Saturday, June 21, 2014

Update on Ordering Pennsylvania Death Certificates

Last week I ordered six non-certified death certificates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  Today, my requests and check were returned to me with this notice. . .
. . . telling me that I need to reorder the death certificates from the Pennsylvania State Archives.  This seems to be a retroactive statement because I've been ordering certificates from the Department of Health since they first became available a year or so ago.

It's true that has Pennsylvania death certificates but as of the date of this post their collection goes from 1906 to 1924.  No doubt they'll be adding more but I haven't heard the timeline for those additions and I'm impatient.

Until Ancestry has the 1925-1963 death certificates online, this is what you need to know to order Pennsylvania death certificates.
  1. Print a mail order form for non-certified copies of death certificates from the Pennsylvania State Archives.  You can order up to 5 certificates with one form.
  2. Use the Death Index at the Pennsylvania Department of Health website to find the death date and certificate number.  (You'll need to know the year unless you want to search through several years.)
  3. Fill out the form with the name of the individual as it appears in the index, the date of death, and the certificate number.
  4. Write a check or money order for $5.00 per certificate, made payable to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  5. Send the envelope with the completed request form and check to Pennsylvania State Archives, ATTN:  Vital Statistics, 350 North Street, Harrisburg, PA  17120-0090.

I don't know about you but I love using death certificates in my research.  While not primary source documents for most of the information, they often contain plenty of accurate information and at the very least give hints or suggestions for further research.


© 2014 Copyright by Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.


  1. The death certificates from 1924 through 1944 are to be added in June, no date given. The rest through 1962 or so will be added in November. All the PA people are waiting with anticipatory joy...

    1. Thanks for the update, Claudia! I just wish I weren't so impatient!

  2. I wish Virginia offered non-certified copies. We pay $12 and if they can't find a record, they keep the $12 just the same, for the time spent searching, I guess.


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