If you are interested in researching your Arkansas family history, you will happy to learn that death records are now accessible online. In a press release submitted to Business Wire on December 3, 2012, the Arkansas Department of Health announced the launching of a brand new online death certificate search and ordering service. This new service makes genealogical research more convenient than ever. Previously, death certificates could only be obtained by requesting them in person at the Department of Health or by submitting a paper request form.
Death certificates from 1935 to 1961 are currently available, but in the coming months the Arkansas Department of Health will be adding additional records. Records can be searched for in a number of ways. At minimum, a last name is required, but additional information such as date of death, county of death, or date of birth will make finding the record much easier. After entering your search criteria, the index results will include the deceased first and last name, state of birth, county of death, date of death, and mother’s name. These results can then be sorted by clicking on one of the field names. You can order the record online using a credit card or E-Check. A downloadable mail in request form is also available. Vital Records issues a certified copy of the original death certificate in paper form.
If you would like to order a death certificate that is less than 50 years old or before 1935, you will need to apply through the Arkansas Department of Health’s Vital Records Section. Arkansas Vital Records has death records dating from February 1, 1914 through the present. There are a limited number of death records available for deaths occurring between 1881 and 1914 in Little Rock and Fort Smith. The Arkansas History Commission keeps an alphabetical listing of deaths in Arkansas dating from 1914 through 1949, but they do not have the actual death records.
Arkansas Statute 20-18-305 allows release to specific persons who are related to the registrant, his/her designated representatives, academic research groups, and to persons who can demonstrate that they have a right to obtain the record. Death records that are more than 50 years old can be released to the public. To order records you will need to provide government issued photo identification, full name of deceased, date of death, county or city of death, requester’s relationship to the deceased, and requester’s reason for requesting the certificate.
Death records are one of the best places to begin your genealogy research. You will discover that a wealth of information can be found on the death certificate beyond just the date of death. Information in Arkansas death records include the name of deceased, age of death, date and location of death, date and location of birth, marital status, name of spouse, parent’s names, name of informant, occupation and education of deceased, whether the deceased was a veteran, social security number, burial date and location, funeral home, and the cause of death. These pieces of information can be of enormous help with your family history research and will get you pointed in the right direction in finding the birth certificates of the deceased and their parents.
Arkansas Vital Records also has birth records dating from February 1, 1914 through the present. There are a limited number of birth records available prior to 1914. Those records were filed with Arkansas Vital Records after 1914. They also have original copies of some Little Rock and Fort Smith births dating from 1881. Additionally, Arkansas Vital Records has marriage records dating from January 1917, and divorce records dating from January 1923. Arkansas Vital Records does not have the actual marriage license or divorce decree. If you want a copy of the actual license or decree you must contact the County Clerk or Circuit Clerk office where the marriage or divorce was recorded. Arkansas Vital Records issues a certified copy of the coupon of marriage or divorce in paper form which is accepted by all state and federal government offices.
Arkansas Vital Records Statute 20-18-305 does not allow Arkansas Vital Records to release marriage and divorce coupons to the general public. (The County Clerks office where the event was recorded may operate under different rules.) The Vital Records Statute does permit the Division to release to specific persons who are related to the registrant and to their designated representatives, to academic research groups, and to persons who can demonstrate a right to the record.
Visit the Arkansas Free Public Records Directory to access their brand new death records database. There you will also find access to obituaries and cemetery inscriptions, voter registration records, public library genealogical resources, and the Arkansas History Commission’s catalog of archived records that include military records, obituaries, land records, county court records, marriage records, wills, tax records, and more. The Free Public Records Directory provides thousands of links to public records searches for each state and county in the United States. You can search for information by record type, state, county, municipality, or zip code.