Tennessee County and City Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.

Collection Time Period

This collection contains death records that were created between 1881 and 1955.

Record History

Most counties in Tennessee kept birth and death records beginning in 1908. These records were kept by the county clerks in each county and then sent to the State Board of Health. However, many deaths were not registered. There are no statewide birth or death records for 1913 because the law requiring registration expired in that year. On January 1, 1914, a new law requiring deaths to be registered was passed.

Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis kept birth and death records prior to 1908. Some counties kept records as early as 1881. State registration requirements were not comprehensively complied with until about 1927

Why this Record Was Created

The state required counties to begin recording deaths to track public health issues. They were also used with the probate of wills and the administration of estates.

Record Reliability

Information regarding the event of death is usually reliable. Other information, such as the birthplace and the parents’ names, is only as reliable as the knowledge of the informant.

Record Description

Deaths records were handwritten on pre-printed forms.

Record Content

Information contained in death certificates from different places and time periods can vary greatly. It is important to note that information in the county records after 1914 generally contains less information than the state records. For example, information about parents is not usually included in the county records, but it is in the state records. Therefore, for that time period, it is important to check the state set of records.

Death records may include the following genealogical information:

  • Name of the deceased
    Tennessee County and City Death Records (09-0002) DGS 004306918 02631.jpg
  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age
  • Usual residence of the deceased
  • Length of residence
  • Marital status
  • Place of death
  • Hospital where died
  • Cause of death
  • Place of birth
  • Date of birth
  • Name of the father
  • Birthplace of the father (state or country)
  • Maiden name of the mother
  • Birthplace of the mother (state or country)
  • Occupation
  • Military service
  • Name of the physician last in attendance
  • Place of burial
  • Date of burial
  • Name of the informant

How to Use the Record

Death certificates are the best source of death information. Information about the births of an individual and the parents could lead to further information regarding the parents. Informants could also be children or other relatives.

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Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Tennessee Vital records

Sources of Information for This Collection

“Tennessee Deaths, 1881-1955,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org). Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee and various county courts throughout Tennessee. FHL microfilm and digital images. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

How to Cite Your Sources

Instructions for citing this source can be found at: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections