Bridging the Gap: State-Recorded Iowa Death Records

As genealogists with 20th century Iowa relatives know, Iowa law did not require births, marriages and deaths to be recorded at the county level between 1920 and 1941.  These records were sent directly to the State.

Although many clerks did continute to sporadically record these vital statistics, as time allowed, most had stopped by 1930.  This leaves a significant—and frustrating—gap in the records held by county courthouses and genealogysocieties, libraries, and centers.  And while these records can be requested through the Iowa Bureau of Health Statistics, it is often difficult to do so without knowing, for example, the exact date of death—and indexes are few and far between for this time period.

Until now.

To help bridge this  gap, the State Historical Society of Iowa is assembling an index of state-level, pre-1935 death records for each county. These indexes, which are .pdf documents,  include the name of the deceased, the birth place and date, the death date, the mother’s maiden name, the certificate number, and the archive box number.

Not only is this information useful for the family charts, it will assist the researcher in ordering the correct record from the state. 

This project is very much a work in progress, but links to the completed indexes are on the SHSI State Archives Holdings page on their website.   Once all the counties are completed, further records will be added in compliance with state law, which requires a seventy-five year holding period before the release of state records.

Finally!  A little closure for those of us who have—or think we have—relatives who died in Iowa during this 20-year county record drought.

Thank you, SHSI!

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