Michigan Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Michigan, United States
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Flag of Michigan
US Locator Michigan.png
Location of Michigan
Record Description
Record Type Death Records
Collection years 1867-1897
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in This Collection?

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

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.

The deaths are recorded on a 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.

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.

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

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.

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Information found in the Michigan death records includes:

  • Name of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Gender and race
  • Age in years, months, and days
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Cause of death
  • Birthplace of deceased
  • Parents' names and their residence
  • Date record was made

How Do I Search This Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The approximate date of death.
  • The place where the death occurred.
  • The names of family members and their relationships.

Search the Index

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

How Do I Analyze the Results?

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.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use death registers to confirm or provide death information.
  • Use the place and names to locate census records for the time period.
  • Use the age to calculate the birth date.
  • Use the birth date and place to locate a birth record.

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


Citing This Collection

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

"Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing Secretary of State. Department of Vital Records, Lansing.

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.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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.