Hawaii 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About Hawaii

The State of Hawaii is one of only two states that does not share a land border with any other U.S. State. It is a group of volcanic islands roughly 2,397 miles west of San Francisco, California. To its west Hawaii is 5,293 miles from Manila in the Philippines.

This island chain was annexed by the United States in 1900 which led to a population expansion as U.S. citizens came to set up a plantation system. In 1941 it was Japan’s attack on the Pearl Harbor U.S. naval base that drew the United States into WWII.

After the war Hawaii finally went from being a U.S. territory to becoming the youngest and most recent addition to the United States. They were finally ratified as a state on August 21st 1959. This new state's motto became "Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono" which translates as “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

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 Hawaii 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 who, 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

Hawaii Death Certificates and Indexes, 1841-1942

This database can be found on Ancestry.com and will require a paid subscription to view. This may be worth it however as it does include digital images of death certificates. These certificates will pre-date statehood so you will notice that is reflected on the documents.

Some of the records have been damaged so you may find some details missing from the scanned pages. You should however find the standard details you would expect from a U.S. issued death certificate. This can include details about the death, biographical data on the deceased and details regarding their parents if known.

Search here for Hawaii Death Certificates and Indexes

Hawaii, Death Records and Death Registers, 1841-1925

This is a more limited version of the Ancestry.com version above but it is free with a registered account at Familysearch.org. This database only goes up to 1925 however so if your ancestor likely died after this date you may not find them in this index.

Search here for Hawaii, Death Records and Death Registers, 1841-1925

Hawaii, Birth, Marriage, and Death Cards, 1850-1950

This index which is located on Ancestry covers vital record events between 1850 – 1950 although it will not be comprehensive in coverage. The bulk of the details have been pulled from “The Friend,” Hawaii’s oldest contiguous newspaper which was first published in 1843.

There is no guarantee that your family events will be listed in this index but it may be worth looking into. The details have been transcribed from the original publications onto cards that contain the basic details of the event. As with anything transcribed, remember errors can happen so the details may not tally with the actual facts.

Search here for the Hawaii, U.S., Births, Marriages, and Death Cards, 1850-1950 Index

Hawaii Obituaries Index, ca. 1980-present

This index is focused on more recent events with a collection of obituaries from 1980 until the present. Included in this index are obituary notices from papers such as The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, The Kauai Garden Island News, The Maui News, and The Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

The information in these listings will depend greatly on the person who reported the events to the paper and may contain basic information or more informative details. It should be noted that some of these will be in the Hawaiian language so translation may be required.

This index is located on the Familysearch.org website so although it is free, it will require a registered account to access fully.

Click here to search Hawaii Obituaries Index, ca. 1980-present

Hawaii State Archives Genealogy Indexes

This collection is found on the Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library website and contains a vast array of genealogically significant records including probate information. You can search the website's records to locate the documents you need.

Some of the listings will be in red which means you can click on them to see a digital copy. Those not highlighted red will have details that you can note down to locate the original documents in collections elsewhere.

Click here to search the Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library

Hawaii State Archives Probate packet Records 1914 – 1917

This collection from Familysearch.org covers over a century of probate records in Hawaii. It has been collected from the Hawaii State Archives recorded on microfilm and made digitally available online.

You may discover information in this collection that pertains to your ancestors' family as well as to the things they owned and passed down to their heirs.

Click here to search Hawaii, Hawaii State Archives, Probate Packet Records, 1814-1917

Conclusion

Hawaii is a young state which despite early missionaries maintained some semblance of their own monarchy well into the 19th century. Its vital records are limited but there are still sources that can help you research your ancestors from the region.

These include long running newspapers some dating back to the 1840s as well as official record keeping for birth, marriage and deaths.

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