If you find there are too many records (or the site tells you there are too many), then narrow your search by entering more information, such as a first name. As with any search, less is usually better, so that you don’t miss anything. I throw a big net and then narrow. Some people like to throw a narrow net and then enlarge it. Whatever you are comfortable with will work.
When I entered the last name HART, I got a page full of hits. And, the site told me the query was too broad to show all matching records. In that case you’d want to enter more criteria.
Here is a sample from that page.
Let’s click on the first name on the list, Abigail Hart.
Here is our result.
As you can see this is some really good genealogical information. Everything from the date of her death to her cause of death to her father’s name and much more.
UPDATE: Thanks to reader Deidre who reminded me that the images to these records from 1867-1897 are now available on familysearch.org. This link will take you directly to the death records search page https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1452402
Once you have entered the search criteria for the person you are looking for you will see a screen like this.
As indicated above, click on "View Document" to bring up the image.
NOTE: Be sure to go to the next page in the record in order to view all the data available. Many times the first page you see will not contain everything.
These records came online slowly, but steadily, until they were finished a couple of years ago. We waited with great anticipation, knowing that they were loading images as well as the data.
These records can be located on the website
Here is what you’ll see when you open the site.
Scroll on the page until you see Death Records and then click "view collection"
This opens a screen that looks like this:
NOTE: Thanks to reader, Sonja, for letting me know that the images for this group of records will be gradually added to the michiganology.org site. Due to restrictions on the release of death information, they will only show those that are over 75 yrs. ago. So, as of 2019 they have posted images back to 1944. I look forward, each year, to the new set of death records to view.
Isn’t it wonderful to see an actual image, online? Now you can use your own skills to determine what each entry says. Transcribers don’t always get it right, do they?
NOTE: Before I would save this image to my computer and add it to my database, I would want to get rid of that awful black border, maybe darken the image a bit and possibly straighten it just a tad. I do this ALL the time with images from Ancestry, familysearch or other sites where I find images.
Here is my blog post about the method I use for making the images look great:
EASY DOCUMENT EDITING http://www.michiganfamilytrails.com/2013/11/easy-document-editing.html
Here is the image after I cleaned it up.
The index for these records is available on familysearch.org. There are 1,681,256 as of 29 Apr 2013. No images have been added yet, but at least there are transcriptions of a portion of the death certificate.
Go to familysearch.org, Search, then click on United States, then on Michigan and you will get all the Michigan selections.
You can see the fourth selection from the top is Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952.
Another place to check for vital records is at the county level. Many counties throughout the U.S. have websites. Some, like West Virginia and Missouri have indexes and images.
That’s it. Those are the available online death records for Michigan. I hope you’ll have great success in using these resources. I know I have.
Copyright © 2013 Diane Gould Hall