Pennsylvania Death Certificates Starting to Appear On-Line

The following information is from the People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access):

The initial batch of Pennsylvania state death certificates is now online through (as of April 18th). 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.

You can read more at the People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access) web site at:


Here’s the direct link to the Pennsylvania Death Certificates on


Thank you. This is the first time I have “circled my calendar” for a release of records. The upcoming ones should include both my paternal grandparents, a great grandmother, my father’s first wife, and who knows whom else among collateral relatives. PA had been so restrictive, this is really good news. I spent hours on the first batch when they were released a few weeks ago.


The Ancestry indexing is awful – although, to be fair, so is the handwriting on some of the certificates. A lot of my name searches are unsuccessful. When that happens, I go to the death index at the PA Dept of Health website, get the certificate number, then search Ancestry again using only the death year and certificate number. Works every time, and I often laugh out loud when I see how the name was indexed.


I am a Penna. resident and have registered with the Penna. website. I also have an expired subscription with How do I reference the death certificate file? If I sign in with Ancestry they want a subscription fee. Do I go through the state website? If so I need need more info. Thanks, Jim


    Still having trouble referencing this file “Pennsylvania Death Certificates”(for free). I called and they state that it is a subscription only file. I quoted your newsletter to no avail. See my original note on 4/24. Thanks for any guidance.


    Hi Jim. I am sorry to hear of the difficulty but I am not the one to give advice. As mentioned early in the above article, those words were written by the People for Better Pennsylvania Historical Records Access (PaHR-Access), not by me. They know a lot more about this topic than I do. I think you need to contact them to ask for details concerning their announcement.


Christine Crawford-Oppenheimer April 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm

I am in seventh Heaven! My mother’s ancestors have been in PA since 1682, and I have databases where I collected all people with the surnames Schreckengost, Milliron, Daubenspeck, Doverspike, and variants. I just searched for Schreckengost at, and found 289 certificates listed!


I am so happy to see my uncle’s death certificate on line, now I’m waiting for his birth certificate. I wish Virginia would follow suit and soon.


If you have paid for a copy of a death certificate from the State of Pennsylvania the quality of the new digital ones, on-line, are much superior. I have been checking my information against the new digital copies and have already found some corrections to be made on my family group sheets.


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