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Death Certificates, 1897 – 1952

How do I search this collection?

You can search this collection by the deceased’s last name, first name, county, city, date of death, age, father’s first name, father’s last name, mother’s first name, and deceased mother’s last name.

Names

You can search for individuals in this collection in the deceased first name, deceased last name, father’s first name, father’s last name, mother’s first name, and mother’s last name fields.

If the name you are searching for has alternate spellings or if you are unsure of the correct spelling, use a question mark (?) at the exact spot where you are unsure of the spelling. The search results will include all results with all letters available for that single spot. For example, using “sm?the” would return results for both smithe and smythe.

If you want results for different variations of a name, use an asterisk (*) at the end of the term where spelling starts to vary. This type of search is called a truncation search. The results will include all results with the exact spelling up to the asterisk (*), and results with any additional letters after the exact spelling. For example, searching for “Smi*” will return results for Smith, Smithe, Smythe, and other words that begin with “Smi”.

County or City

You can search for records by county or city. Fill in the place name, such as “Barry” or “Detroit” in the appropriate field.

Death Range

You can search for a death record by date using the “Death Range” field. Whether searching for a year or a day, select the day before and after your timeframe. For example, if searching for 1904, select 12/31/1903 and 01/01/1905.

Age of Deceased

You can search by the age of the deceased. Only use whole numbers in this field.

What information can I find in this collection?

TThis collection consists of approximately 1.6 million death records created between 1921 and 1952. Records created between 1921 and 1948 include an image of the death certificate. Records from 1949-1952 are index-only. If you’re doing genealogy research, you might use these records to fill in gaps in your family history. You can find out where ancestors are buried, and even where some ancestors are born if they’re listed on a death certificate as someone’s parent. Effective in 1898, the following information was collected on death certificates:

  • Date of death
  • First and last name of deceased
  • Whether married, single, widowed, or divorced
  • Age in years, months and days
  • Place of death
  • Disease or apparent cause of death
  • Nativity of the deceased
  • Occupation, if over 10 years of age
  • If under that age, the names and residence of the parents, if known
  • Date of record
  • If married, age at first marriage
  • Parent of how many children
  • How many children are living
  • Birthplace (state or country if not born in Michigan)
  • Full names of both parents
  • Birthplaces of both parents
  • Proposed place and time of burial
  • Signature and address of reporter certifying above facts
  • Signature and address of undertaker

How do I browse this collection?

Browse the collection

This collection is organized first by year, then by county, then alphabetical ranges of surnames (i.e. A-M). If a search of this collection does not turn up results, we suggest you first consider the likely year of death. Then select the likely county within that year. Once you are in the county, select alphabetic range for the last name you are researching.

Alternatively, once you select a year or a county you can use the “Search within… Folder” button.

What is the story behind this collection?

Public Act 194 of 1867 required county clerks to file certain facts about all deaths recorded in their counties with the Secretary of State. (The information was later collected by the Department of Public Health and is now collected by the Department of Health and Human Services.)

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