The Missouri Death Index

A free searchable database of 3,081,382 deaths registered in the state of Missouri between 1968-2022

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NEWLY UPDATED with records added for 2016-2022

  • A new project from
  • using data obtained from
  • under the Missouri Sunshine Law

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Given Name Middle Name Surname Date of Death View Certificate

Order a Missouri death certificate

Now that you've found someone listed in the Missouri Death Index, here's how you can order a copy of the actual death certificate.

Order from the Locality

Short Form Faster

"Short form" Missouri death certificates can be ordered from local public health agencies, usually at the county level. Some, but not all, of these agencies offer online ordering through their department websites. See the list of contact information on the Missouri DHSS website.

Ordering vital records from a local public health agency is usually a faster way to get a record than by going to the state, but it does require you to already know which locality (town, city, county) holds the record you want.

Order from the State

Short Form Long Form Slower

Both "long form" and "short form" certified copies of death certificates can be ordered directly from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) in in Jefferson City, Missouri. They accept mailed-in applications (with proper notarized statement), or you can call them to make an in-person appointment.

You may need to include a "tangible interest document" or signed notarized statement authorizing release of the record.

Read the Missouri DHSS website for full information about how to place an order with them.

Order from VitalChek

Short Form Long Form Fastest Expensive

You can also order a copy of a Missouri death certificate from the VitalChek website, which is run by Lexis-Nexis, or by calling them to place an order over the phone. They even offer overnight shipping.

However, VitalChek adds on a substantial shipping and processing fee to all vital records orders, not just the overnighted ones. And after placing your order, you may still need to fax them your "tangible interest document" or notarized statement. They are a third party commercial vendor, not a government agency.

Who can get a Missouri death certificate?

In Missouri, all family members, genealogists representing a family member, and professionally recognized genealogists are eligible to receive copies of death certificates. Others may demonstrate a direct and tangible interest when information is needed for determination or protection of personal or property rights.

Read the Missouri Code of State Regulations - 19 CSR 10-10 or check out the detailed examples on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) website for more information.

All Missouri death certificates more than fifty years old (i.e. pre-1973) are available online for free public view at the Missouri Secretary of State's "Missouri Digital Heritage" website. Starting in 1955, those death certificates also have the deceased person's parents' names and spouse's name indexed as well. The state adds new batches of images to that website on a regular basis.

See a name's popularity through time in Missouri

Want to see a particular given name's waxing and waning popularity over time? Enter a common (or uncommon) given name like "Mary" or "Esther" or "Jack" or "Rudolph" in the box above, and hit enter. You'll see a graph of the popularity for just that one name, taken from the past century of Missouri death data.

You can also use an asterisk to do wildcard searches. For example, a search on "Jen*" will return the sum of results for the names Jennifer, Jenny, Jenson, etc.

Try your own name, too!

About the Missouri Death Index

The state of Missouri wasted over $200,000 in taxpayer funds trying to prevent the release of this public information, and the creation of this website. It took a four-year court case to make them follow the law.

In February 2016, the non-profit activist group Reclaim The Records asked the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) for a copy of the state birth index and state death index, by making two requests under the Missouri Sunshine Law.

Initially, it didn't seem like these would be difficult or controversial requests. This basic index data, just names and dates of people who were born or died in the state, were explicitly declared to be open to the public under Missouri state law, not restricted. The information was already in text format, stored in a big state database. DHSS had provided small subsets of the same kind of data to many other requesters before, including journalists, for decades.

All that DHSS needed to do was create an invoice for the requests, using the actual number of hours that a DHSS staffer would need to spend working on them, billed at that employee's usual hourly rate. Then DHSS would ask for and receive payment. And then they would send over the files, either electronically or on a USB drive.

And that would have been the end of it. But that's not what happened.

Screenshot of Missouri law
Screenshot of e-mail from former Missouri State Registrar Garland Land

E-mail from former Missouri State Registrar Garland Land, obtained during lawsuit discovery, where he advises DHSS staff to break the Missouri Sunshine Law, first by illegally denying data access without a proper justification, and then by trying to change existing state law to prevent anyone from ever accessing the data again.

DHSS knew that Reclaim The Records wanted to put the full state index, almost a century of data, online for free public use, for the first time ever. (That would be this website here!)

But if that happened, it would also mean that DHSS probably wouldn't be able to make any more money selling subsets of that same data over and over in future years, which was revenue that normally would have gone right back into their agency budget.

So DHSS concocted what Judge Patricia S. Joyce would later call "The Secret Plan to Deny the Sunshine Law Requests".

DHSS staff e-mailed the recently retired State Registrar of Missouri, Garland Land, and asked him for advice about the data requests.

Land brazenly advised them to break the Sunshine Law.

And DHSS followed Land's illegal plan completely. Missouri decided to manufacture an absurdly high price estimate for the data extracts, hoping that would make Reclaim The Records give up on their requests and go away, leaving DHSS free to continue selling this legally-unrestricted public data as a monopoly.

DHSS shamelessly quoted an estimate of nearly $1.5 million dollars for the production of the two simple data extracts.

And just as Land had suggested, DHSS then tried to use the ensuing months of delay and legal wrangling as an opportunity to try to ram a new bill through the Missouri state legislature, changing the existing open law and locking up the data forever.

(The actual cost for the data was eventually declared by Judge Joyce to be only 0.17% of that estimate, about $2500. And to their credit, the Missouri General Assembly refused DHSS' request to change the law.)

Screenshot of original cost estimate sent by Missouri DHSS

So Reclaim The Records sued the state of Missouri

And to make a long story short, we kicked their ass in court.


AUGUST 9, 2016

After several months of haggling about the price of the records under the Missouri Sunshine Law, the Department of Health and Senior Services suddenly attempted to claim that these records were not actually available under the law at all!


AUGUST 24, 2016

Our attorney responded to the Department's letter, wherein he helpfully pointed out to them that they were breaking the law. He also warned them that we would be filing a lawsuit if they did not comply with the Sunshine Law. But the state never bothered to respond, nor refute any of the letter.


NOVEMBER 23, 2016

Having received no answer to our attorney's letter, we filed in court against the Department in the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri on November 23, 2016. The case was bounced around to at least five different Missouri Assistant Attorneys General before finally being decided.


APRIL 15, 2020

We won! Here's the judge's acceptance of our motion for summary judgment. We won the records. We won over a hundred thousand dollars in attorneys fees. And we even won $12,000 in fines, for four separate "knowing" and "purposeful" instances of Missouri DHSS breaking the law.

Read more details about our win, and some fun commentary, from our newsletter...

...and check out how the press covered our case!

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