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April 2012 Now What? Q&A: Wisconsin Death Records

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Q. I’m trying to find a death date for an ancestor in Wisconsin. Where can I find Wisconsin death certificates?

A. Wisconsin didn’t require statewide registration of deaths until 1907. Counties kept death records before then, the earliest being Trempealeau County in 1847. Rusk County was the last to begin recording deaths, in 1901. You might be able to learn the death date by searching the Wisconsin Historical Society’s free Genealogy Index; to pre-1907 vital records, including deaths, as well as 150,000 Wisconsin Name Index records, including obituaries.

For information about ordering copies of a death certificate, see the Wisconsin Vital Records Office site. Applications for copies of death certificates must include the requestor’s signature and the appropriate fees, so apply by mail, fax or in person.

If the exact date of death is unknown, the vital records office will search any five-year period within the single-year indexes covering Oct. 1, 1907, through 1958 (counts as one search) or either of two multiyear indexes (each counts as one search) covering pre-1907 and post-1958 deaths. Each search costs $20, which includes one copy of the death certificate. If the person had a common last name, you must include additional information such as the place of death.
From the March/April 2012 Family Tree Magazine