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Massachusetts Deaths - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Massachusetts, United States
Massachusetts flag.png
Flag of Massachusetts
US Locator Massachusetts.png
Location of Massachusetts
Record Description
Record Type Death Records
Collection years 1841-1915
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Secretary of State. State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The collection consists of an index and images of Massachusetts statewide death registers and certificates for the years 1841 to 1915. When deaths were recorded on register forms, the second page of the form is on the next image. The death registers and certificates are in numbered volumes arranged by year then by individual town.

Starting in 1841, the state required that a copy of each death recorded in a town or city be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Since 1896, the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics has been the repository for the copies. Population coverage is near 100% for later years. Coverage is not as complete for some earlier years.

Deaths were recorded to serve public health needs. They were also used to probate wills and administer the deceased individual’s estate. The information is generally reliable for the place and date of death of the deceased. Other information will only be as reliable as the informant’s knowledge or memory.

The earlier records were recorded by hand in a register style format. In the early 1900’s, individual death certificates came into use.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Deaths

  • Town and year where death recorded
  • Full name and age of deceased
  • Death date and place of death
  • Gender, marital status and occupation
  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names
  • Cause of death
  • Place and date of burial
  • Name of informant (sometimes shows a relationship to deceased)
  • Name of the funeral home or director

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Image[edit | edit source]

Digital Folder Number List[edit | edit source]

This collection was published as a DGS browse collection. The list does not contain any description of the DGS folder's content. A table listing each DGS number and its contents can be found at Massachusett Deaths Digital Folder Number List.


How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate death date
  • The place where the death occurred

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images[edit | edit source]

To view images in this collection:
  1. Look at the Massachusetts Deaths Digital Folder Number List article to determine the folder/film number for the images you want to see
  2. Go to the Browse Page
  3. Select the Film number to view the images


How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find or verify their birth records and parents' names
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records
  • Use the residence and names of the parents (if the deceased is a child) to locate church and land records
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records
  • The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records, which often include the names and residences of other family members
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the deceased who may have died or been buried in the same county or nearby This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Massachusetts.


Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.