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Researching an ancestor who died an unusual death

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Perhaps you have an ancestor that died from unusual circumstances. The first thing that you can do to document it is to locate a death certificate or a newspaper article, but you might also see if a coroner’s record or medical examiner’s record exists where you can learn more.

Where to look

As you probably know, record access and titles are not the same in every location and time period. Look for records in these places:

  1. archives
  2. libraries
  3. funeral homes
  4. online databases
  5. Family History Library Catalog: keyword search for coroner
  6. Google Search (coroner’s or medical examiner records in the locality you are researching)

Be advised that in different time periods or locations, coroner’s records may be referred to as medical examiner records. The Massachusetts Forrester Mortuary Records collection at contains medical examiner records, mortuary records, and the Order of Forrester’s Financial Statements.

Ohio, Stark County Coroner’s Records, 1890-2002 on includes entries in the coroner’s inquest book and coroner’s reports.

What you may learn

If you are successful in finding this documentation on your ancestor, you may learn:

  • name at death
  • cause of death
  • date of death
  • place of death
  • name of funeral home
  • place of burial

Are you interested in learning more about coroner’s or medical examiner’s records? Send a request for another article: Click here to get the next update from the National Genealogy Examiner.



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