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Found the death certificate, now what?


By Robin Foster

Where should you look after finding your ancestor's death certificate? It can be difficult to discern how to use the clues that you find. Apply the following ideas gleaned from the death certificate on the left to discover more about your ancestor.

1. Search for Charles Arnold on the census in 1920, 1910, 1900, 1880, and 1870. Perhaps you will be able to find him living with his wife and children then with his parents and siblings as you move back each census year.

2. Record the names of Charles' children and siblings that you find on the census. Research them forward to the 1940 Census to see what you can learn about their families.

3. Check death records and the Social Security Death Index for children or siblings who are no longer living. Look for an extended family that you do not find on a death record on the US Public Records Index on Contact those you find to see what they remember about your ancestors.

4. Research the cemetery for other relatives who may have been buried in the same place.

5. Check the funeral home mentioned on the death certificate to see if they have any records that might help you learn more about Charles or family members who may have made funeral arrangements.

6. Research the informant to see how that person may have been related to Charles.

7. Check probate records for Charles to see if he may have left a will or if his estate was inventoried or if administrators were appointed.

8. Check to see if a newspaper obituary exists.

9. Check the grantor or grantee deed index to see if Charles owned land.

You may have not realized that a simple death certificate could lead you to so many additional resources. What did you learn from your ancestor's death certificate?

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