March 31, 2023, 7:19 pm
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General Information About Washington Death Records and Laws
In Washington, death records are used for many purposes. These records are now a requirement to be kept on file with the state, at least as a registration (the actual death certificate may not be available at the state level, though.) Death records for the most recent deaths are often used for verification of a person's death for estate management needs. However, it is also possible to search for records from hundreds of years ago. The use of these types of records can be very helpful when creating a family genealogy project or when it is necessary to piece together the places a person lived. For this type of information, it is important to know where to look.
The state of Washington did not require the reporting of death records at a state level until 1891. Prior to this, no vital records were kept through the actual state. However, since the establishment of many of the local cities and even the counties in the region, there have been records kept. Some cities did a better job of gathering this information than others did. In some cases, the records are very complete for a short period of time and then break off for some time. This can make it hard to find some of the death records you may need, but one of the best sources for death records prior to 1891 is the local city records and archives.
From the time period of 1891 through 1907, on the other hand, all vital records, including birth and death records were required to be reported. At this time, the information was kept on file at the county level. After 1907, the state began collecting this information. It was stored through the Office of Vital Records. However, those records are not always accessible to the public. For those who need death records from July of 1907 onward, it is possible to write to the following address for more information and for a complete record search.
Department of Health
Center for Health Statistics
PO Box 9709
Olympia, Washington 98507
There is no stated amount of time that it will take to get this information. Individuals will need to request it and potentially pay a fee for the records search, but it can take several weeks to get any response for the agency.
In addition to looking for Washington death records at this level, it is also possible to do a records search at the local level. Many cities do have archives that are available for searching or investigation. The rules and requirements for getting that information depends on many factors including the availability of these records, the town's requirements and how much information you have about the person who died.
The use of Washington death records for family genealogy reporting is possible. In order to make it happen, though, individuals do need to spend some time locating information at a local level whenever possible. Those records contain more detail and are often easier to find than other forms.
Washington Death Records

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