California Death Index 1905-1939 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: California, Death Index, 1905-1939 .

Record Description

This Collection will include records from 1905 to 1939.

The collection consists of digital images of the death index located at the Office of the State Register, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville. The index is arranged alphabetically by the name of the deceased.

For a list of records by date or locality currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

California State Registrar. California, Death Index. Office of the State Register, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

The key genealogical facts the California Death Index record may include:

  • Name of decedent
  • Initial(s) of spouse
  • Age
  • Sex
  • County of death (coded)
  • Date of death
  • Date of registration
  • State file number

How to Use the Record

To browse this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Year Range" category
⇒ Select the "Surname Range" category which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. The index entries are brief so it is easy to confuse individuals. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the person at the time of death
  • Other identifying information such as the death date or place

The counties included in this index as well as their codes are listed in the following chart: They are also found on image 6 of the first "Surname Range" search "A, Yi-Emerson, George."

Code County Code County Code County
60 Alameda 21 Marin 41 San Mateo
02 Alpine 22 Mariposa 42 Santa Barbara
03 Amador 23 Mendocino 43 Santa Clara
04 Butte 24 Merced 44 Santa Cruz
05 Calaveras 25 Modoc 45 Shasta
06 Colusa 26 Mono 46 Sierra
07 Contra Costa 27 Monterey 46 Siskiyou
08 Del Norte 28 Napa 48 Solano
09 El Dorado 29 Nevada 49 Sonoma
10 Fresno 30 Orange 50 Stanislaus
11 Glenn 31 Placer 51 Sutter
12 Humboldt 32 Plumas 52 Tehama
13 Imperial 33 Riverside 53 Trinity
14 Inyo 34 Sacramento 54 Tulare
15 Kern 35 San Benito 55 Tuolumne
16 Kings 36 San Bernardino 56 Ventura
17 Lake 80 San Diego 57 Yolo
18 Lassen 90 San Francisco 58 Yuba
70 Los Angeles 39 San Joaquin

20 Madera 40 San Luis Obispo

Using the Information:

When you have located your ancestor’s death record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.

For example:

  • Use the death date to obtain a death certificate.
  • 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.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as 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.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Remember that indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

General Information About This Index:

California began indexing death records from various counties before July 1905. California became a state in 1850 with 27 original counties. Although the state ordered the keeping of records, this order was NOT enforced and each county kept records according to the notion of the local County Recorder. Today, there are 58 counties from that original 27. Thus, some counties will have records from an earlier date than others. Very few records, if any, are available before the 1860s.

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Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

 Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"California, Death Index, 1905-1939," images, FamilySearch ( accessed 23 April 2012), 1930-1939 > Aabel, Arnold-Hetterman, John > Image 5 of 819, Adelbert, Abbott, 22 September 1935; citing California State Registrar, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville.