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St. Louis Genealogy and Local History

Death Records for St. Louis

Introduction to St. Louis Death Records

Death Certificates

The State of Missouri officially required the recording of Death Certificates in 1910.  Copies of death certificates are available digitally beginning in 1910 until 50 years before the current year. Years are added to the database as the records become public. 

Registers of Deaths

Prior to 1910, civil registration was not required and was carried out on a county or municipal basis.  St. Louis City and County both had death registries but neither is a complete document.

Burial Certificates

St. Louis City maintained a registry of Burial Certificates.  Most of the names recorded are also found on the City Death Register.  For blurred or difficult to read names, researchers can consult the Burial Certificate Registry for confirmation. 

Alternative Sources

Church Burials are a common source for identifying a date of death.  If an individual was a member of a church which recorded rites (Examples: Catholic, Lutheran, UCC) there is likely a recording of the Burial Rite.  Many of these records for St. Louis are Available online through FamilySearch or in microform at History & Genealogy at St. Louis County Library.  Consult our guide to St. Louis Congregations. 

Obituaries are a great place to look for a date of death.  St. Louis had many newspapers that recorded obituaries.  Prior to 1910, researchers should start with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat (Found on  After 1910, start with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( Found on Proquest: Historical St. Louis Post Dispatch).  For Germans prior to 1910, also consult obituary indexes for the Westliche Post and Anziger De Westens, two German Language Newspapers which commonly published obituaries. 

United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933 were issued for Union Veterans (or their Widows / Beneficiaries) beginning in 1907.  Pension Payment Cards document the date of death of a soldier or beneficiary.   Pension Payment Cards can be found digitized on FamilySearch.



Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-

In Missouri, death certificates began being recorded statewide in 1910 and are closed for 50 years before they are transferred to the Missouri State Archives. They provide valuable information for family historians and researchers including date of birth; names of parents and spouse; cause of death; occupation; and funeral home and burial information.

The Missouri State Archives is the repository for and maintains digital access for Death Certificates outside of the 50 year privacy law. The Missouri Death Certificates Database is updated year. 

Under Missouri Sunshine Law, the state is required to provide access to it's death index.  This Missouri Death Index currently covers 1968-2015 and soon will include 2016-2019. 

Long and Short Form Death Records falling within the 50-year privacy window can be obtained from the state.  Visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to Order a copy of a Vital Record

Pre-1910 Deaths in St. Louis

The Missouri State Archives maintains a Pre-1910 Birth and Death database.  Missouri did not begin issuing Birth and Death Certificates until 1910 - so any records of Birth or Death were kept by the local county. 


The Death Record Search can be found in the lower Right-hand corner of the search screen. 

As Civil Registration was not require prior to 1910, some individuals may not be found in the Pre-1910 Death Registers.

St. Louis City maintained a Register of Deaths from Feb 1850 until January 1909 has a transcription from Feb 1850 - 1902 in the collection: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., Death Records, 1850-1902

The St. Louis Genealogical Society produced a CD of transcriptions of this register: "Deaths Recorded in the City of St. Louis, 1850–1908" which is accessible on public access computers at History & Genealogy, St. Louis County Library. 

The original register has been digitized and is available from Familysearch in the Collection:  Register of deaths, 1850-1909














The original registers are very difficult to decipher.  We recommend researchers consult the St. Louis Genealogical Society Index or Ancestry before accessing the original register.

Following the 1876 City / County Split, St. Louis County maintained a Register of Deaths from 8 Nov 1883-11 Apr 1910.

The film St. Louis County, County Clerk, Vital Records, Register of Deaths: 8 Nov 1883-11 Apr 1910, STLV-3 has not been digitized.  It is available in Microform from History & Genealogy at St. Louis County Library. 

Guide to researching Saint Louis City burial certificates, Jan. 1882 - Oct. 1908

The St. Louis City [Mo.] Burial Certificates microfilm set at the St. Louis County Library History and Genealogy Department is comprised of 121 rolls dating from January 1882 to October 1908. Although most of the information on the Burial Certificate form is the same as that on the Death Register (see number 2 below), it is useful to double check difficult handwriting, fading, or poor microfilming in the Death Register.

The Burial Certificates were filmed by the Missouri State Archives and include only burials in the City of St. Louis. However, it is important to note that in some cases, the decedent died somewhere other than the City of St. Louis and was brought to St. Louis City for burial, thus requiring a St. Louis Burial Certificate. When a death occurred outside the City of St. Louis, look for documents filmed with the certificate that possibly provide information about the place, date, and cause of death.


Follow these steps to check for a Burial Certificate in this microfilm set:
  1. Check the St. Louis Death Register Index CD-ROM (available on public PCs in the History and Genealogy Department) published by the St. Louis Genealogical Society. If a person's death is listed, record the St. Louis County Library film and page number from the listing. The CD-ROM index includes the volumes in the St. Louis Death Register entitled “Deaths Outside the City of St. Louis,” so check the index for all deaths that resulted in a burial in the City of St. Louis.
  2. Find your ancestor in the St. Louis Death Register microfilm. The information for each individual is on one line stretching across two pages in these volumes. The number on the far left hand side of the page, immediately before the decedent’s name, is the Burial Certificate Number.
  3. Using the date of death, check the list of Missing Months for which there are no microfilmed records.
  4. If the death date is not one of the missing months, check the month, year, and certificate number in the “Film Guide by Year" (see below) for St. Louis City Burial Certificates to find the microfilm roll number which will contain the Burial Certificate.
  5. If working with the microfilm at St. Louis County Library, the order of documents on each roll is listed on the side of each Burial Certificate film box. Check the box list,  as the permits are not always in perfect chronological order.


    If you are using the Burial Certificate microfilms at a research facility other than St. Louis County Library, check our online "Film Guide by Roll Order" (see below) to see how the records are arranged on each roll of film. This is important because the certificates are not always in perfect chronological order!

    If researching at a library or archives using the Missouri State Archives microfilm numbers assigned to this microfilm set, consult the listing of the Missouri State Archives film number for each St. Louis County Library film number in this set.


Is it a Burial Certificate or a Burial Permit?

The earliest records in this microfilm set (1882) have "Burial Certificate St. Louis" printed across the top of each document. The certificate recorded a death and gave permission for internment of the deceased body in a cemetery within the City of St. Louis. Because a deceased body could not be buried in St. Louis without this document, it was often referred to as a "Burial Permit."

With the passage of time, the heading at the top of the pre-printed form changed to "City of St. Louis, Health Department Certificate of Death." The arrangement of the information changed through the years, and the later records in the set gathered more information about the deceased.


Missouri State Archives Film Numbers for St. Louis City [Mo.] Burial Certificates Microfilm

The pdf below provides the Missouri State Archives microfilm roll numbers corresponding to those used by St. Louis County Library.

Film Guide by Year
Before using this chart, be sure to complete the steps listed on the above introduction for this microfilm set. After step three, you should have the date of death and burial certificate number and, by checking the list of missing months, know if you have hit a dead end because the film set does not contain certificates for that month.

To select the correct film for a given date and certificate number, find the entry line in this chart that contains BOTH

  • the date of death in the starting/ending date range
  • the certificate number in the starting/ending certificate number range

The certificates on the films are not always in perfect chronological order, and as a result, certificates from the same month may be on separate rolls of microfilm. If using the films here in the History and Genealogy Department, follow the descriptive list on the side of each Burial Certificate film box. 

Film Guide by Roll

The roll order chart below is for researchers using the St. Louis City [Mo.] Burial Certificates microfilm set at a location other than St. Louis County Library's History and Genealogy Department. The certificates are not always arranged on the film rolls in perfect chronological order so, to facilitate the research process, the chart below shows how they are arranged. This chart is not needed by those using these films here in the History and Genealogy Department because this roll order information appears on the side of each Burial Certificate film box for easy reference while viewing the film.

For more information about using this microfilm set, see the introduction above and the list of missing months. A film guide by year is also available on this website.

See also PastPorts, Vol. 9:9 (Sept. 2016).

Index of Natural Deaths in St. Louis County Coroner's Records

The following links will download a compiled index of Natural Deaths from St. Louis County Coroner's Records for the years 1953-1962. Indexes for other years (1940-1952 & 1962-1990 can be located within the microfilm set using the guide above.

Some coroner's records do not have complete information, and these indexes have been augmented with information taken from Missouri death certificates database located online at the Missouri State Archives. Information taken from death records is marked in brackets. Also, due to human error, there are often discrepancies between the information on the coroner's report and the information on the death certificate, such as name spellings, ages, and in a few instances, dates of death.

The Missouri State Archives has created the Missouri Coroner’s Inquest Database which is an abstract of records that have been indexed and are available for online research. The Coroner's Inquest Database contains records from various counties, including the City of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Medical Examiner.  The original records were microfilmed by the Missouri State Archives and a copy of these films for St. Louis City is available at History & Genealogy.  There are two St. Louis City record sets:

St. Louis City Office of the Coroner - Inquests - 1845-1900

St. Louis Medical Examiner - Inquests - 1889-1899

Missouri Death Index

In Missouri, death certificates that are more than fifty years old are considered open to the public. Missouri does publish those newly-opened records on a regular basis, and they have even set up a transcription project that has created an index for the information in the files. But Missouri currently does not have a basic genealogical index available to the public for deaths that occurred in the state after 1968.  Reclaim the Records has obtained and made available the Death Index of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).  Search the Index at:



In Missouri, all family members, genealogists representing a family member, and professionally recognized genealogists are eligible to receive copies of death certificates. Others may demonstrate a direct and tangible interest when information is needed for determination or protection of personal or property rights.

Read the Missouri Code of State Regulations - 19 CSR 10-10 or check out the detailed examples on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) website for more information.

All Missouri death certificates more than fifty years old (i.e. pre-1970) are available online for free public view at the Missouri Secretary of State's "Missouri Digital Heritage" website.