Michigan Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897 .

Collection Time Period

The state of Michigan required registration of deaths beginning in 1867. This collection covers deaths registered through 1897.

Record Description

Two page ledger form provided by the Michigan Secretary of State. The registration ledgers are bound in volumes by year. The counties are listed alphabetically within each volume.

Record Content

Michigan Death Register DGS 4207945 21.jpg
Key genealogical facts found in the Michigan death records are:
  • Name of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Sex and color
  • Marital status
  • Age in years, months, and days
  • Disease or apparent cause of death
  • Birthplace of deceased
  • Names and occupations of parents
  • Date the record was made

How to Use the Records

Use death registers to obtain death information. You may also find burial information. The registers normally provide clues for further research: names of parents, birth date, birthplace, and place of residence.

Record History

From 1867 to 1897 the township supervisor or city assessor or supervisor annually canvassed their area and recorded the deaths that took place the year preceding the first Monday in April. The supervisor or assessor returned the results to the county clerk within 30 days of completing the canvass. Each year the county clerk forwarded the records to Secretary of State. The Secretary of State had the records bound in books, one for each year, and made an annual report to the Governor. Registration was initially very incomplete. Some counties did not report any deaths during the first three years of this statute. This law remained in effect until 1897 when the state required a death certificate be issued. It is believed that approximately half of the deaths were missed in the time period from 1867 until 1897. 

Why This Record Was Created

Deaths were recorded to serve public health needs. They are also used to probate wills and administer the deceased person’s estate.  

Record Reliability

Death information was collected during the year following the death of the individual. The assessor or supervisor could obtain the information from anyone who had knowledge of the death. Normally it would be the spouse, parent or child, but could be another relative, neighbor, physician, or undertaker. The information would only be as reliable as the informant’s knowledge or memory.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?

When searching for Michigan Deaths, please also search the Missouri Deaths, 1867-1975 collection, as there are stray Michigan Deaths found there.

Related Web Sites

Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897

Seeking Michigan

Collection: Death Records, 1897-1920

This Library of Michigan collection of Michigan death certificates features nearly 1 million records. This statewide collection offers researchers critical information in tracking Michigan ancestors during this time period. Information includes the decedent's birth date and place, parents' names and birthplace, cemetery name and location, and much more.

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Related Wiki Articles

Michigan Vital Records

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

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

Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection 

"Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897." index and images, FamilySearch (https://.www.familysearch.org: accessed 25 March 2011. entry for Howard V. Mason, died 7 April 1890; citing Death Records, FHL microfilm 2,363,828; Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing, Michigan.

Sources of Information for This Collection:

"Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897," index and images, FamilySearch; from Michigan Secretary of State. "Death records, 1867-1897." Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing, Michigan. FHL microfilm, 42 reels. Salt Lake City, Utah.

A full bibliographic record is available in the Family History Library Catalog.

The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections