Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Texas Statewide Death Certificates Records 

How To Use This Record

Death certificates are the best source of death information. The certificates contain clues for further research: the birth date and birthplace of the individual; the name of the spouse; the names of parents; the place of residence; the name of the informant who may be a child of the deceased. 

Why This Record Was Created

Deaths were recorded to better serve public health needs. They were also used in connection with the probate of wills and the administration of estates. 

Record History

Standard forms for death certificates and report of death were filled out by a county clerk, mortician or medical professional, who talked to the informant. The certificates were filed with county clerks or local registrars, who forwarded the information to the Texas Department of Health, now known as the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

Record Description

For the years 1903-1909, two small pre-printed “report of death” forms are on one page. From 1911 on, each death was recorded on a one-page pre-printed “standard death certificate” form. The year 1910 has a mixture of reports of death and standard death certificates.

Record Coverage

Texas has recorded deaths from 1903 to the present, plus about 250 registrations from the 1890s-1939, and nearly 2,000 delayed registrations of death from 1890s-1990, as reported from obituaries and probate records.  

Record Content

Important genealogical facts in death entries:

  • Date of death for the deceased. Starting around 1911, the records increasingly include the burial and birth dates and places.
  • Place of death for the deceased. Starting around 1911, the records increasingly include the cemetery name where buried, as well as the birthplace (the state and sometimes town or county).
  • Name of the deceased. Starting around 1911, the records increasingly include the name of the spouse and parents, often with maiden surnames of women. The informant, who is often a child or other family member, is also named.
  • Starting around 1911, the records increasingly note the names of the spouse and parents
  • Starting around 1911, indicate whether the deceased was single, married, widowed, or divorced at the time of death
  • Starting around 1911, give the occupation of the deceased and may identify the employer 

Record Reliability

Information pertaining to death is reliable; including cause of death, name of the attending physician or medical professional, name and address of the funeral home used, and the exact date and place of burial. The other information is usually provided by the informant (often a family member).
The reliability of this information depends upon:

  • Length of time since the event. Birth information or age for an adult may not be exact.
  • If the informant knew the answers to the questions. An adult child or sibling of the deceased was more likely to know the answers. Women tended to learn and remember family information more often than men.
  • The informant’s interest in giving accurate information. Some information may have been colored by family secrets, etc.
  • Emotional state of the informant. Emotions generated by death may have degraded the quality of the information.