California Death Index 1905-1939 - FamilySearch Historical Records

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California Death Index, 1905-1939
This article describes a collection of records at
United States
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Flag of California
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Location of California
Record Description
Record Type Death Index
Collection years 1905-1939
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Department of Health Services. Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento

What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The collection consists of the California Death Index for the years 1905 to 1939. The index is arranged alphabetically by the name of the deceased and includes: initials of spouse, social security number (if known), code number of county where death occurred, date of death, registrar number and state file number. The code for the age unit is listed as follows:
1 - Years
2 - Months
3 - Days
4 - Hours
5 - Minutes
A - 100 years or over
[blank] - Unknown

California began indexing death records from various counties before July 1905. California became a state in 1850 with 27 original counties. Today there are 58 counties from that original 27. Although the state ordered the keeping of records in 1905, this order was NOT enforced and each county kept records according to the notion of the local County Recorder. Some counties will have records from an earlier date than others. Very few records, if any, are available before the 1860's. Original records are located in California at the Office of the State Register, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville. Some of the pages in the index, did not get filmed or were missing when the index was originally filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1990.

Place of death or county where death occurred is given in code as listed in the chart below. Larger cities have the following separate codes: 60 Alameda, 70 Los Angeles, 80 San Diego, 90 San Francisco.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for California Death Index, 1905-1939.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

  • The name of decedent
  • Initial(s) of spouse
  • Age (coded Units of Age)
  • Sex
  • County of death (coded by County and larger Cities)
  • Date of death
  • Date of registration
  • State file number

California County and City Codes[edit | edit source]

Code City / County Code City / County Code City / County Code City / County
01 Alameda (County) 21 Marin 41 San Mateo 70 Los Angeles (City)
02 Alpine 22 Mariposa 42 Santa Barbara 80 San Diego (City)
03 Amador 23 Mendocino 43 Santa Clara 90 San Francisco (City)
04 Butte 24 Merced 44 Santa Cruz
05 Calaveras 25 Modoc 45 Shasta
06 Colusa 26 Mono 46 Sierra
07 Contra Costa 27 Monterey 47 Siskiyou
08 Del Norte 28 Napa 48 Solano
09 El Dorado 29 Nevada 49 Sonoma
10 Fresno 30 Orange 50 Stanislaus
11 Glenn 31 Placer 51 Sutter
12 Humboldt 32 Plumas 52 Tehama
13 Imperial 33 Riverside 53 Trinity
14 Inyo 34 Sacramento 54 Tulare
15 Kern 35 San Benito 55 Tuolumne
16 Kings 36 San Bernardino 56 Ventura
17 Lake 37 San Diego (County) 57 Yolo
18 Lassen 38 San Francisco (County) 58 Yuba
19 Los Angeles (County) 39 San Joaquin
20 Madera 40 San Luis Obispo 60 Alameda (City)

This information is also available along with an explanation of the information found on the index, including the keys to the codes used for the units of age and place of death, can be found on this image. NOTE: Some county codes erroneously include their larger city code. For example: Alameda (County) should be 01; Alameda (City) is 60.

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Image[edit | edit source]

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate death date and/or place of death

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

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

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Collection Browse Page:
  1. Select Year Rance
  2. Select Surname Range to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

If these are indexes, the original records may contain additional information than was not indexed, or the information might have been indexed incorrectly. You may want to search for the original record at the Department of Public Health.

I Found the Person I was Looking for, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use the age or estimated birth date to find other vital records such as birth and marriage
  • Use the information found in the record to find additional family members in census records
  • Search for death or burial information in BillionGraves Index

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching a nearby locality
  • Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of California.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

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:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.