Big brother wants to know when it happened!

Oregon State Seal

“Report Births and Deaths – Dr. J.W. Harris, county health officer, desires the [Eugene Morning] Register to state for the information of the public that all births and deaths must be reported to him upon blanks supplied from his office for that purpose.  All physicians carry these blanks, but there are occasions where births and deaths occur without any attending physician in which case  in authority should drop Dr. Harris a card and the necessary blanks will be mailed to them.  This is a matter of importance, in fact the law requires it, and we all want to be law abiding.” Eugene Morning Register, Feb. 2, 1907, pg. 8.

One of the reasons I am indexing the Eugene Morning Register is I have found the Oregon State Death Index to be lacking in the first few years.  The State began requiring death certificates in 1903 and here we find in 1907 the plea from the local authority to the public encouraging them make sure these forms are filled out.  It was not uncommon during this time that babies were born at home and funerals too were handled “from the residence”, so many official recordings of these births and deaths just did not occur.

The Oregon State Archives can help you find the death certificates of your ancestors.  The State of Oregon has a 50 year closure on death certificates and a 100 year closure on birth certificates.  Visit the Oregon State Archives webpage to learn more about their services.  Currently the archives maintains the death certificates from 1903 – 1960.  If you are a Oregon resident, the fee to get a death certificate during this time period is only $ 5.00 (slightly more if you are not a Oregon resident).  The archives will even email it to you in a .pdf format.  I have caught them on slow days where they have responded to my request on the same day!   I always checked the Oregon Death Index first to make sure the death was recorded with the state. 

If you only know the county someone died, perhaps information from the Oregon Death Index – obtaining a copy of the death certificate can save you a lot of time at the microfilm reader.  The Death Certificate will tell you what what the person’s residence was – and you can immediately focus on that town’s newspaper.


About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
This entry was posted in Death dates, Research helps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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