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Pennsylvania State Birth & Death Certificates on Ancestry.com

PA Death Certificate

Pennsylvania death certificate from 1917 on Ancestry.com

The Pennsylvania State Archives has a partnership with Ancestry.com to digitize family history records in the State Archives and make them available online—FREE for Pennsylvania residents. The Wyoming County Historical Society endorsed this cause way back in 2008.

Facts:

  • The initial batch of Pennsylvania state death certificates is now online through Ancestry.com.
  • Only birth and death certificates that are open records will be online (after 50 years for death certificates and after 105 years for birth certificates). [As of 2015, Pennsylvania state death certificates from 1964 and birth certificates from 1909 are now open records and available at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. Hopefully, all these records will eventually be available on Ancestry.com, too.]
  • 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 (see below*).
  • Free access for Pennsylvania residents is accomplished by registering online at no cost through this link (please be sure to read the instructions carefully). [Click “Log In,” then “Register,” then access this page to continue.]
  • If you already have a subscription to Ancestry, you do not need to do anything.
  • Out-of-state residents DO need a subscription to Ancestry to access these records. However, many libraries and research centers provide free access.
  • The indexes on Ancestry can contain many errors and be frustrating to use. Be aware that you might have to use alternate names and/or enter only a place name and browse.
  • After three years, the records will be moved to the Pennsylvania State Archives website and be free to everyone.

THANK YOU

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. [More information on PAHR] Good luck in your searches and keep in mind mistakes in indexing (most especially on Ancestry) and the original certificates are to be expected.

~Tim Gruber, PAHR-Access spokesperson

More Information

Read about Act 110 – Public Records (formerly known as Senate Bill 361)
“On December 15, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett approved Senate Bill 361. This bill amends the Act of June 29, 1953 (P.L. 304, No. 66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, to provide for public access to certain birth and death certificates after a fixed amount of time has passed. This legislation provides that such documents become public records 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death.”

*Included data collections on Ancestry.com:

Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-1999
Pennsylvania, Births, 1852-1854
Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952
Pennsylvania, Oyer and Terminer Court Papers, 1757-1787
Pennsylvania, Spanish War Compensation, 1898-1934
Pennsylvania, Naturalizations, 1794-1908
Pennsylvania, War of 1812 Pensions, 1866-1879
Pennsylvania, Land Warrants, 1733-1987
Pennsylvania, Civil War Border Claims, 1868-1879
Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852-1854
Pennsylvania, Deaths, 1852-1854
Pennsylvania, Records of Marriages, 1885-1889
Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801
Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863
Pennsylvania, WPA Church Archives, 1937-1940
Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948
Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963