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Searching for death records in Franklin County in the state of Pennsylvania

There are several reasons why people might want to search for death records in Franklin County or anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania; if you are researching your family tree, historic death records can help; you might need a copy of a relative’s death certificate in order to prove they have passed away for legal reasons; perhaps you suspect someone is not who they say they are and that they have possibly even taken on someone else’s identity; finally, you might be trying to find a missing friend or loved one, and death records are, unfortunately, one place where you might find their name.

The last three reasons all involve researching the more recent death records and certificates which are maintained and kept by the Franklin County Clerk’s office or the office of the Registrar Recorder. These are the two organizations that are responsible for all of our vital personal records, such as births, marriages and deaths. In some parts of the state of Pennsylvania and in the rest of the US, there are other offices that also maintain birth and death records from a public health point of view. There may be some restrictions on what information you can see in the death records either in the archives at the Franklin County Clerk’s or Registrar Recorder’s offices or on their websites, unless you are a relative of the deceased, their legal representative or someone, such as a medical professional or care home worker, who was named on the certificate itself. These restrictions can often lift after a certain amount of time, making it easier for genealogy researchers to find information about people who died decades ago, than for you to find details about the death of a friend last week!

If you are trying to trace a missing friend or relative, and have not been able to track them down through other public records, then it might be time to try looking through Franklin County’s death records, even though it might be upsetting to accept this. Sometimes people have important news for relatives that they have lost touch with, and they only manage to find them by checking local death certificates. Although the original documents are all still kept in archives at the Franklin County Clerk’s office or the local office of the Registrar Recorder, most modern ones, even going as far back as around the 1960s or 1970s have now been transferred onto computer databases, making it easier to search for these documents online. Of course, searching the Franklin County records only works if you know that the person died in Franklin County. If it is a missing friend or relative that you are looking for, you could have no idea where they passed away.

Luckily, there are commercial search websites that have collected information on US death records from many different sources and from across Franklin County, the state of Pennsylvania and the whole country. Once you have exhausted your local options, you can use one of these fee-based sites to search further. You will usually only have to pay a fee if you want to see all the information connected with any of the search results and most operate on a “no result, no fee” basis. Make sure you check the small print of these sites before choosing to use one for your search.

These sites can also be useful if you are researching relatives who lived in Franklin County a long time ago, but you yourself live outside of the state of Pennsylvania. If the documents you are looking for are too old and have not yet been put onto the computer systems used by the commercial sites, or the websites of the Franklin County Clerk and Registrar Recorder’s offices, then you can always contact archive staff and have them do the search for you; though you will have to pay a small fee and may have to wait a while for your results.

Another way to track down details about local deaths is by searching the archives of local newspapers in Franklin County. Many friends and relatives place death notices in the local press and you can search for these on the publication’s website or in their archives. If the newspaper no longer exists, archive copies can probably be found in the Franklin County libraries.