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Each collection features a unique aspect of Michigan's history.
How might I use the information in this collection?
This collection consists of nearly one million death records created between 1897 and 1920. If you’re doing genealogy research, you might use these records to fill in gaps in your family history. You can find out where ancestors are buried, and even where some ancestors are born if they’re listed on a death certificate as someone’s parent. Effective in 1898, the following information was collected on death certificates:
- Date of death
- First and last name of deceased
- Whether married, single, widowed, or divorced
- Age in years, months and days
- Place of death
- Disease or apparent cause of death
- Nativity of the deceased
- Occupation, if over 10 years of age
- If under that age, the names and residence of the parents, if known
- Date of record
- If married, age at first marriage
- Parent of how many children
- How many children are living
- Birthplace (state or country if not born in Michigan)
- Full names of both parents
- Birthplaces of both parents
- Proposed place and time of burial
- Signature and address of reporter certifying above facts
- Signature and address of undertaker
If you’re researching broader demographic trends, you might be able to compile statistics based on the information in these records.
How do I find things in this collection?
You can search this collection by last name, first name, county, city/village/township, death year, birth year, an individual’s age at death, and an individual’s father’s first or last name by using the Advanced Search link at the top of any page within Seeking Michigan. Death records will be pre-selected for you. For each field you want to search, you’ll need to choose “all of the words,” “any of the words,” “the exact phrase,” or “none of the words” in the drop-down menu on the left, enter your search term in the text box, and choose the field you want to search from the drop-down menu on the right. Try searching multiple fields to get more focused results. For example, if you add your ancestor’s birth year to a search for his or her name, the results you get are more likely to be what you’re seeking. You can also use the “or” option to search multiple spellings of a name or multiple locations if you’re unsure of where someone died.
What’s the story behind this collection?
Public Act 194 of 1867 required county clerks to file certain facts about all deaths recorded in their counties with the Secretary of State. (The information was later collected by the Department of Public Health and is now collected by the Department of Community Health.)