How to Find Tennessee Death Records

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Statewide registration of deaths began in 1914 in Tennessee with general compliance by 1936. Counties have copies of these records.

Next Step: When did the death occur? [edit | edit source]

Choose a time period to search for your ancestor's death record:

Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1872[edit | edit source]

Before 1872, no deaths were recorded by the county or state. You must search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place.

  Records that give death information:
Cemetery Records
Newspapers
Probate (wills, etc)
Church Records
Census
Bible Records
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1872 thru 1908[edit | edit source]

In 1872, some Tennessee counties and cities began recording deaths. Records are incomplete.

If you cannot locate your ancestor in the databases below try searching for death information in other records.

For deaths that exist during the time period, try the following databases. Try each link.

Tennessee Deaths Databases - Includes Index and Digital Images
Try 1st:

1872-1923 - use your Ancestry subscription ($) Free at family history centers. Covers Nashville (beginning in 1874), Knoxville (beginning in 1881), Chattanooga (beginning in 1872), and Memphis (beginning in 1848)
Try 2nd:

1874-1955 - At FamilySearch.org Free; incomplete; dates vary by county; coverage information
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

Death records from as early as 1848 to 1908 are available on microfilm for some Tennessee cities (such as Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville) through the Family History Library, see Tennessee Death Records.

Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1908 thru 1912[edit | edit source]

Most Tennessee counties began recording deaths in 1908.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information[edit | edit source]

For deaths that exist during this time period, try the following databases. Try each link.

Tennessee Deaths Databases - Includes Index and Digital Images
Try 1st:

1908-1958 - At Ancestry.com ($) Free at family history centers
Try 2nd:
1908-1912 - At Tennessee State Library and Archives Free; index only
Try 3rd:
1874-1955 - At FamilySearch.org Free; incomplete; dates vary by county; coverage information
Can't search the index listed above? Go to Step Two listed below and order a search for your ancestor from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate[edit | edit source]

If the image was not included in the index entry above, you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

If you do not know the exact date or place of death:
The Tennessee State Library and Archives will do a 3-year search for free.

There are no restrictions on these records.

Death certificates from 1908 to 1912 are available on microfilm through the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Family History Library: FHL film 338140.

If you do not want to order the death record, there are other records with death information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1914 to the present[edit | edit source]

The state of Tennessee began recording deaths in 1914.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information[edit | edit source]

Tennessee Deaths Databases - Includes Index and Digital Images
Try 1st:
1914-1963 - At FamilySearch.org Free; index and images
Try 2nd:

1908-1958 - At Ancestry.com ($) Free at family history centers; index and images
Try 3rd:
1874-1955 - At FamilySearch.org Free; index only
Try 4th:
1914-1933 - At Tennessee State Library and Archives Free; index only
Try 5th:
1908-1933 - At MyHeritage.com Free; index only
OR try

Can't search the index listed above?

Go to Step Two listed below and order a search for your ancestor from the Tennessee Department of Health State Office.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate[edit | edit source]

With an exact date (from your records or the index above), you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the following locations:

To Order Death Certificates
From County of Death From TN Dept. of Health State office
Pros Cons Pros Cons
May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state County websites can be more difficult to use Offers a search of the state index for an additional fee May be more expensive than ordering from the county

If you do not know the exact date or place of death:
For a fee, the Tennessee Department of Health office will search multiple years for the death certificate.

Restrictions for persons born who died within the last 50 years:
To obtain a copy of the death certificate for those who died within the last 50 years, you must be:

  • Certain family members of the person on the certificate
NOTE: A copy of the death record cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above until 50 years have passed from the date of the death.

Death certificates from 1914 to 1962 (including an index) are available on microfilm through the Family History Library: FHL film 1299605 (1st of 786 films).

If you do not want to order the death record, there are other records with death information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another death year


Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]