Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Jersey Death Certificates available through 1955

The New Jersey State Archives has added death certificates through 1955 to its collection, expanding on the recent addition of years 1941-1946.


The certificates for some years are in alphabetical order, while others are organized by an assigned file number.  An index exists to discover the number.  The index contains the month, but not day, of death.  The place of residence and place of death are also listed by code.

Index for Deaths in New Jersey in 1955
Durham through Dvorak
Copied from microfilm at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton

As with any index, watch for errors.

Index entry for Ellen Duryea, nee Byard, misspelled DURYRA.
She died 5 February 1955 in Jersey City.

The addition of these years is most welcome for two reasons.  First, searching for a record yourself can be faster and more accurate.  Second, New Jersey has a pesky "habit" of blocking the cause of death in official copies.  There are supposed exceptions to this rule, but I can attest from my ordering history that this rule is not consistently followed.  For those of you who feel the need to know what ailments caused the demise of your ancestors, blocking the cause of death thwarts your efforts to know your family's medical history.  For others, the blocked area makes for an unappealing copy.

Death certificate for Clara Lutter, nee Uhl, died 5 April 1955 in Newark.
Obtained through the Department of Health and Senior Services.
The cause of death is blocked, even though I am a direct descendant with the same last name.
Same death certificate obtained at the Archives, enabling the cause of death to be known.
She died of a kidney failure, which is not unusual in a ninety year old.
More intriguing is why the family had her autopsied.