North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About North Carolina

The state of North Carolina was the 11th of the 13 original colonies to ratify the U.S. constitution achieving statehood on November 21st 1789. It was also the first to instruct its delegates to vote for independence from the crown during the Continental Congress.

Following the Revolutionary War the state quickly developed an extensive slave plantation system becoming a major creator of cotton and tobacco. During the civil war the state chose to secede from the Union along with 10 other southern states and would send more recruits to the confederate war effort than any of the others.

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 this state 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

North Carolina, U.S. Death Certificates, 1909-1976

This collection of records is found at the website so will need a paid membership to view and use fully. It contains digital images of North Carolina death certificates between 1909 – 1976 which have been indexed.

The information you can learn from these scanned documents includes.

  • Name of deceased
  • Certificate number
  • Death place
  • Death date
  • Residence
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Age at time of death
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name
  • Spouse’s name

Click here to search North Carolina, U.S., Death Certificates, 1909-1976

North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

This is another collection from so again it does cost money to search these records. There are over three centuries of North Carolina wills and probate records that could prove very informative in your family tree research.

You may discover who your ancestors' close family and heirs were and what property they owned upon their death. Sometimes listed in older wills and records might be the names of slaves that were bequeathed to family. This is a grim reality of the time but this information may be of help to African Americans tracing their own ancestors.

Click here to search North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

North Carolina Death Records and Indexes

The free to use website FamilySearch has a great collection of state records for North Carolina. Owned by the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, FamilySearch is completely free as long as you have a registered account.

In the link below you will find several collections listed that may be helpful including death records, probate records and estate files.

Click here to search North Carolina Death Records and Indexes from FamilySearch

Carolina Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

The county level records that were taken by clerks prior to standardized state vital record keeping began are the best place to search for older death events. Deaths before the early 1900s will often be found in local death registers as well as obituaries and burial records.

County Carolina Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
  • See Mecklenburg County
New Hanover
  • See Wake County
  • See New Hanover County


North Carolina as one of the original colonies has a long history which is reflected in its county level vital records. Not everyone who has died in North Carolina will have death records but for those who did you may be able to find out more about them.

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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