Finding New Death Certificates on Seeking Michigan

Yes, you read the headline correctly. I’m talking about Michigan death certificates. Just because I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Buckeye doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a great genealogical resource from that state up north. (Plus, my 3rd-great-grandmother Margaret McKitrick died there in 1924, so I was pretty excited to see this new collection!)

Seeking Michigan (seekingmichigan.org) has had death certificates from 1897-1920 on the site for some time. This week, they added 1921-1939. (NOTE: The title of the collection currently reads “1921-1952.” The index from 1940-1952 will actually be added over the next few weeks, with images added as Michigan’s 76-year privacy restriction allows.)

To access these new certificates, go to seekingmichigan.org and click “Advanced Search” at the top of the page:

Seeking Michigan website death certificates

You’ll get a search form and you can select which collection(s) you want to search:

seeking-michigan-collection-list

Although you can search both sets of death certificates at once, I suggest you search them separately. My experience is that combining the two collections and doing a search for “Last Name” (rather than “All fields”) breaks the search. For example, I did a search for Behnke in “Last Name” and had both collections selected. I got zero results. However, when I did the search for Behnke in “Last Name” in just the 1897-1920 collection, I got 32 results. There is no “Last Name” option for the 1921-1952 collection. (I suspect this is the issue with getting no results when combined and doing a “Last Name” search. Hopefully the fine folks at Seeking Michigan will get the fields mapped so that “Last Name” will work as expected.)

(UPDATE: Kris Rzepczynski of the Archives of Michigan confirmed that there is a little bug with the new collection that isn’t allowing searches by “Last Name.” This should be fixed when the 1940-1952 certificates are added in a few weeks. In the meantime, either search the two collections separately or leave the search field as the default “All fields.”)

Searching for Margaret McKitrick

My 3rd-great-grandmother Margaret McKitrick died in Michigan in 1924. I did my searches only in the “1921-1952” collection. The first search I did was for McKitrick in all fields — and I got zero results. I did the search again for Mc Kitrick (with a space) in all fields and got this result:

Margaret McKitrick results in Seeking Michigan

Tip: When working with “Mc” or “Mac” surnames, always run your search twice — once with a space and once without.

This results looks like the one I’m looking for. Yay! To see the certificate, I clicked the little thumbnail image.

Seeking Michigan death certificate viewer

I can click and drag the image to see different parts of it, I can zoom in and out. I can also download the whole image to my computer and also share it to social media. (Because who doesn’t want to share their ancestors’ death certificates on Facebook?! Seriously. This would be great for sharing with your cousins!)

I was thrilled when I found Margaret’s death certificate. There has been conjecture among her descendants about her mother’s maiden name. I know that Margaret’s maiden name was Morrison and that her father’s name was John. I also suspect that her mother was Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Finally, a record that should tell me Margaret’s mother’s maiden name! I scrolled down on the certificate, anxious to read the section about parents. There, I found…

Close-up of Margaret McKitrick's death certificate

Close-up of Margaret McKitrick’s death certificate

Father: John “Marson”

Mother: Unk.

Apparently Margaret’s son Elmer, the informant on her death certificate, didn’t know the name of his grandmother. Sigh. All Seeking Michigan can do is provide the certificate. They can’t do anything about uninformed informants 😉

13 thoughts on “Finding New Death Certificates on Seeking Michigan

  1. reflectionsfromthefence

    My understanding of the future releases on this data base come from Kris Rzepczynski, Archivist at the Archives of Michigan, I directly quote him: “The index for records from 1940-1952 will be made available in the next few weeks, with additional certificate images to be released each year as privacy restrictions are lifted; for example, 1940 images will be released in January 2016.”

    Note the images will not be released until privacy and dates required by Michigan State law match up.

    As far as your issue with surname searches, I am bewildered. I did two surname searches there yesterday and had a number of hits from 1921 to 1939. I downloaded 14 death certificates that I found with only a surname search.

    I accessed the data base with this URL, and then, used the search box at the top of the page, typing in only the surname. One had over 50 hits (Gehrke) and the other had 14 (Ruthig). And, yes, I found some fantastic information, including several death dates that I did not have. WAHHHOOO!

    Can’t wait to get back and try Gerth.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      The issue I have with the searching is when you search both sets of death certificates at the same time AND you select “Last Name” as the field to search (rather than leaving it as the default “All fields.”) I have been in touch with Kris Rzepczynski and he confirms my suspicion that the 1921+ collection isn’t including the “Last Name” field quite right. He added that they will be fixing this when the 1940-1952 certificates are added in the next few weeks.

      Reply
  2. Beth Hardin

    Thanks for the great info on Michigan death certificates. I can use them for some collateral family members. Michigan has been a real challenge for me, but at least this will give a bit of relief. Now, if only some of my other states would release data to online, my life would become so much easier.

    Reply
  3. Diane Gould Hall

    I’ve had a wonderful time finding certs. I’ve got 33 downloaded, cropped and corrected and saved to the proper place on my computer. Now I will begin the process of entering and sourcing them one by one. Very excited to have all this information. Can’t wait for the rest of them. To say I have roots in Michigan is to out it mildly. Gene happy dance!

    Reply
  4. Rosemary Adolphson

    How can I print the entire certificate? I’ve tried everything I know how to do. I also tried to save it in my documents but only a portion of it saved. Thanks for any help.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Did you use the “Download” button right above the image? Doing a right-click to save will only save part of the image.

      Reply

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