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

About Massachusetts

The state, or more accurately Commonwealth, of Massachusetts is one of the 13 original colonies as well as being one of the six New England states. Ratified as the 6th official state on February the 6th 1788, Massachusetts has a rich and varied history.

The state is likely best known as the arrival point of the Mayflower when it brought English pilgrims to the New World in 1620. It was also a central point during the American Revolution and has played a big role politically and industrially since its founding.

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 Massachusetts 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 Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

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

Massachusetts U.S. Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991

This is a collection found on so will require a paid subscription to view and make use of. It covers over 300 years of potential probate records and wills. Not everyone produced a will or went through probate during this time but for those that did this can be a good resource for information regarding them.

It is possible to find out the names of children, spouses and other more distant family members who may be mentioned in the will. These records can also indicate the level of prosperity or lack thereof your ancestors were experiencing.

Click here to search Massachusetts U.S. Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991

Massachusetts Death Records and Indexes on FamilySearch

The free to use Utah based website FamilySearch has millions of records from around the world and they are free to use for registered account holders. In the link below you will find a collection of the indexes available for death records in the State of Massachusetts on the FamilySearch website.

Click here to search Massachusetts Death Records and Indexes on FamilySearch

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

Often in older states you can find a wealth of death records dating back beyond the creation of standardized vital record recording. These were often reported at the county level so looking in these localized areas can often be beneficial to your research.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
  • See Suffolk County
Suffolk and the City of Boston


The state of Massachusetts has a long history and as such there is a wealth of records dating back centuries. As the location of the Mayflower’s arrival the genealogy of the area has been heavily researched which has resulted in plenty of online research content to review.

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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