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

About Wisconsin

It was soon after the end of the American Revolution that Wisconsin became a U.S. territory. Settlers quickly started to flood the area seeking work in the mining, lumber and dairy industries.

On May 29th 1848 Wisconsin was admitted as the 30th state of the Union. The state played an important role in the years leading up to the Civil War as a stop along the Underground Railroad. Slaves escaping the south often found refuge in the state on their way to Canada.

The state boasts an important milestone in American political history as in 1854 Alvan Bovay convened a meeting in a School house in Ripon. At this meeting a new political party was born to defend against the expansion of slavery. This was the original Republican party.

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 who, 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

Wisconsin Death Records Index, 1959-2004

This collection is found on the Ancestry.com website so will require a paid subscription to use. The original data was received from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. It includes death records reported to the state between 1959 – 2004

There are no images in this collection, only extracted information regarding the person and the event. It has limited biographical information. The collection does warn that the information does not constitute legal proof of the event so there may be errors.

Click here to search Wisconsin Death Records Index, 1959-2004

Wisconsin Death Index, 1820-1907

This is a collection of death records that pre-date mandatory state recording of vital statistics. These will have been recorded by county clerks and will not have created a death certificate. There are over 439,000 records spanning almost the entirety of the 19th century.

Click here to search Wisconsin Death Index, 1820-1907

Winnefox Vital Records Index

This is an online database which features vital records reported in the newspapers of 5 of Wisconsin’s counties.

  • Fond du Lac
  • Green Lake
  • Marquette
  • Waushara
  • Winnebago

If your ancestor died in any of these counties they may have had an obituary in one of the local newspapers.

Click here to search Winnefox Vital Records Index

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

When researching older death events you often need to look for information locally. Until the early 1900s vital records were recorded and stored at the county level. This means that county specific sources may be helpful in finding older records.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
Clark County
Eau Claire
Fond du Lac
La Crosse
  • See Dane County
  • See Brown County
St Croix


Wisconsin has a few sizable indexes on the big sites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch but they also have plenty of independent sites at the county level as well. Using these online sources you have a chance of locating death records from 1820 onwards.

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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  • " Wisconsin Death Records and Death Index". NameCensus.com. Accessed on December 2, 2023. https://namecensus.com/blog/wisconsin-death-records-and-death-index/.

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