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How to Find Death Records in Massachusetts?

Death records were being maintained in Massachusetts towns right from the 1600s, however, it was only in 1841 that statewide registration began. In fact, Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to start statewide registration of vital records like death, birth and marriage records. The city of Boston used to maintain records prior to 1841 and they did not report the vital statistics to the state of Massachusetts until 1850. So the records during these years might have some missing details. The Massachusetts Archives has records from 1841 to 1925 and every year records of five years are transferred from the Vital Records department to the Archives.

Massachusetts ranks quite high when it comes to maintaining vital records. The state has some records that date back to colonial days as well. When Massachusetts death records maintenance just started, they used to be kept at the town level. In 1841, the towns started sending copies of their records to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Most towns complied with this requirement, resulting in the state has quite a comprehensive database of public death records Massachusetts along with other public records like marriage and birth certificates. So if you are wondering how to find death records in Massachusetts, it should be no trouble given the vast database the state has maintained.

Massachusetts Death Records

Massachusetts public death records

As per the Freedom of Information Act, even an average citizen is allowed to obtain death records in Massachusetts. As a citizen of Massachusetts, you have the right to view death records of near and dear ones if you wish to. There are various reasons why you might need the death records of a loved one years after their passing. It may be to take care of legal matters pertaining to the deceased. Or you may need to take care of real estate deals that concern the deceased.

Death records Massachusetts has a host of information that can prove to be helpful. Some details that you will find in death records are:

  • name of the deceased
  • date and place of death registration
  • marital status
  • gender and color
  • place of death
  • age
  • cause of death
  • place of birth
  • occupation
  • names and birthplaces of parents
Public Death Records Massachusetts

Death records are also important for other matters besides legal dealings. Those researching family history and are conducting genealogy research find the information available on Massachusetts death records to be extremely helpful. There are various online portals where you will be able to find the online death records of your ancestors. Massachusetts death records online can be found using various indexes including the ones available at Ancestry.com and FamilySeacrh.org. You can also access this database – https://www.deathindexes.com/massachusetts/. If you are not able to find the records of your ancestors here, you will have to use substitute records to get details on the place and date of their death. Substitute records are inclusive of church and cemetery records, wills and probates, census data, tax records and so on.

If you are unable to find the records you require on these online databases, you will have to visit the Office of Vital Records which is a division of the Health and Human Services, Massachusetts. You can search through their online database and can request a printed copy of the death records you require. You can also visit the Vital Records office in person and submit an application to get the death records of your ancestors. Make sure you get a certified copy of the death records if you need them for legal purposes. If you need the death records for informational reasons, then a non-certified copy will do.

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