Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
Michigan Department of
Health & Human Services

GENDIS

Search Historical Death records now.

Overview. The Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics (DVRHS) provides Internet access to information from archived death records through the Genealogical Death Indexing System (GENDIS).  This system allows the user to search for records using key pieces of information such as the decedent's name, father's last name, and year of death.

The data originates from microfilmed death ledgers for Michigan; these historic death records were transcribed by genealogists from Michigan's local genealogical societies. Funding for the GENDIS project was provided by the Abrams Foundation to the Michigan Genealogical Council. By 2007, the Family Search collection had incorporated the records into its Michigan Online Genealogical Records website. In 2015, DVRHS merged the GENDIS data with computerized ledger files in an effort to produce a more complete list of names from the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. The ledger files store administrative records used to locate certain vital records, they are incomplete in comparison to genealogical entries. The ledger records lack the cause of death, race, sex and other key pieces of information common to the original collection. The counts of records, by method of collection and year, are displayed in Table 1, below.

About the Data: The current system contains over 460,000 Michigan death records from 1867-1897. The counts by year (Table 1) indicate that GENDIS is mostly complete in comparison to the number of deaths reported by the Secretary of State during the same period, with the exception of 1893 (which is 42% complete). Table 2 displays the decedents' place of birth. The decedents during this time were mostly life-long Michiganders, but there was also a large immigrant community. Of those recorded in GENDIS, 75% were born in the United States. The vast majority of those were either born in Michigan or New York. Of those born outside the United States, 7% were born in the United Kingdom, 5.8% in the German Empire, 5.2% in Canada and the rest from a smattering of countries throughout the rest of the world. Between, 1860-1899, the most common last names were "Smith" and "Johnson." "John" and "William" were the most common male given names; the most common given female names were 'Mary", "Sarah" and "Elizabeth." (see Table 3, Table 4 and Table 5).

Searching GENDIS: General search tips are provided on the tips page. The user is reminded to start with very broad, generic queries first, and narrow the results down in subsequent requests. Generic requests would include the decedent's partial last name, truncated with an asterisk "*", the approximate years of death, and possibly a few letters of the decedent's first name. These sorts of generic searches help mitigate problems of missing data in the ledger files, a problem that exists mostly after 1885.

For more information: For requesting death or birth information for genealogical purposes, please contact the Michigan Vital Records & Health Statistics Division, Customer Request Unit by phone at (517) 335-8666 or by email at vrcustomerservice@michigan.gov.

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Table 1
Number of GENDIS Genealogical Death Records & Number of Deaths Reported by the Secretary of State,
Michigan 1867-1897
Year Method of Collection GENDIS1 Registered
Deaths2
Transcription Administrative
Records
18673          5,897             205 6,102 4,381
1868          3,108          5,504 8,612 8,235
1869          8,359             355 8,714 9,145
1870       10,051             231 10,282 10,766
1871          8,700             390 9,090 9,728
1872       11,910             710 12,620 13,371
1873       11,829          1,282 13,111 14,258
1874       11,406             236 11,642 12,500
1875       10,842             217 11,059 11,990
1876          9,784          1,825 11,609 12,576
1877          8,999          2,974 11,973 12,919
1878       11,789             104 11,893 12,766
1879          8,383          4,912 13,295 14,407
1880          6,397          8,500 14,897 16,102
1881       14,160          3,949 18,109 19,238
1882       14,616             630 15,246 16,425
1883       11,370          4,208 15,578 16,906
1884       12,870          3,871 16,741 18,056
1885       10,886          4,538 15,424 16,646
1886          4,241       12,530 16,771 18,187
1887             449       17,705 18,154 19,482
1888             787       19,112 19,899 21,764
1889          1,094       17,600 18,694 20,315
1890                95       19,984 20,079 21,642
1891             170       20,442 20,612 22,079
1892                97       20,782 20,879 21,729
1893             104          9,159 9,263 21,982
1894                79       20,244 20,323 20,959
1895             138       21,004 21,142 22,757
1896             107       20,237 20,344 21,983
1897                68       18,912 18,980 20,169

1. The GENDIS system excludes decedents for which the first name was not recorded in the ledger. These persons are typically infant deaths, or persons who were not identified around the time of death.

2. Michigan Secretary of State, 19011901 Vital Statistics, Very Large Adobe Acrobat File.

3. Approximately from April 5 to December 31, 1867

Table 2
Number and Percent of GENDIS Records,
by Decedents Place of Birth,
Michigan 1867-1897
Country Number Percent
All Countries other than the US 96,992 21.0
Austrian Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire 629 0.1
Belgium 324 0.1
Canada 24,129 5.2
Finland 697 0.2
France 990 0.2
German Empire (Including Prussia) 26,564 5.8
Italy 286 0.1
Netherlands 5,083 1.1
Poland (Excluding those lands annexed by foreign powers) 978 0.2
Russia 186 0.0
Sweden 2,556 0.6
Switzerland 545 0.1
United Kingdom 32,417 7.0
England and Wales 12,869 2.8
Ireland 15,819 3.4
Scotland 3,729 0.8
United States 345,446 74.9
Connecticut 3,199 0.7
Illinois 1,388 0.3
Indiana 2,417 0.5
Kentucky 1,068 0.2
Maine 1,119 0.2
Massachusetts 3,752 0.8
Michigan 236,711 51.3
New Hampshire 1,313 0.3
New Jersey 2,591 0.6
New York 60,260 13.1
Ohio 12,081 2.6
Pennsylvania 7,557 1.6
Vermont 5,023 1.1
Virginia 975 0.2
Wisconsin 1,448 0.3
Not Reported 18,699 4.1
Total 461,137 100.0

1The GENDIS system excludes decedents for which the first name was not recorded in the ledger. These persons are typically infant deaths, or persons who were not identified around the time of death.


Table 3
Common Last Names of Decedents,
in GENDIS Records,
Michigan 1867-1897
Rank Decedent's
Last Name
Number
1. SMITH 6,181
2. JOHNSON 3,423
3. BROWN 2,794
4. MILLER 2,704
5. CLARK 1,926
6. WILLIAMS 1,738
7. ANDERSON 1,574
8. WILSON 1,514
9. DAVIS 1,467
10. JONES 1,441
11. ALLEN 1,262
12. MARTIN 1,233
13. THOMPSON 1,215
14. WHITE 1,200
15. HALL 1,191
16. TAYLOR 1,150
17. MOORE 1,078
18. BAKER 1,058
19. COOK 1,052
20. GREEN 1,013
21. SULLIVAN 954
22. ROBINSON 948
23. CAMPBELL 928
24. WRIGHT 911
25. KING 899
26. WOOD 883
27. LEWIS 875
28. PETERSON 811
29. YOUNG 808
30. SCOTT 803
31. COLE 799
32. HILL 794
33. THOMAS 787
34. HARRIS 786
35. FISHER 785
36. BENNETT 771
37. ADAMS 741
38. STEVENS 741
39. NELSON 734
40. MURPHY 722
41. WALKER 709
42. ROBERTS 699
43. MCDONALD 689
44. STEWART 677
45. PARKER 669
46. REED 659
47. JACKSON 650
48. ROGERS 636
49. COLLINS 632
50. PHILLIPS 610
51. PALMER 598
52. FULLER 595
53. REYNOLDS 584
54. RUSSELL 567
55. RYAN 564
56. WARD 560
57. PERRY 559
58. FOSTER 549
59. BAILEY 548
60. RICE 541
61. CARPENTER 540
62. LEE 531
63. WARNER 520
64. COOPER 516
65-66. FOX 515
65-66. NICHOLS 515
67. MITCHELL 508
68-69. HUNT 505
68-69. CURTIS 505
70. HOWARD 501
Table 4
Common Male First Names
of Decedents,
in GENDIS Records,
Michigan 1867 - 1897
Rank Decedents
First Name
Number
1. JOHN 23,574
2. WILLIAM 13,236
3. GEORGE 9,104
4. JAMES 8,941
5. CHARLES 8,928
6. JOSEPH 6,862
7. HENRY 6,689
8. FRANK 5,533
9. THOMAS 4,695
10. EDWARD 3,943
11. PETER 3,290
12. ALBERT 2,809
13. ROBERT 2,728
14. DAVID 2,617
15. SAMUEL 2,527
16. FRED 2,485
17. JACOB 2,358
18. DANIEL 2,180
19. FREDERICK 2,103
20. MICHAEL 2,007
21. ARTHUR 1,882
22. ANDREW 1,860
23. HARRY 1,529
24. RICHARD 1,520
25. LOUIS 1,514
Table 5
Common Female First Names
of Decedents,
in GENDIS Records,
Michigan 1867 - 1897
Rank Decedents
First Name
Number
1. MARY 23,859
2. SARAH 6,315
3. ELIZABETH 6,030
4. ANNA 5,589
5. EMMA 3,693
6. MARGARET 3,469
7. CATHERINE 3,097
8. JANE 2,711
9. MARTHA 2,680
10. ELIZA 2,655
11. ANNIE 2,534
12. MINNIE 2,427
13. JULIA 2,399
14. ELLEN 2,229
15. IDA 2,215
16. CLARA 2,182
17. JENNIE 2,016
18. ALICE 1,979
19. HANNAH 1,807
20. CAROLINE 1,793
21. LOUISA 1,781
22. NELLIE 1,738
23. MARIA 1,712
24. ANN 1,613
25. HATTIE 1,517


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