Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well that's a bummer...PA Death Records

Hey all, I just got word through one of my email lists that Familysearch Pilot has removed the Philadelphia Death Records images (these are the cemetery returns beginning as early as 1803). Apparently someone emailed Familysearch to ask what was going on and they confirmed that the images had in fact been removed. They will hopefully be returning sometime later in the year once some kind of registration system has been developed and implemented. There was no further elaboration on what the "registration system" referred to so I'm at a loss. Those records were extremely useful for Philadelphia research at a time when, for the most part, there was no statewide death registration. Those cemetery returns are in many cases the only proof of the date of death for a subject, other than a tombstone which you may not be able to find without knowing the date of death. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that this issue gets taken care of so the images can return.

As far as I know, the index is still available through Familysearch Pilot so you should still be able to search for people. It's only the images that have been removed. For the very earliest returns, which in some cases were just slips of paper with the person's name and very basic info, this may not impact researchers very much. Like many other record types however, as the years went on the format of the returns got more sophistocated and important information can be found. It really just depends which is one reason why those images are so vital; you just never know what will be included.

In any event, let's just hope this gets resolved soon. Those images, along with the index, make up an extremely important PA resource. For now, if you are interested in the index you can find it here;p=collectionDetails

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