Tag Archives: Death Certificates

Genealogy Question of the Week

I want an obituary or a death certificate for my grandmother who died January 7th 1903. Can you help me?
This is a very frequent request as obituary information is very helpful to family historians/genealogists as they are conducting research and creating and verifying family ties. Unfortunately, it is a request that is many times difficult to fulfill. Kentucky did not require its counties to register births and deaths until 1911 and did not require marriage registrations until 1958. There was a short period in 1852 when statewide registration was first enacted but Kentucky’s compliance was sporadic. This early requirement lasted only ten years with some births and deaths being recorded for 1852-1862, 1874-79, 1892–1910. Some larger cities such as Louisville, Covington, Lexington and Newport maintained registered births and deaths for the years 1890–1911 in their respective health departments. See Jeffery M. Duff’s Inventory of Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1852–1910 for county holdings. At the Kentucky Library and Museum, we hold microfilmed copies of death certificates from 1911 to 1959. These certificates become public records after 50 years.
Local newspapers are a great source for obituary information if one has a pinpointed date of death. However, there are not always extant papers for the years sought. The Kentucky Library and Museum has an extensive collection of microfilmed newspapers for this area and surrounding counties. The KLM also has death registers from various funeral homes and select Bowling Green, Kentucky – Death Records, 1877-1913 that are “physician’s death certificates and undertaker’s certificates relating to permits for burials within the city of Bowling Green. [These certificates] include information on the deceased’s date and cause of death, age, race, and marital status, place of birth, residence, and date and place of intended interment. [And they] may include other documentation if a death occurred outside Warren County.” See http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/dlsc_mss_fin_aid/1246/ for an index. Other indexes for 1911 and after include: Kentucky Vital Records Index (University of Kentucky) http://ukcc.uky.edu/vitalrec/, the Kentucky Vital Records Project http://kyvitals.com/index.php and http://vitals.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ky/death/search.cgi
Sources for online newspapers with obituaries include Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. This site allows you to search and view select newspaper pages from 1860-1922 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ The Kentucky Library and Museum also has access to the Historical New York Times (1851-2006), the Historical Los Angeles Times (1811-1986), the Times Digital Archives (1785–1985) and for the local area, the Park City Daily News archive (1999-to present). Please contact klmref@wku.edu for further information.

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