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Some Texas death certificates available online

May 19, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.


Are you searching for a Texas death certificate? Here are some facts to consider in your pursuit. First, Texas did not begin statewide registration of deaths officially until 1903 and many counties did not comply at that time. In fact, some county clerks did not begin recording them until as late as 1918. On the other hand, some counties have recorded death records prior to 1903.

Second, not all death records will be found in the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Health in Austin, Texas. Many remain in the individual city's Department of Health or County Clerk's office. If no recording of death exists for your person of interest at the state level, you must contact the city or county where the person died. Note that death records are recorded in the county where a person died and could be miles from their home. An example is my Aunt Gladys who lived all her life in Newton County near the Sabine River but died in San Antonio in her daughter's home where she spent her final days. Therefore, her death record is in Bexar County, far from the piney woods of East Texas.

A helpful guide to Texas county records and contact numbers is The Handybook for Genealogists. This well known reference book is available in most libraries. If you know the county of interest, you can phone the librarians and ask them to check the contact information for you. Also, you can go to USGenWeb.org, click the state, then county of interest and you will find not only contact information but their GenWeb project and digitized records.

Some Texas death certificates are available online through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Library in Salt Lake City. Go to www.familysearch.org. At the top of the page, click Search Records. Under this tab click Record Search pilot. Fill in the blanks. Click and you will find records added to the Family History Library website including Texas Death Certificates 1890-1976. Death records more recent than 1976 will not be available as printable certificates because of the 72-year privacy act. However, the date of death will be posted.

Not all death certificates are available or placed online. If you are searching for a female and do not know her married last name or the name of her spouse or one of her relatives, click Advanced Search.

Pre-1903 death certificates are sometimes classified as "delayed death certificates" and often were created years after a death to prove a person's demise to settle an estate. There are also certificates that were created when a person's remains were being moved from one cemetery to another.

If you still cannot locate your death record of interest, I suggest you contact the County Courthouse where the person resided and talk with the County Clerk. Ask about the death record you are seeking along with its time frame. In most cases you will receive an answer to your question and most likely your mission will be accomplished if the record is in existence.

Happy Researching.

E-mail genealogy queries to mjones@vicad.com VCGS members will research queries requiring extensive study.

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