In my journey of Genealogy in the Recession, I use a lot of websites that are free. I always used many of them, of course, but I relied most heavily on subscription sites. My posts about Genealogy with No Budget, free websites and links to websites are among the most popular — I guess there are quite a few people looking to save money but continue to research and write their family histories. So here are a few more of the websites I turn to often.
This is the website I search first to — surprise — find a grave. There are several other sites, but this one has been around a long time and often has what I need, including, dates, a photo if I’m lucky, and sometimes obituaries, death notices and more, plus information about the cemetery. I always double check all of this information, though. Often it is unsourced, and as we all know, death certificates are sometimes wrong (darn, those sons-in-law!) and I’ve found a surprising number of gravestones with incorrect dates. It’s often a good place to start looking for a death date, however, and then you can search for a death certificate or social security record.
Missouri Death Certificates
One of the free databases on the Missouri Secretary of State website, Missouri Death Certificates is one of the best resources on the internet. If you are lucky enough to have ancestors/relatives who died in Missouri between 1910 and 1961 (currently), you will definitely want to bookmark this site.
I have found Advanced Search best. Because names may have alternate spellings, make full use of the options “starts with,” “ends with” and “contains.” I have sometimes resorted to searching individual years, with or without a county, in really tough cases. You may need to try just the first or last name (I hope you’re not searching for Mary Jones or John Smith). I have found death certificates for Mrs. X X — her first name was not mentioned anywhere!
Remember when searching death certificates that the individual may have died in a hospital, which could have been in one of the big cities rather than within their home county. Note that even though Saint Louis is an independent city, searching St Louis county does return results for both city and county. I have often been very glad for that.
Other online Death Certificates
FamilySearch has many Death records, some only indexes, some images. Here is a list of Birth, Marriage and Death Collections by state. No further collection filters are available so you have to look for the death records; those with images have a picture of a camera next to them but not all of these are certificates. Be sure to check out collections for states you are interested in as there are some browsable collections (no index) and new information is added all the time. Here are some with images.
FamilySearch also has the U.S. Social Security Index online. “Name index to deaths recorded by the Social Security Administration beginning in 1962. Current as of May 31, 2012” (as of this writing). They say there are also a few from 1937 to 1961.
New York City Death Records Search, 1891-1948
This database from Italian Genealogical Group is an index only, but it may have information that you can use.
This list is not exhaustive, of course, but I’ve found it very useful in my research. If there are websites that you would recommend, please add them here in a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org