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Friday, April 18, 2014

Puzzle Pieces

OK, so I'm weird. I'll say it right up front so you don't have to.
The day I've been waiting for has finally arrived! As of today, images of PA death certificates are online for the years 1906-1924. That's something to be excited about? Yes, for weird people like me who would rather put a genealogy together than a 1000-piece puzzle.
Tim Gruber worked for years to get the state to put death certificates online as some other states have done. At last, in 2011, they made the indices available on the PA State Archives website. That made it possible to find the person's name, county, date of death, and certificate number. But it did not tell me who the person's parents were or where they are buried. In order to see the actual certificates and get that information, I had to go to Harrisburg in person and request the certificate. Only ten certificates could be requested per day. For some people, Harrisburg is a couple hours drive. I'm not that far away but it still required time and the expense of travel and parking. has been working for about two years to scan all the death certificates. I've been waiting for the day I can see them with just a few clicks of the mouse and without the time and expense involved in going to Harrisburg. I heard they were going to be uploaded April 17 so I tried yesterday but found nothing. I tried again today and there it was!!
I spent most of the evening looking through them and filled in a few blanks in my genealogy outlines. It's a good start but will be even more helpful when it's complete. More years will be released in segments throughout the year. Pennsylvania birth records become public information 105 years after the birth and death certificates are made public 50 years after the death. By the end of the year, death certificates should be available up to 1960. More puzzle pieces on the table for genealogy buffs to put together!

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