Pennsylvania Death Records Accessible

For the first time ever, Pennsylvania Death Records are not only open to the public (which happened two years ago) but are digitized, indexed, and accessible online! It has been a long haul down a windy road of legislation led by Tim Gruber and others. Below is Tim’s announcement about how to access the 1906-1924 record set with the schedule for the online release of others. We all owe a debt of gratitude for the perseverance of the movement to gain public access to these vital records.

The first record I looked at was for my grandfather’s one-day-old son who died in 1921. I was about in tears thinking that I now know the name of the child I had only heard family stories about. His memory now won’t be lost in the mists of time. This is why we do genealogy… so that all family members can be remembered.

Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 5772 (1921), Raffaele Scalise;, "Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1924," accessed 18 April 2014.

Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate 5772 (1921), Raffaele Scalise; digital image,, “Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1924,” accessed 18 April 2014.

The following is from Tim Gruber, Pahr-Access spokesperson:

The initial batch of Pennsylvania state death certificates as of April 18th is now online through Remember only birth and death certificates that are open records will be online (50 years for death certificates and 105 years for birth certificates). The overall schedule is:

1906-24 death certificates – April 2014
1925-44 death certificates – June 2014
1945-63 death certificates – November 2014
1906 birth certificates – March 2015

Pennsylvania residents (and only Pennsylvania residents) have free access to this particular database as they do with other Pennsylvania State Archives records already scanned and made available online by Ancestry. Free access for Pennsylvania residents is accomplished by registering online at no cost through this link (please be sure to read the instructions carefully): Pennsylvania residents that already have a subscription to Ancestry do not need to do anything as long as they continue to have a subscription to Ancestry.

Out of state residents do need a subscription to Ancestry to access these records. However, many libraries and research centers everywhere provide free access to Ancestry. After three years the records will be moved to the Pennsylvania State Archives website and be free to all.

Thank you for your help in getting the PA state law changed that made this possible. Without your help we would still be stuck with the old extremely restricted access to Pennsylvania state birth and death certificates and wishing it were different. For more information please visit Good luck in your searches and keep in mind mistakes in indexing (most especially on Ancestry) and the original certificates are to be expected.

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9 Responses to Pennsylvania Death Records Accessible

  1. Noirlene says:

    This is WONDERFUL. I have already spent hours inputting data that I have gotten from these records. On this first batch alone, I know I can spend months inputting data. I am eternally grateful to all those who worked so hard to make this happen.
    Thank you; thank you, thank you.

  2. Brenda says:

    YEAH!! I’ve been waiting for this. As you mentioned, there are errors in indexing but mostly because it’s hard to read the writing on the certificate itself. Please take the time on to make corrections when you find them.

  3. Ken Berner says:

    Thanks, Elissa, for the heads-up, and to you, Tim, and all who worked so long for these great results. What an Easter gift!

  4. Diana Watson says:

    Thanks Tim and Elissa for all your hard work for Pennsylvania records that will now be available. This will help many in there search for records that were so hard to obtain. Thanks again.

  5. Leon Chadwick says:

    This is great.It will open a lot of doors for me

  6. Ella says:

    This is fantastic! Thank you so much for the notification and thank you to those who have had a hand in making it all freely available online!

  7. Fantastic! How wonderful that so much information has been indexed – including mother’s maiden names. Thank you, Tim Gruber and team.

  8. Margaret R. Fortier says:

    Thank you, Elissa, for the notification. My great grandfather, who I have been looking for for 15 years, was finally located (after much creative searching). Thank you, Tim Gruber and all who worked to make this possible!

  9. Bonnie Belza says:

    Thank you so much for gettin this accomplished!! It is a tremendous resource and you should be very proud of your success.

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