Article on Push for Pennsylvania Death Index

I was browsing news online this morning and found an interesting article by James Beidler on a push to widen access to death records in Pennsylvania through the creation of a public index. They are asking that proponents contact Pennsylvania state legislators and let them know. You can read more of Jim’s article and find links to legislators on the Lebanon Daily News website.

I for one, hope that the push is successful since much of my husband’s family research is in Pennsylvania!

10 thoughts on “Article on Push for Pennsylvania Death Index

  1. Thank you for working on this! It’s funny how arbitrary things are. I don’t live in Pennsylvania any more, so it would not be easy to visit archives in person. I don’t know what year my great-grandmother died so I had to request her brothers’ death certificates but not hers. The good news is that Vital Records did release the certificates to me; the bad news is that I still don’t know when my great-grandmother died. On the other hand, Pennsylvania is one of the few states with naturalization records published on — not just the index but the actual documents — that’s a wonderful and rich source of data if you’re willing to pay for a subscription to Footnote. Is anybody working on trying to get Pittsburgh Press/Post-Gazette obituaries online?

  2. I too am a transplanted Pennsylvanian and find it difficult as I am acting as the genealogist for the Gardner family history. Therefore, I cannot request certificates according to PA guidelines. This is my husband’s ancestors and he is now deceased. Of course, the information they want, is what I am seeking.

    Also, I think the Counties should do the same with the real old information specifically Fayette, Washington, Alleghey etc. I am 76 years, can’t get back to PA much to search and when I tried Fayette Co. I could not lift those heavy books and have no one to help me.

    If there is ever a fire, all would be lost so why not share it with the family historians. After all it’s the 21st Century.

    I have seen Kentucky’s information and I would like to move our people to KY!

    Berks County had a lot of good information online too and I was able to get Wills from them.

    I wish you great success in this endeavor.

  3. Illinois is another state that has crazy vital statistics laws.. The Illinois death index has to be 50 years old but the SSDI gives upto date death information.There is a gap in the index of about 15 years form the avaialable state index to the bottom of the SSDI. A death date which can be used to get Obituary’s by InterLibraryLoan services. Cost less than the certificate. Don

  4. Boy it would be great to have that death index as I live in TX now and am stuck with relatives who died in PA about 1800.

  5. Hi Peggie,

    Sorry to disappoint you, but STATE death records in Pennsylvania were only required beginning in 1906; and this grassroots effort to get STATE death records released would only affect those from 1906 to 1958 (a 50-yr privacy allotment to 2008) . Full information on this push can be found at While there, be sure to download, fill out, and send in a letter or petition to Governor Rendell of PA (or write your own!), to do your part to join the grassroots effort. YOU CAN join in whether you’re a resident of PA or “just” a descendant of PA ancestors!

    Re: earlier record, some counties/cities attempted earlier local record keeping; so check those resources. Most (I think) were in the latter half of the 1800s. Earlier death records are most likely found as church burial records; Bible entries; family records; or perhaps, if you’re lucky, a newspaper notification or article.


  6. Oops, I see that this blog will not publish URLs. So do a google search on “PaHR-Access” and if that doesn’t work, the man who is spokesman for PaHR-Access is “Tim Gruber”. Try that!


  7. I, too, would like to see these records made available via internet. My family goes back to the mid-1700s in PA and I still have relatives in the Lancaster, Strasburg area. Thanks for your efforts.

  8. To be able to find more about my Kreider/Krider/Crider Pennsylvania relatives records online would be very helpful.

  9. Don’s comment about Illinois laws being as nonsensical as Pennsylvania’s rang true for me. Those are the two states I do most research in. It’s so frustrating to have to jump through hoops for no reason when there’s a better, easier, more efficient way available. I wish they’d look at how other states are handling records and realize how far behind the times they are in this regard.

  10. If privacy laws are a problem-could the law be just changed a bit, to just put name, birth date, death date, and maybe last location-I saw in the internet once that a mother and daughter were trying to find their son/brother, missing for 10 years-I looked up the name in and found that he had died in California-if the California death index wasn’t available online, they may have never known-I wonder how many times this happens…

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