Search Pennsylvania Death Records
Searching for death records in the state of Pennsylvania
Death records are maintained in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the US by the local County Clerk or Registrar Recorder. This is the office that maintains all your personal records and the place that you must report births, deaths and marriages to, in order for them to be properly documented. There are other organizations that maintain their own death records, but these are sometimes not as comprehensive as those maintained by the offices of the County Clerk or Registrar Recorder in . However, these other sources can be very useful if you are searching the records to see if someone has passed away as they are very user-friendly and the information available is clear and open.
Some of the information on death records can be hidden from members of the public unless you were related to the person who died, were one of their legal representatives or were one of the people involved in the reporting of the death, such as medical or home care staff. Otherwise, you might not be able to see all the information available included in death records and death certificates, such as cause of death and names of any surviving relatives. If you are just trying to find out if a missing relative or friend has died, then a list of death records for people with their name and their date of birth should be enough to do the job; you shouldn’t need to know any of the details to be able to identify if the person you are looking for has, in fact, passed away. Most County Clerk or Registrar Recorder’s offices have their own archives where you can search through historical records, especially useful if you are researching your family history, while many nowadays even have their own websites with basic search functions. These are useful if you live outside of the state of Pennsylvania and are trying to track down someone you think may have died. If the record is older, and perhaps not yet transferred to the computer system, then it might not show up on one of these online searches. In these cases, the staff at the County Clerk and Registrar Recorder’s offices in the state of Pennsylvania can carry out searches of death records on your behalf if you send a request by email, mail or telephone. Of course, these are busy people who might take several weeks to get to your request as well as charge you a standard fee for the search no matter what results they find.
Commercial online search sites will also charge you a fee for being able to access their large computer databases of information from across the US, but they have many advantages over waiting for the staff in to carry out the search for you; first of all, the search is likely to be much quicker; secondly, most of these sites will not charge you if no records are found or if you only want to see a brief list of matching records rather than any of the detailed documents themselves. Finally, most of these sites are national, and contain information from across the US, not just from the state of Pennsylvania. This is especially useful if you are unsure where someone may have died. Once you have checked local records in , you can always try a wider search to see if you get any hits on the name you are looking for.
In each state, including Pennsylvania, you can also use the SSDI or Social Security Death Index, to search for people who have died and whose deaths have been reported to the federal social security agency. Once a death has been reported to this organization it means they no longer continue receiving benefits; the data they have is pretty accurate, but there are always some relatives who will forget to report the death to this additional level of bureaucracy, while some may even withhold the information for a period of time for fraudulent reasons. It is a very simple and clear tool to use, but it should be combined with local searches within the state of Pennsylvania to make sure the information you have is as comprehensive as popular.
Local newspapers often announce deaths, and many of the local papers in the state of Pennsylvania now have their own websites, making it relatively easy to search for these kinds of stories. You might even find information in these announcements that are supposedly hidden from the general public in the official death records! Local libraries in will have paper copies of older newspapers on file if you are researching your family tree or looking into older cases.