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:
You’ll get a search form and you can select which collection(s) you want to search:
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:
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.
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…
Father: John “Marson”
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 😉