West Virginia Deaths - FamilySearch Historical Records

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West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
West Virginia, 
United States
West Virginia flag.png
Flag of West Virginia
US Locator West Virginia.png
Location of West Virginia
Record Description
Record Type Death
Collection years 1804-1999
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
County Courthouses, West Virginia


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

The collection consists of name indexes of West Virginia statewide and county death records. The statewide death index covers years 1917-1956 and includes all 55 West Virginia counties. The county deaths index covers years 1853-1970. Data is searchable for all state and county records. However, records within each county may not be available for the full year range.

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, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

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

The following information may be found in these records:

Death

  • Name of deceased
  • Gender and age of deceased in years, months and days
  • Death date and place
  • Cause of death
  • Color or race
  • Marital status
  • Birthplace of deceased
  • Parents’ names of deceased
  • Birthplace of parents
  • Occupation of deceased
  • Name of informant (sometimes, includes relationship to deceased)

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Death entries were recorded in pre-printed register books containing many entries per page beginning in 1853. Earlier records were handwritten. They were usually typewritten by 1930. After 1917, death records were submitted to the state on individual certificates, while registers were maintained in the counties.

Clerks of each County Court recorded deaths beginning in 1853, when West Virginia was part of Virginia. West Virginia began collecting deaths from the counties in 1917. Most deaths in the counties were recorded because of the legal requirement for registration.

The state required counties to begin recording deaths to track public health issues. The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the death occurred are quite reliable, though there is the chance of misinformation. Other data, such as date and place of birth, have more chance of error due to the lack of knowledge of the informant, transcription errors, and other circumstances.

The State of West Virginia has death certificates for 1917 through 1973 at West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston, West Virginia. The original county records are generally located in the courthouse for each county.

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

To use these records it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the person at the time of death
  • Other identifying information such as the approximate death date or the place where the death occurred

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting 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

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]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use the names along with the place to find the family in census records
  • Use the residence and names of the parents (if the deceased is a child) to locate church and land records
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the deceased who may have died or been buried in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
  • The information in these records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

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

Known Issues[edit | edit source]

Click here for a list of known issues with this collection.

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.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.