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

About Minnesota

When it was admitted into the Union on May 11th 1858 Minnesota became the 32nd state of the United States. Due to a small extension on its northernmost boundary geographically speaking Minnesota is the most northern of the lower 48 states. Alaska of course is much further north but shares no land border with any other state.

Often referred to as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” the actual number is closer to 12,000 making the state well known for its natural beauty. One of its top tourist attractions is the Mall of America drawing some 40 million people a year.

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 Minnesota 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

Minnesota Death Index, 1908-2017

This is a collection of indexed death records that was originally compiled by the state vital statistics department. It is held on the Ancestry.com website so will require a paid membership to view and use.

The information contained within it is basic but the most important piece of detail might be the state file number. Using this number you can order a copy of the original death certificate. The information you can learn from this index alone includes.

  • Name of the deceased
  • City and county of death
  • Date of death
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Mother's maiden name
  • State file number

Click here to search Minnesota Death Index, 1908-2017

Minnesota Wills and Probate Records, 1801-1925

This is a collection of Minnesota wills and probate records from Ancestry.coms database. Some counties will have better coverage than others. The information contained in these records will give information regarding heirs and the inheritance they were left by the deceased.

Click here to search Minnesota Wills and Probate Records, 1801-1925

Minnesota Deaths, 1887-2001

This collection comes from the free to use FamilySearch website which only requires a registered account to search their database. The details in this collection came initially from the Minnesota Historical Society and includes an index with some images.

Click here to search Minnesota Deaths, 1887-2001

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

It is always wise to look at the county as well as the statewide records of deaths, births and marriage. When events predate the state specific onset of standardized state record keeping, many major life event records were recorded by county clerks.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
Blue Earth
Clay and Steele
Crow Wing
  • See St. Louis County
  • See Hennepin County
Otter Tail
Red Lake
St. Louis
St. Paul
  • See Ramsey County
Yellow Medicine


A lot of Minnesota’s death indexes, cemetery records and obituaries can be found at the county level but there are some statewide collections available through Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.

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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