Posted by Amy Johnson Crow on January 25, 2016 in Collections

Arthur Amson of St. Louis, Missouri was a student of philology at the University of Leipsic in Germany. He died there on July 7, 1875. While we commonly think about “traditional” death records, there is a special group of records created for Americans who died abroad.


United States consulates are to report the deaths of American citizens in their districts. These reports are compiled by the U.S. Department of State. The newly-updated collection Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974 contains digital images of these records.

The early records, such as the one for Arthur Amson, contain basic information such as the person’s name, date and place of death, and sometimes age and U.S. residence.

When you’re looking at the early records, it’s a good idea to scroll forward and backward to see if there is information on the previous or next page. Such is the case with Henry Weimer, who died “on the 8th of September 1881 at No. 90 Remburg Strasse Stuttgart.” The death record itself doesn’t give any more information about Weimer. However, the page before is a notice to the publisher of the Auburn Argus of Placer County, California, to publish a notice of Weimer’s death. This would indicate that Weimer had some connections with Placer County.

Later death records are much more detailed. Poet Ezra Pound died in Italy on November 1, 1972. His record lists his date and place of birth, occupation, cause of death, burial information, and the name and address of his wife and son. It also lists that he was residing abroad with Miss Olga Rudge, listed as “friend.”

Portion of Ezra Pound’s death report. (His son Omar is listed further down on the page.)

Note: The U.S. Department of State did not record the deaths of Americans who were on active military duty, nor the deaths of people whose citizenship status was unknown. For information about servicemen and servicewomen, explore the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, the U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925-1963, and U.S. Headstone and Interment Records for Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942-1949.

Amy Johnson Crow

Amy Johnson Crow is a Certified Genealogist and an active lecturer and author. Her roots run deep in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. She earned her Masters degree in Library and Information Science at Kent State University. Amy loves to help people discover the joys of learning about their ancestors and she thinks that there are few things better than a day in a cemetery. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Amy Johnson Crow.


  1. sheila fuller

    I am just wondering does this site really in truly helps u find your love ones and your ancestry I would really like to find more of my family and where I truly come from and rather I am mixed with another race!

  2. Jude Sweeney

    Does anyone know if a site like this exists for British Citizens that died abroad? My great-grandfather was a british citizen who died in Chile in the early 1900’s or late 1890’s.

  3. Janice

    What is the best way to search these records? I searched for a great uncle who died in England in 1898 (was born in Illinois) and got no results. Thanks. And to sheila fuller, I would say “Yes” – Ancestry is the best place to look for your ancestors. You may also want to do a DNA test.

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