Monday, June 11, 2012


Death certificates can provide you with names of parents.  If possible, obtain the death certificates for all children of an ancestor, even though the siblings are not your direct line.  Compare the names of parents on the certificates of all siblings.

Sisters Sarah and Mary Cook died of pneumonia in Whippany 10 days apart in 1885.  Their death certificates are consecutive.  Although they were in their 70s, the informant was able to provide the full names of both parents.  This information is consistent on both death certificates.

Sisters Elizabeth Terry and Sarah Scott died ten years apart in Jersey City in 1886 and 1896.  On the death certificates, the names of their parents are not identical.  The names of the parents on Sarah's death certificate are consistent with other documentation.


  1. Hi! Interesting blog you’ve got here. (I’ve never really seen anyone concerned as much with DNA before!) I’ve been growing more of an intrigue with genealogy lately, and I stumbled across your blog. I was wondering how you go about obtaining these death certificates. Can you order them online? I’ve heard of others using a website called VitalChek are you familiar with it? What’s your method?

  2. If you are going to only order a few certficates, VitalChek is a fast and easy method. For extensive genealogy research in a particular area, it may be less expensive and more productive to find a different method, if possible.
    New Jersey vital records are not online! You can order certificates through the mail for the years 1901 to the present (if closely related) from the Department of Health and for the year 1900 and earlier from the Archives. The Archives is in Trenton and holds more recent years, but they will not copy for you past the year 1900. You can find online indexes of varying degrees of reliability, but remember that these are not the actual records! You can pay a private individual to copy certificates for you from the Archives. The cause of death will not be blocked this way, which is another annoying thing that New Jersey does to hinder research.
    Lexis Nexis owns VitalChek. Lexis Nexis offers lots of databases of use to attorneys (as well as genealogists), such as criminal convictions, liens, taxes, voter registrations, newspaper notices, and on and on. That is one part of law school that I miss. (The other part is being located next to the Newark Public Library.)

  3. Thank you for all the information and advice; you're so knowledgeable! I hope I can master my new hobby as well as you have.

    (I'm not quite sure why my comment won't let me sign in with my Yahoo account, but this is Rachel)