A most important vital record is the official death certificate issued by a state where an individual died. The person may not have lived in that state any length of time, but if they did die for whatever reason with a state’s border, the certificate of death would be issued. However, an obituary in a newspaper could be from another location, the person’s long-time residence, their birthplace or the residence of a relative.
In connection with the Genealogical Society of Utah, the Archives and Records Services of Utah has placed online a great index of death certificates covering from 1904 to 1958. Soon additional years of 1959 to 1861 will be fully indexed. Until then the death certificates for individuals dying during those years is available, but you have to browse the sections, they are not alphabetical yet.
On each certificate it will have the person’s full name, date of death, county where death occurred, decedent’s race and gender, place and date of birth, marital status, occupation, permanent residence, place and date of burial, time of death, chief cause and contributory factors of death, and if relevant, where the person’s illness was contracted and duration of illness. Death certificates most of the time include the names and birthplaces of parents. Such a wealth of information for the family researcher if they had an ancestor passes away in Utah during the first half of the 20th century.
The search box is easy to negotiate. You can place just a surname or a person’s full name; always place the surname first, a comma then the given name in the search box. A reminder; not all full names are known. You may know an ancestor as Dick yet on the certificate the given name of Richard was written. If you know a month, year and maybe even the date of death you can search that way also and see the names that come up. If you also know the county, that will narrow the list.
Putting in the date of May 17, 1910 produced 11 names. Once you select an individual (click on the name), some basic information is available; name, sex and county. Then you can click on an image of the certificate and enlarge it to read it easier. Another option is for a printable version so you can make a hard copy.
An added item for Utah death certificates was that after 1919 these certificates indicated whether an autopsy had been performed along with information about immediate surgical history prior to death. If a person died of a violent death, including accidents, homicides or suicides; those were added after 1935. After 1940 there was information relating to the person being a veteran and their social security number. The Utah certificates are arranged chronologically by year and alphabetically by county.
The online site also has military death certificates located at the bottom of the page for those citizens and their family’s who lived in Utah. Many of these are the soldiers from Utah who died 1941 to 1953 during World War II or Korean War overseas. This can be especially useful information for the family tree.