Sep 10, 2012

Death Records: Great News for Pennsylvania Researchers!

 PA Death Records Will Be Online--Happy Dance Time!

 On December 15, 2011 the governor of Pennsylvania signed Senate Bill 361 which provides public access to PA death and birth records.  This was a long time coming and reason enough to make all researchers happy.  Previously you had to know the date of death and send for the actual certificate to obtain the information.  I had heard it was taking up to six months to get the certificates and at about $10 per copy was expensive if you had many to request.

The state put the index on line when this Bill was signed into law.  But it was by year and has a very complicated indexing system (NOT alphabetical).  Again not much help if you had no idea of the death year.

But as of the end of August 2012 these records are being scanned by  They will be made available as each year is completed.  You will be able to search by name and other criteria.

Of course you will need a subscription to to access the data.  However after three years they will be made available on the state website for free.  Birth records will be available back to 105 years after the date of birth; death records 50 years after the date of death.

Many times Ancestry offers certain database indexes for free, although there is no way to tell if this might be one of them.  However they do offer trial periods for free, usually 2 weeks, which you can take advantage of if you have a list of people to search.  Here is the announcement (need to scroll down some) on the state website PA State Announcement.

This news most certainly made me do a happy dance.  I was jumping up and down and my daughter said "Did we win the lottery?"  She was quite disappointed to hear my excitement was over "dead people".  I feel this may finally be my chance to find the death date and burial place of my great grandfather Eugene Ellsworth Lammy, my biggest brick wall.  Of course only if he actually died in PA, using the Lammay name.

It is still unclear to me whether the entire scanned image will be available to view like it is for many other states online.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that will be the case.  But any information online will be a great help to myself and other PA genealogists.  Here is a link to the forums where a discussion has been going on about these records and it is where I learned this great news.  Death Record Discussion


  1. This is exciting. I just wish FamilySearch was going to be the provider instead of Ancestry. Thanks for sharing the info.

    1. I agree--they would be free to all on FamilySearch. FamilySearch does have Pittsburgh, PA death records from 1870 to 1905. But it is only "City Deaths" and it is not complete, probably because I don't think it was required before 1906 so there are people missing.

  2. Ravenswik this is really A very good news for the researcher. The availability and accessibility of death records is very helpful for them. Your post is extremely precious.