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               November, 2013

  Contact the Editors:
      Charles Hansen, Editor & Contributor
      Jenna Mills, Associate Editor & Contributor

  Read previous newsletters: Newsletter Archives

  Abstracting a Death Certificate
  — by Charles Hansen

     Today I went to our local health department to pick up a copy of a death certificate for a client, so now lets see what information we can find from this death certificate:

  • First is the file numbers (both local and state)
  • Name of decedent -
  • Sex - Male
  • Date of death -
  • Race - White
  • Age and birth date -
  • County and city of death - Spokane
  • Place of death - Opportunity Convalescent Center
  • Birth State or country - Washington
  • Citizen of what country - USA
  • Marital status - Divorced
  • Spouse - (if wife gave maiden name)
  • Was deceased while serving in US Armed Forces - Yes
  • Social Security number -
  • Occupation - Printer
  • Kind of Business - Consolidated Freightway
  • Decedents address -
  • Father -
  • Mother - (include maiden name)
  • Informant - name and address
  • Burial or cremated Burial -
  • Date of burial - June 18, 1983
  • Cemetery - Fairmount Memorial Park
  • Location - Spokane, Washington
  • Funeral Director - Paul M. Oss
  • Name of Funeral Home - Hazen & Jaeger Funeral Home
  • Address of Funeral Home - N. 1306 Monroe St, Spokane, WA 99201
  • Attending physician - Philip L. Monroe M.D.
  • Address of physician - E. 12616 Mission Spokane, WA 99216
  • Cause of death -
  • Date health department received the certificate - Jun 15, 1983

     Notice I did not fill in any names or other information that could identify this person, but I did fill in the other information. So which information is primary information form this certificate? Which is secondary? Primary information is the decedents name, date of death, place of death, name of doctor, cause of death, where buried and name of funeral home. The rest of the information had to be supplied by someone else, and is only as good as that person knows and on many death certificates it will be noted, "unknown" or be left blank.

     Acouple of interesting things in this death certificate was his occupation and employer, and Consolidated Freightways is still in business, so possibly a source of more records, but since it is a private company they might not provide that information or may have thrown out those records decades ago. Hazen and Jaeger Funeral Home is still in business, and they still have their old records and are willing to work with genealogists, so that is a good source for records.

     The bad part of going to the Health Department is that they charge $20.00 for a death certificate, but for death certificates after 1960, in Washington State, they are the only source. Before that date, Family Search has filmed the Washington State death certificates, so you can get a copy much cheaper than at the Health Department. You can get the film number by entering the decedents name in the Family Search, search box and near the bottom of the index listing is the film number where upon this certificate appears.

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