Alaska 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 Alaska 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 Alaska then read on and hopefully we can help you out.
One of the later states to join the union, Alaska gained statehood on January 3rd 1959. Located in the extreme north west of the North American continent it shares no land borders with any other state but does border Canada.
It is considered a peninsula and as such is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and also due to its western most point is technically in both hemispheres of the planet. The United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867.
Alaska is the largest state by area spanning some 664,988 square miles. With a 2010 population of 710,231 much of which is located within the major cities Alaska has vast areas of unspoiled beauty. Due to this there may be issues locating some death records.
It is a financially prosperous state with industries including fishing, gold mining and oil production.
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
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 be over 75 when you are viewing the records (may be redacted if under 75)
- Citizenship status
- Sometimes race or ethnic group
Alaska Vital Records 1816 – 2005
Alaska has always had that frontier spirit of living free and off the grid which has had a big effect on its vital records. In fact it was not until 1913 that the state started to keep death records so it is often hard to find records prior to this.
The Alaska Vital Records 1816 – 2005 is a steadily growing archive found on FamilySearch with some 72.238 images as of September 2022. These are not all death records however as they also include birth, marriage and divorce in this database as well.
Death records in this database may include details such as:
- Name of the deceased
- Date of death
- Place of death
As mentioned it is a growing database so even if you can not find the record you are seeking at this time consider checking back at a later date.
Alaska Vital Records 1818 – 1963
This is essentially a similar database to the above section but comes through Ancestry instead. It does not cover as many years but does offer the same types of information. You will need a paid subscription to use this database but the FamilySearch one is free.
Alaska Probate Indexes 1884 – 1959
As will become apparent as we move through this article Alaska takes a basic approach to keeping records. This is very much evident in this index which you actually access at the Alaska State Archives website.
Rather than having an online database the website offers downloadable spreadsheets with the indexes all listed. They are listed alphabetically but it may still take you a while to locate the name you are looking for.
Once you locate the correct listing there are details as to where the original records are kept which should allow you to find access to the documents. There are no digital files for the most part but if you can find the right probate records you might be able to get details on the persons, family and their held property.
Alaska Deaths Index Database
This is a database which is available of Alaskaweb.org. They gave drawn the details from various sources and it again is a growing collection. You can search the alphabetized database to try and locate the index listing that pertains to your ancestor.
Once you have the details of the listing you are searching for they also offer contact details that will allow you to obtain death certificates.
Those looking for Vital records from after 1913 should contact
Department of Health and Social Services
Bureau of Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 110675
Juneau. AK 99811-0675
Those seeking earlier records may also enquire at the above contacts but may likely need to seek out the original congregations in the area their ancestor lived.
Anchorage Borough Records
Anchorage is one of the boroughs of Alaska and has several local Death record indexes that may be helpful for those with ancestors from this part of the state.
Anchorage Newspapers Obituary Indexes, 1915 to October 1, 2001
This collection comes from the Anchorage public library and consists of several PDF documents with long columns of obituary listings for various local papers. These listings consist of the name and the date in which the listing appeared in the paper.
If you locate your ancestor in these PDF’s you will likely need to gain access to old copies of these papers to see the actual obituary in question. It can be a time consuming index to use but it is alphabetized so is thankfully easier to search.
Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery Burials
This database is found on the city of Anchorage website and allows you to search for your ancestors name in the list of burials at this major cemetery. If your ancestor is interred in this cemetery there may be some details pertaining to their lives on any headstone they have.
Fairbanks Borough Records
Fairbanks, Alaska Cemetery Records (20th Century)
This is a limited database found on Ancestry so will require a subscription to view. It includes burial records for Clay Street and Birch Hill cemeteries In Fairbanks Alaska. Those with ancestors who may have died in Fairbanks may find them buried in one of these two main cemetery locations.
Juneau Borough Records
Evergreen Cemetery Burials
This collection is located at the Juneau city museum website and features a map and a search capability by name and year of death. If your ancestor lived and likely died in Juneau it is possible they were buried here and you might be able to locate them
Alaska is a state with far more wilderness than civilization which means that record keeping historically has been spotty. Even today there are many people living and dying far off the grid. Death records are not the easiest to lock down on Alaska but there are some options.
Cemeteries in the major boroughs are generally helpful and the vital record availability is gradually growing. Records are probably easier to come by if you still live in the state as much of the information is not digitized.
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" Alaska Death Records and Death Index". NameCensus.com. Accessed on September 29, 2023. https://namecensus.com/blog/alaska-death-records-and-death-index/.
" Alaska Death Records and Death Index". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/blog/alaska-death-records-and-death-index/. Accessed 29 September, 2023
Alaska Death Records and Death Index. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from https://namecensus.com/blog/alaska-death-records-and-death-index/.