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

About Iowa

Admitted as the 29th state of the union, Iowa's statehood was ratified on December 28th 1846. Quintessentially a Midwestern state it sits between the dense forests of the east and the vast grasslands to the west.

The state's name is derived from the Iowa Native American peoples who once lived in the area. It holds the distinction of being considered the kick off point for all presidential primary processes since 1972. It is generally thought that as Iowa goes, so goes the rest of the country.

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 Iowa 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 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

Iowa, Death Records, 1880-June 1904 and 1921-1952

This is a collection of two subseries of death records that have been gathered from the State Historical Society of Iowa and have been displayed on Its presence on Ancestry means that you will require a membership to view and use this collection.

The first subseries is 1880 – 1904 and encapsulates records recorded during this time period. These deaths were reported at the county level and recorded in registers by that county’s clerk. When it comes to discoverable data you can find out the name of the deceased, place of death, date of death, gender, age and cause of death.

It was in 1904 that Iowa started to use the death certificate format meaning the second subseries 1921 – 1952 features actual death certificate information. This means you can find out details about the parents of the deceased and also information about the informant of the death.

Click here to search Iowa, U.S., Death Records, 1880-1904, 1921-1952

Iowa Death Records, 1904-1942

This collection comes from the Utah based website which is free to use as long as you have a registered account with them. It is a collection of death certificates for events reported between 1904 – 1942.

In some ways it is better than the Ancestry collection above as it has a longer span of years covered by the death certificates. However it does not have any pre-1904 death records in this particular index.

Click here to search Iowa Death Records, 1904-1942

Iowa: County Death Records, 1880-1992

This index covers all but one of the state's 99 counties and lists death records from 1880 until 1942. Also available through it is free to use. It combines images of death certificates, indexes and registers.

Click here to search Iowa: County Death Records, 1880-1992

Death Indexes, Cemetery Burials and Obituaries by County

Iowa has a long list of counties in fact there are 99 of them in total. Not all of them have area specific death indexes available online but there are several that do.

County Death Indexes, Cemetery Burials and Obituaries by County
  • See Story County
Black Hawk
Cedar Rapids
  • See Linn County
Cerro Gordo
Council Bluffs
  • See Pottawattamie County
Des Moines
  • GenWeb Site includes cemeteries, probate records, death index 1880-1910 and obituaries
  • Genealogy Indexes includes a death index 1880-1919, obituaries, over 28,000 cemetery burials, indexes for probate records
Scott & Davenport
Van Buren
  • See Black Hawk


Iowa has a great collection of death records and indexes both at the state and county levels. Official death certificates have been mandated since 1904 in the state which is early compared to others. As such finding an ancestor's death record within the 1900s is relatively easy in Iowa.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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