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 .

Collection Time Period

The records cover the years 1905 to 1939.

Record Description

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.

Record Content

California, Death Index, 1905-1939 (11-0742) DGS 5240838 17.jpg

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

  • Name of the deceased
  • Initials of the spouse
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Date of death
  • Place of death or county of death
  • Place of Birth
  • Father's Place of Birth
  • Mother's Place of Birth
  • Occupation
  • Cause of Death
  • Father's Name
  • Mother's Maiden Name

How to Use the Record

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

Search the Collection

To search the collection you will need follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the appropriate "Year Range" link
⇒Select the appropriate "Surname Range" link 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.

The county of death in the individual entries is coded. The key to the codes is found on image 6 of the first "Surname Range" search "A, Yi-Emerson, George."

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.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

"California, Death Index, 1905-1939." Office of the State Register, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville. FHL microfilm, 7 reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections

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.

Example of a Source Citation for a Record Found in This Collection

"California, Death Index, 1905-1939,"  digital images, FamilySearch ( accessed 21 March 2012). entry for Adelbert Abbott, died September 22, 1935; citing Cslifornia Death Records, 1930-1939 > Aabel, Arnold-Hetterman, John > Image 5; Office of the State Register, Sacramento, California, United States, and Butte County Courthouse, Oroville, California, United States.

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