Thursday, December 13, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Washington Death Index

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy

Week #50 – Genealogy Database

Week 50: Genealogy Database. Which individual database has been most helpful in your genealogy research and why? Is this database available for free or is it behind a subscription wall? What does this database include and how can it benefit other genealogy researchers?

 I started doing research for others in 1998 and the Washington Death index was one of the databases I used all the time. I was lucky as the library had a microfilm copy, and I was given the old copy from the library. The database was soundexed and then microfilmed, and parts were very hard to read. It was interesting that the copy the library had was easier to read in places than the copy I had.
The death index started in July of 1907, and my copy goes to 2001, the library copy goes to 2004.
The Washington State Digital Archives and Family Search have the death index online for free from July of 1907 through 1960, and even more exciting Family Search has the actual death certificates on microfilm, and the film number is listed in the index on Family Search for each person in the index.

Ancestry also has the Washington Death Index in their pay for view area from 1940 to I think about 2000, I am not sure about the ending date. There seems to be a lot of people missed in the Ancestry database and we have tried to figure out why. I think they missed a bunch of people that died in October, November and December. Most of the deaths list the death month as a number (1-12), but some of the microfilm uses the numbers 1-9 and then the letters O, N, and D. Easy for a human to see this is October, November and December, but when a computer is looking for 10, 11 or 12 and finds O, N, and D it skips those.

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