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HIST170 (Duggan) Class Guide: Vital Records

Plagues and Peoples in Human History

Vital Records


Vital statistics records consist of births, marriages, and deaths (BMD). Records are sealed for a designated time period to insure the privacy of the individuals. Many records are sealed for 72 years.

Nationally, states did not require keeping vital statistics until the 1910s to 1920s.

Vital Records in the United States

Vital Records in Delaware

Delaware required recording of vital statistics in 1913, though towns or counties kept records before then. In Delaware, most historical vital records are kept at the Delaware Public Archives (DPA). Some of these records have been digitized.

Ancestry Library Edition Sample Search

Searching for Hannah Prince, born 1841. Died in Delaware.

On Ancestry Library Edition homepage, find the box "Search Vitals" and click "Search Now."


In the results list, select the Hannah Prince in the record collection: Delaware Death Records, 1861-1933.

Searching Death Certificates and Other Death Records

Specialized Resource: Mortality Schedules

Mortality Schedules (U.S. Census)

Taken in Census years: 1850-1880. Every 10 years, at the time when the Census was conducted. Note: they only cover the 12 months preceding the Census. Information: name of person, county and state where died. Age, sex, month of death, state of birth, cause of death, occupation. Note: not all states and years have been digitized.

"Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records, A Genealogy Guide" Sample Search

Searching for Robert Coleman, died in Florida in 1922.

Select Florida. Select "Florida Death Records Index 1877-1939 from FamilySearch"

Search first and last names; scan the results list until you find a Robert Coleman who died in 1922.


Note: FamilySearch requires free registration.

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