Delaware Death Records and Death Index

It may surprise you to learn how often genealogists face this particular set of circumstances. They are aware of when their ancestor was born, when they may have married, when their children were born but they just can’t find out when they died.

There are a fair few instances where the only information missing is the death date which 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 Delaware 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 Delaware then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About Delaware

The state of Delaware is famously the first of the original first colonies to achieve statehood on December 7th 1787. Originally colonized by the Swedish in 1638 it is 2,389 square miles in area with a population of less than a million.

Its position and significance in the founding of the United States means it had the poignant motto of “Liberty and Independence.” Among its many nicknames Delaware is also known as The First State, The Diamond State and the Blue Hen State.

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 Delaware 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 Ancestrydeathindex

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
  • Gender
  • Sometimes race or ethnic group

Click here to search AncestryDeathindex

Delaware Death Records, 1861-1933

Delaware first required the keeping of vital records for birth, marriage and death in 1913. It was in this year that the office of vital statistics was created. At present the state law requires that all death records become available to the public 40 years after the event.

This collection of 134,797 records is found for free on Familyseach.org and is drawn from the Delaware States Archives Hall of Records. It covers well over 2 centuries of the state's history and covers vital records such as birth, marriage and death.

In this collection are printed cards holding basic biographical details regarding the deceased. The information may include parents' names, age and other basic details.

Click to search the Delaware Vital Record Index Cards, 1680-1934

Delaware Genealogy Collections Gateway - Death and Probate Records Indexes

This index of records can be found on the Delaware.gov website and features over 500,000 listings regarding various types of record. This includes church records, coroners inquests, land records, naturalization records and many more.

You can search in a variety of collections to trace many aspects of genealogy including for death records. This is a free site which covers all of the state's counties.

Click here to search the Delaware Genealogy Collections Gateway

Delaware Death Records and Index, 1855-1961

This collection is located at the free to use Familysearch.org website which is the creation of the Church of Latter day Saints. Within this collection there are over 200,000 records which may include death certificates including digital images of the documents.

Information included in these records includes:

  • Full name including maiden name if known
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Date of Birth
  • Date of Death
  • Place of death
  • Names of parents
  • Birth place of parents
  • Cause of death

Click here to search the Delaware Death Records and Index, 1855-1961

Delaware Vital Record Index Cards, 1680-1934

This collection of 134,797 records is found for free on Familyseach.org and is drawn from the Delaware States Archives Hall of Records. It covers well over 2 centuries of the state's history and covers vital records such as birth, marriage and death.

In this collection are printed cards holding basic biographical details regarding the deceased. The information may include parents' names, age and other basic details.

Click to search the Delaware Vital Record Index Cards, 1680-1934

Delaware Vital Records, 1650-1974

This is a growing index from Familysearch.org that is expanding as more and more images become available. This not only covers death records but also birth and marriage listing as well. It covers events from over 300 years of the state's history.

The public archives are the source for this database.

Click here to search the Delaware Vital Records, 1650-1974

Delaware, Wills and Probate Records, 1676-1971

This extensive collection comes from Ancestry.com so as such is held behind a paywall. You will need an Ancestry membership to access the images held in this archive but they may well be worth the effort.

In these records are almost three centuries of wills and probate records that might lead to family tree breakthroughs. Mentioned among the many pages of wills and probate records could be family members and details about property owned by the deceased.

Click to search Delaware, Wills and Probate Records, 1676-1971

County Specific Death Indexes

As Delaware is one of the smaller states it only has three counties so there is not an over abundance of county specific databases. There are however a few that might be helpful

New Castle County

  • New Castle County: Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Burial Database Search (for All Saints Cemetery in Wilmington, Cathedral Cemetery in Wilmington, and Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Dagsboro)
  • Wilmington Vital Records, 1847-1954 at FamilySearch; includes birth, marriage and death records; coverage varies by type of record
  • New Castle County Wills Search includes wills for residents of New Castle County
  • Delaware Church Deaths, 1750-1886 from FamilySearch; for the Christina Congregation, Trinity Church, Wilmington, Delaware

Sussex County

Sussex County Cemetery Database available through the Lewes Historical Society and features images of grave markers.

Conclusion

Delaware is a small state with a long history. It has been requiring death records by law since 1913 but older records are also available in the state as well. Death certificates are unsealed 40 years after being issued and become available for the general public to view.

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