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

About Oregon

Oregon was admitted as the 33rd U.S. state on February 14th 1859. During the 17th and 18th centuries the region was explored by both the Spanish and French but it was ultimately the expedition of Lewis and Clark that helped map the area.

It was during the 1830s that migration to the region began with thousands of people traveling the Oregon trail from Missouri out west. It is nicknamed the Beaver State as at one time the fur trade was the region's biggest industry.

Over-hunting however almost wiped out the beaver population. Regulations were put in place to limit the trade and this has allowed the population of beavers to begin to thrive in the state once again.

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 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 have been 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

Oregon State Deaths, 1864-1968

This collection of records is found at Ancestry.com which means you will need a paid membership to make use of it. The collection itself is a combination of pre and post standardized state vital record recording documents.

Up until 1903 major life events such as birth, marriage and death were reported at the county level to the clerk and written down in registers. After this time however these events were mandatorily reported at the state level with certificates issued of the event.

This then is a combination of both types of records and may help you discover information such as:

  • Person’s name
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • Name of spouse (if applicable)
  • Age at death
  • Birth year
  • Birthplace
  • Names of parents
  • Parents’ birthplaces
  • Certificate number

Click here to search Oregon State Deaths, 1864-1968

Oregon Death Index, 1971-2008

This index can be found on FamilySearch, a free website created by the Mormon church. You can search and use this site as long as you have a registered account with them. The collection is an index of the deaths reported in the state between 1971 – 2008.

There are no images of death certificates but what you can find out is the certificate number for the individual which may allow you to order a copy from the local authority. Restrictions on ordering copies may apply for more recent deaths.

Click here to search Oregon Death Index, 1971-2008

Early Oregonians Database, 1800-1860

This is an interesting collection from the Oregon Secretary of State website that may help you locate death notices from the early to mid 1800s. It is from the states sesquicentennial project which focused on who was living in Oregon prior to statehood.

Click here to search Early Oregonians Database, 1800-1860

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

Records at the state level tend to be more recent and come from after the year 1903. It is often advised that for earlier death events you should look at the county level to try and trace death registers, obituaries and burial information.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
  • See Clackamas County
  • See Marion County


The state of Oregon does not have a huge quantity of death records for the purposes of genealogy but in general if a death was recorded in the state you should be able to find it. As always as genealogists we must remember sometimes being unable to locate a record may mean that one does not exist.

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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