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

About Michigan

The 26th state to join the Union, Michigan was admitted on January 26th 1837. It is a state in two parts made from two Great Lakes Peninsulas, the Lower and the Upper. These peninsulas are connected by one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, the Mackinac Bridge.

Although Michigan became a U.S. territory in 1783 as part of the Treaty of Paris the settlers and local tribes living around Detroit remained in favor of the British. It was not until 1796 after the Battle of Fallen Timbers that the British finally departed and the U.S. gained full control.

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 Michigan 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 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

Michigan Death Records, 1867-1897

This is a 30 year index of the deaths reported at the county level in Michigan. Not all counties will be covered and not every individual who died during the time will be included. The collection is made up of pages from death registers so is shown as a list.

Click here to search Michigan Death Records, 1867-1897

Michigan Death Records, 1867-1952

This collection is from Ancestry.com and features both death register indexes and actual scanned digital death certificates. You will need a paid membership to ancestry to access these images although you can search the index to get an idea as to if your specific ancestors are in this collection of records.

Click here to search Michigan Death Records, 1867-1952

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

County level records can sometimes be more helpful for older death events that predate standardized vital records recorded at the state level.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
Ann Arbor
  • See Washtenaw County
Battle Creek
  • See Calhoun County
Grand Rapids
  • See Kent County
Grand Traverse
  • See Oakland County
St. Clair
St. Joseph
Van Buren


There is a wealth of records available online that can help you potentially locate the death records of your ancestors who may have died in Michigan. This is a state that will unseal vital records after a certain length of time allowing sites like Ancestry.com to scan them and make them available to their users.

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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  • " Michigan Death Records and Death Index". NameCensus.com. Accessed on September 29, 2023. https://namecensus.com/blog/michigan-death-records-and-death-index/.

  • " Michigan Death Records and Death Index". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/blog/michigan-death-records-and-death-index/. Accessed 29 September, 2023

  • Michigan Death Records and Death Index. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from https://namecensus.com/blog/michigan-death-records-and-death-index/.