Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pennsylvania Birth and Death Public Records Report

Recently some records have been made available in the State of Pennsylvania. For details, please visit this website:

As I have many ancestors in Pennsylvania I wanted to see what records I could find and order them if need be. The website talks about:

Act 110 – Public Records

(formerly known as Senate Bill 361)

It says: "This legislation provides that such documents become public records 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death." Looking at this means that only births before 1906 would be available. On the website, they only have 1906. But for deaths, it would be for years prior to 1961. Looking at the site shows that these records start in 1906. Each type listed by year.
Creating a report shouldn't be an issue. But, this list is not indexed, nor can it be searched. Browsing the lists is required. This isn't too bad as when you get into the website, the break down the list alphabetically.
EXCEPT, from the website: "Several years of indices (1920-1924 deaths and 1930-1951 deaths) are listed according to the Russell Soundex method of indexing." Soundex, when was the last time we had to use a Soundex, but this one is very specific. The Russell Soundex is a link to a simple worksheet on how to us it.
Cheyney [ C heyNey ] becomes C 500
Bartram [ B aRTRam ] becomes B 636  
Parameters are, for death records, 1906 to 1961.
In Family Tree Maker (Version 2012), a Custom Report can be run. Since it might be easiest if the Dates were obvious in the report. So, go to the Publish Workspace, Person Collection and select Custom Report.

That generated a 346 page report, for this file. Not very helpful, but it's a start. Next will name the report Pennsylvania Death Records, then select Items to Include:

The title is filled out, and to the upper left of that title is the Items to Include ICON. Clicking on that will bring of the above screen, where the Death Fact as been moved to the top of the list with the Up Arrow, just below the Red "X" and the Sort Order will be Death Date, followed by the Name. Still at 346 page report.

The next step will be to Select the Individuals for the Report. The default is Immediate Family, but we'll select Selected Individuals. The first thing is to Include Everyone who has Died in Pennsylvania, based on the information in my file. Filter IN, the individuals with a Death Fact PLACE that contains Pennsylvania.

That will reduce the list of 8,310 down to 144. Those names will move into the Right Hand panel.

Because there are only a certain number of years available, we can then Filter OUT those who died BEFORE 1906. Clicking on Filter OUT, we'll select Death Date is Before 1906.

Down to 48 people, but there is no information for anyone who died After 1961. Filter Out again, where the Death Date is After 1961.

This gets us to the report to use for this record set for Pennsylvania.

Here is a piece of that report, where the names within the Red Box will use the Russell Soundex.

Of the 28 people on this report, I was able to locate 27 records. In most cases the data that I had, contained the correct Death Date, a couple contained a different Place Name, and found one record for a cousin what had been trying to locate birth information about her mother.  The place name differences, from what I can tell, without the actual record, was a much closer place of death. Other records showed the neighboring town, while these records showed the Township where the person actually. The town was the closest hospital.

Copyright © 2012 by H R Worthington


  1. Hi Russ - just went through this exercise with FTM16, but with almost 200 records to search for, I'm not finished at the website yet. FTM16's custom reports are on a single line, which is ideal for export to a spreadsheet program where data can be manipulated further (adding soundex codes, tracking completion, etc).
    Can the current version of FTM also format reports as a single line?
    How did you deal with married names and date ranges?

  2. bgwieble,

    There are a lot of differences between Version 16 and Versions after 2008. The quick answer to your "single line" question is no.

    I used to do a lot of Exporting to EXCEL with the Custom Reports (Version 16 and earlier) but haven't for quite a while. I know they are useful, but I have come to like the current version better.

    You have more control over the output and the filter feature really works well.

    I could go on, but won't. Except, when I was going to a place where I couldn't take a computer I would take 3 or 4 reports. With the Current version, I only need ONE and it is far more complete. I have blogged about that.

    For Married Names, I just wrote on my print out what the married name was. I could probably have added that to the report, but for this purpose, I just wrote the married name(s) on the print out.

    Hope that helps,


  3. Excellent post! Question, if I save this report and add a new person to my tree that fits the filter, will this person appear the next time this same report is ran/generated? In other words, is the filtered list of people automatically updated each time the report is generated with out reappling the filters?

    My experience is, it is not and I'm looking for a way to update the results of the filter with out reappling the filters from scratch each time. Any idea?

    1. Anonymous,

      No, you need to refresh your filter.

      I try to name the report in such away that I know what my filter was.


  4. Thanks for the reply. I just got off the phone with Family Tree Maker support and they said the same thing.

    If I create the report today, work on the tree by adding, subtracting, modifing people, and then 6 months from now I want to use the same report, in order to see the new people, I need to refresh/re-apply/re-create the filters/report. LAME.

    Suggested as an improvement. Thanks again.

    1. Anonymous,

      Do as I did. Use the Help, Online Help Center, and the Enhancement Request Webpage and provide them with the DETAILED Enhancement Request.

      Again, the Report Naming is how I keep track of my Filters.



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