Sunday, November 01, 2020

Tip - How do I find where and when my ancestor died?

 Q. How do I find where and when my ancestor died?

A. Most counties in Illinois started recording deaths in the 1870’s.  This was a public health mandate by the state although it took a few years for compliance to reach 100%. 

A good place to start are the databases at the Illinois State Archives - .  There are 2 databases that can be searched separately – one is for deaths prior to 1916, the other for deaths between 1916-1950.  There are some counties and dates that are not included in this database however.

Copies of many death registers can be found at the Illinois Regional Archive Depository (IRAD) for that area.  Early death registers can be found online at Family Search for many counties as well. 

Copies of Death Certificates can be obtained from the Illinois State Archives – an easy way to do this is through the ISGS Death Certificate Look Up service at


Note: This was originally published in the "Tips from the Genealogy Committee" column in the Illinois State Genealogical Society Newsletter (May 2020).  While these tips were written for those researching Illinois ancestors, many of the principles can be applied to other locations.

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