The long awaited release of the Pennsylvania Birth & Death certificates is at hand. According to James Beidler’s column in the Lebanon Daily News the big day is, fingers crossed, April 17th. Read James’ article here for the full details of the staggered rollout of the records online at ancestry.com. For those of us with Pennsylvania relatives this is a big day. We’ve gone from death certificates being private records not available to the public, to making them public records 55 years after death. In honor of this day we are going to discuss the 2 GenDetective reports I have sitting on the corner of my desk waiting for opening day.
When Pennsylvania initially released their indexes for their PA Death records collection, I immediately dug into the indexes. I identified my relatives who died in Pennsylvania by year, and then located them in the state indexes. I believed there was no way I would be able to afford to request death certificates for all of the aunts and uncles (5 pages worth of names), let alone the first cousins. In anticipation of the release of the actual death certificate images on ancestry.com I printed out my list of relatives whose:
- death occurred in Pennsylvania, between the years of 1906-1924
- death event references my Death Index: Pennsylvania Death Index source
This wonderful report created my research list, and can be found in GenDetective 2 under the title “People with this source for this event in state during these years”. I also ran the companion report “People without this source for this event in this state during years” in order to identify the additional relatives whose death I had not been able to confirm in the Pennsylvania death indexes. Between these two reports I have the list of people that I can locate quickly (I know their death certificate numbers) and the list of people I may have to dig into in order to find their death certificate.
What am I hoping to find in all of these death certificates? I want to expand upon the family medical history by including all of the aunts and uncles causes of death, confirm residence, birth dates, parents, family relationships, all of the normal things I would look for in a direct relatives birth or death certificate.