Philadelphia – Death Records Online

Genealogists researching Philadelphia just got even more help in finding their ancestors.

FamilySearchLabs has just added digital copies of Philadelphia (PA) death certificates from 1803-1915.

The Philadelphia Inquirer 1860-1922 along with over 280 Philadelphia and Pennsylvania newspapers from the colonial period right up to today are already online at GenealogyBank

So – what will you find in these records?

One gives the basic facts and the other tells us the rest of the story.

The coroner’s return has the grim story: Edward Hendrickson, age 11, killed on 20 April 1905 at the B&O Railroad tracks “while trespassing.” A sterile almost harsh report.

But there is more to the story. The Philadelphia Inquirer (21 April 1905) called him a “little hero” – who had “sacrificed” himself to save his younger brother Gilbert, age 8.

Edward and Gilbert were walking along the B&O Railroad tracks when he saw that Gilbert had stepped onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. The paper reported that Edward “jumped toward him, pushing him down a small embankment” saving Gilbert’s life, but the train took his.

Yes – the coroner’s report gave us the core facts but aren’t we glad to have the newspaper account to give us the full story.

Having Philadelphia’s newspapers and death records online makes it easy for genealogists to get the complete stories in our family tree.

This new FHL resource includes Philadelphia Death Certificates, hospital returns, undertaker certificates and similar death records from 1803 to 1915. It may be searched for free.

Typical entries include the person’s name, date of death/burial; place of death/burial; names of the parents; attending physician; undertaker; age of the deceased; occupation of the deceased; race; former residence; and cause of death.

The FamilySearchLabs site is easy to use.

Go to
Under: Current Projects – Click on Record Search
Under: Search an Indexed Collection – click on:
Pennyslvania Philadelphia City Death Certificates 1803-1915

A simple search box appears.
You may search by first or last name; names of the parents; name of the spouse or location.
The FHL index let’s you search on any one or these entire search options.

To search the nearly 280+ Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania newspapers go to GenealogyBank and begin searching.

9 thoughts on “Philadelphia – Death Records Online

  1. Thanks so much for posting the news that the Philadelphia death records are online! I have been waiting for this since I worked at the City Archives as an intern and archival processor back in 1997-1999. At the time I began trying to enter information into a database in my “spare” time, but it required much more in the way of time and resources than I had.

    I’ve been using the database off and on all night and have already saved dozens of records and passed along news of the site to several other folks.

    Thanks so much again!

  2. I jusr read about the Phil, PA site this morning. I found the death record of a 3rd great grandmother. I didn’t know for sure that she had died in PA but knew her husband had died in Phil. I didn’t find his record for 1844 but may have to use different spelling.
    This is going to be a great tool for genealogy. I do applicatons for DAR so I am sure I will find this a great help in doing research as more records become available.

    Sally Smith

  3. Looking for history of my father inlaw Gustave George Smith
    was in the army and had full military funeral; died in either 1968 or 1969
    thsnk you

  4. Looking for grandmother Marie A Coyle. Gave birth to my father, Clement J Murray, on Feb 19 1913 in Philadelphia General Hospital. I believe she died 1918 influenza epidemic. There is a recorded baptism from All Saints Chapel with my father’s name on Feb 23 1913. The birth certificate list his father as Harry Murry and the baptismal record list his father as Clement Murray.That’s all I know.

  5. Stephen – You can search newspapers about the influenza epidemic in that area and it may have an obituary for Marie with her married name and mention the husband. The spelling of the father’s name could be wrong, or it might have been put in the records incorrectly or with a nickname.

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