ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > ROOTS > 2002-10 > 1033769803
From: "John Lancaster" <>
Subject: Re: [ROOTS-L] Death Certificate Availability
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 2002 17:16:43 -0500
The first question that comes to mind is, have you actually read the law?
The clerk may not know the law himself (or herself), or may be just putting
that out to avoid doing work.
In most states, if you go to the state's website, you'll find a site for the
legislature. On that site you'll ususally find a database of all laws in
effect. Ask the clerk for the legal reference - and if s/he doesn't have
that, they don't know that it is the law - and then look it up. As an
alternative, start searching for all laws pertaining to death certificates.
This may take a little work, but may also allow you to get the data you
If the clerk doesn't have the legal reference, call back and talk to his/her
supervisor and ask them.
For Kansas, you can search for laws here:
and a search for "death certificate" (without quote marks) produced 64
results. Not overwhelming, but surely you'll find your answer in there
John Lancaster, author of The Electronic Genealogist
The FREE Weekly Genealogy Site Review Email Letter
> Just a comment: For those of you researching in the State of Kansas, you
> be interested in knowing that unless you have a proven relationship to a
> deceased individual, you are not allowed to get a death certificate. That
> means if you suspect that a person is related, but can't prove it, a
> certificate won't be issued to you. I received this information just this
> morning from a spokesperson at the state vital statistics office. It is
> baffling to me how those who write state laws concerning privacy issues
> a problem with issuing death certificates on individuals who died 80 or
> years ago. Whose privacy can possibly be compromised? Even the informant
> these cases is most probably at least 100 years old, if still alive!
> genealogists could lobby their legislators to rewrite such laws to allow
> to records that are, say, older than 75 years. I have received death
> certificates from many other states -- Oregon, Ohio, Texas to name a
> with no difficulty, so long as I state "genealogical research" as the