Alabama Death Records and Death Index

You might be surprised how often genealogists face this set of circumstances. They know when their ancestor was born, when they married, when their children were born but they just can’t confirm when they died.

I have found a fair few instances where the only information missing is a death date and this can be very frustrating. This is why knowing what death records may be available to you can be vital in your research.

It is important to note that one of the biggest issues in finding a death record can be looking in the wrong place. You may be surprised how often people miss records because they are looking in the wrong county and sometimes even the wrong state.

In this post we will be looking at Alabama state death records and indexes to try and help you find those elusive ancestors. So if you are confident that your ancestor likely died in the state of Alabama then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About Alabama

The first alphabetically but the 22nd to earn statehood, Alabama joined the union on December 14th 1819. It is a quintessentially southern state which goes by the nickname “Heart of Dixie." Home to native Americans for over 10,000 years, the first Europeans arrived in the area in the 16th century.

During the first half of the 19th century the state's economy was largely reliant on the cotton growing industry. Slave labor was central to this economy so during the Civil War Alabama was a confederate state.

Measuring 52,420 square miles, Alabama is also known as the Yellowhammer state and the cotton state. Its state motto reads "Audemus jura nostra defendere" (We dare maintain our rights).

Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

All American citizens, naturalized immigrants and resident aliens require a Social Security number for proof of identification and authorization to work. This number follows us throughout our life and when we die this nine digit code is very important.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database of death records that was compiled from the United States Social Security Administration Death Master File. This was until 2014 when the rules changed and public access to the Death Master File had to take place through a certification program.

Those researching the deaths of ancestors in Alabama will likely find that most people who have died between 1936 and 2014 can be found on the Social Security Death Index. This does however only hold true if the person had a Social Security number when they died.

It is estimated that since 1973 the SSDI recorded 93% to 96% of the deaths of individuals aged 65 or over. The index was updated frequently and by June of 2011 there were 89,835,920 records available.

The index can be found on websites such as FamilySearch and Ancestry.com and offers details such as:

  • Given name and surname (middle initial since the 1990s)
  • Date of birth
  • Month and year of death (Full date of death for accounts active after 2000)
  • Social Security number
  • State or territory Social Security number was issued
  • Last place of residence when alive including ZIP code

Click here to search on Ancestry

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

This is more or less an extension of the information you can find from the Social Security Death Index. It has been extracted from the SSDI records but features more details. It does not include all of the names found in the SSDI however but there are at least 49 million names included.

In this record you may find additional information such as:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names if deceased would have to have been over 75 years old when you are viewing the records (may be redacted if under 75)
  • Citizenship status
  • Gender
  • Sometimes race or ethnic group

Click here to search on Ancestry

Alabama Death Index 1908 – 1959

Although county birth and death registrations started in some areas of Alabama as early as 1881 there was not a statewide system until January 1st 1908. The records in this index come from this system and and include details such as:

  • Name of deceased
  • County of death
  • Date of death
  • State certificate number (including volume and page location)

It features transcribed information and no physical images of documentation but can be used to help you order death records through the proper government agencies.

Click here to search on Ancestry

Alabama Death Records Index 1908 – 1974

This index is available through FamilySearch.org and features the death records listed in Alabama between 1908 and 1974. It offers more detail than the Alabama Death Index 1908 – 1959 in that it also mentions parents' information for the deceased.

You can view the index online at the FamilySearch website but to see the images that are attached you need to visit their family History Center in Utah or one of their affiliate libraries. It is however completely free to use most of the records at FamilySearch.

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Alabama, U.S. Wills and Probate Records 1753 – 1999

This is an extensive database of wills and probate records spanning 246 years within Alabama. It includes images of wills and probate records including documents such as inventories, letters of administration and distribution of the deceased’s properties.

The information you may locate in these records include:

  • The name of deceased or testator
  • Year of the event
  • Location of the event
  • Names of heirs (may include spouses, children and other relatives)
  • Sometimes actual date of death

Click here to search on Ancestry

Alabama Estate Files 1830 – 1976

This collection on FamilySearch has almost 2,200,000 images of probate records created by various county court systems in Alabama, some dating back as far as 1830. The content may vary but potentially you can learn certain details through these records including:

  • The name of deceased or testator
  • Year of the event
  • Location of the event
  • Names of heirs (may include spouses, children and other relatives)
  • Sometimes actual date of death

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Alabama Episcopal Church Registers Database 1830s – 1970s

This is a database which features the records of various Episcopal churches in the state of Alabama. It claims to feature birth, marriage and death records for 14,000 people spread between 16 parishes. It covers roughly 140 years of history within those parishes.

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Alabama Coal Mine Fatalities 1898 – 1938

This local database is very specific in terms of death records as it only features ones caused by working in the coal mining history. As this was a large industry at one time however then plenty of individuals may have perished in this manner.

If your ancestor was in the mining industry and you can not locate a death record you may find it here if they met misadventure at work. There are some 2188 death records in the index that have been compiled from annual Alabama mine inspector reports. These reports were between 1898 and 1938

State Specific Databases

As mentioned counties were recording deaths as early as the 1880s so many of them have their own indexes and records that are available to search. Many of them are free although some may require a fee to use.

In the table below you will find the available indexes listed by county:

County Death Index Resources
Bibb
Birmingham
  • See Jefferson County
Dale
Huntsville
  • See Madison County
Jefferson (also Birmingham)
Lauderdale
Lawrence
Madison (Also Huntsville)
Mobile
Montgomery
Shelby
Tuscaloosa
Walker
Winston

Conclusion

There are a vast array of potential death records and indexes that you can use to research your ancestors from the state. Some are locally based while others are part of nationwide databases such as Social Security.

There are more databases than are listed here so a search online may provide even more options. Also remember that especially in areas close to state borders there is always the possibility that your ancestors death could be recorded in a neighboring state.

This holds true at the county level as well so always search in the surrounding counties or states. If you assume their record will only be in one place you can easily miss out on finding that record if they died elsewhere.

Link To or Reference This Page

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  • " Alabama Death Records and Death Index". NameCensus.com. Accessed on October 2, 2022. https://namecensus.com/blog/alabama-death-records-and-death-index/.

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