Pennsylvania death certificates covering the 1906-1924 time frame were released online yesterday at Ancestry.com. Scanned in full color, they are available to Ancestry subscribers, and to Pennsylvania residents for no charge.
I am looking for the death certificate for one Peter Whitlock, a Civil War soldier who ties into my own New Jersey Carson line. He died in 1908 from lockjaw, possibly in Union County, Pennsylvania. I entered that information into the search form, and got zero hits.
I had an exact date of death for Peter Whitlock, so I decided to browse the collection instead. Fortunately, this collection can be browsed by year, and is arranged in order by certificate number.
I searched for roughly 30 minutes without finding his death certificate. From what I can tell, the certificates are batched as received by the state, so you might find a number of Luzerne County certificates, followed by those of another county, with more Luzerne County certificates after that. There were plenty of other death certificates I was interested in, so I quickly got lost in those for a time.
I decided to tackle this again today after speaking with a friend, who reminded me that the death certificate indices are online in a separate database. I quickly found the link to the indices at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Drilling down by year and then by the letter of the alphabet yielded a PDF file, which did not seem to be searchable. Nonetheless, I did find the correct page for Peter Whitlock’s entry.
The entry reads as follows:
Whitlock, Peter: 59352: Fayette Co.: June 25
The number 59352 following his name is the “State File Number” needed to locate the certificate on Ancestry. Further down on the Ancestry search form is an area that permits one to search by certificate number. I typed 59352 in the data field, and then checked the box to do an exact search.
This time, I received a total of 19 hits, which does seem a bit odd. The last entry on this list of results is the one of interest to me.
The reason I was initially unsuccessful in my search was likely because Peter Whitlock’s last name was indexed in this collection as WHITTOCK. Clicking the View Images icon on the right led me to the digitized death certificate.
Good luck researching in this incredible new record set!
[Last modified: 24 Jan 2018, to update link]