Sunday, September 2, 2012

More records: PA births and deaths from 1906-1961

My great-grandmother Nachama/Naomi died in Philadelphia, PA, but I don't know when. A distant cousin sent me a short family history was written by a granddaughter of hers, Rose; without getting into complicated detail, Rose was my father's half-cousin, the daughter of Nachama's daughter Sheva, who was by Nachama's first husband.

According to Rose's account, Nachama had come to Philadelphia to live with her granddaughter Rebecca (Rose's sister) and her family, and she died at age 73. 

From the details of her life that I know, plus the ages of her children, I've calculated that Nachama was born around 1860, give or take a couple of years. Assuming that she was indeed 73 when she died, that would put her date of death around 1933. 

Back about a year ago, I tried ordering a death record for her for the year 1933 (a multi-year search was quadruple the amount, so I tried just one year); I received only a document stating that her death record could not be found. 

At the time, PA vital records were not public record, so they were not available online at all. I discovered yesterday that this has since changed, and that listings for PA births and deaths from 1906-1961 are now viewable online. These aren't actual birth and death records, but contain the info you would need to order them. 

I spend a good part of my Saturday night scrolling through the death records from 1928 through 1936, and found one promising lead: an entry with her first name but with a surname that, though with the first several letters correct, had a different suffix. This Nachama died in Philly on 25 Mary 1928, which fits.

Being that Nachama is a very unusual name, and that I never noticed any other Nachamas or Naomis while scrolling through the lists, I wonder if this isn't her. The name difference could possibly be a transcription error or a name change. For $9, I could order her death record and find out.

So if you have relatives who were born or who died in PA from 1906-1961, this is definitely worth looking at. The drawback: , the names from the 1930's years are not exactly alphabetical; if you are looking for a surname starting with K, for example, you basically have to scroll through all of the K listings. Nor are the listings listed chronologically, so it's a bit time-consuming and you find your eyes swimming out of focus after awhile.