Montana State Death Indexes

Links to the actual indexes appear at the bottom of this page.

The following instructions and information file was prepared by Del Harris and Paul Dunham to document the data sources, outline the contents of the indexes, as well as to indicate noted omissions. It also identifies how the Pre-1954 data was collected, and how the accuracy was maintained. 

1. Collection and Preparation of Pre-1954 Death Records

The Montana Bureau of Vital Statistics and the Montana State Genealogical Society established a joint venture to computerize the Pre-1954 death indexes. The Bureau arranged for the copying of the original vital records books [available at the Bureau of Statistics] and provided these copies to MSGS.

Many of the “early years” deaths in Montana were not recorded either locally, or state registered. The earliest death in this file was recorded in 1882. Until a formal system was established well after statehood for reporting, the information about a person’s death often went unreported. In looking for an ancestor in these early years, the best sources are diaries, cemetery & grave records, biographies of either the individual, relative or a friend, Bibles, and occasionally news or magazine articles.

Originally, this data was transferred to an Access database. In September 2011, it was converted to Excel 2007. It is not compatible with earlier versions of Excel. The Pre-1900 Dates are in one file and from 1900 on, the data is grouped by ten-year increments. The Pre-1954 data contains the following column headings: Index Number, Last Name, First Name, Middle, Sex, Age, Location, County Number, County Name, Item Number, Day, Month, Year, Date of Death and Comments.

There are several caveats related to the use of this data:

1. From the early 1800’s to 1918, the index numbers assigned by the Bureau of Vital Statistics, have no county designations. Anyone needing this information to find the death certificate would need to contact the Montana Bureau of Vital Statistics.

2. If no death day or month was available, a “1” was used in either instance.

3. If the index number did not show a county prefix (after 1918), a “ZZ” was inserted to designate the county is unknown.

4. Any child under a year of age is shown with an age of “-1”.

2. Collection and Preparation of 1954 through 2002 Death Records

This is material is a direct copy of the database material prepared by the Montana Bureau of Vital Statistics. Both sets of indexes are similarly organized, but these records have less information presented, as the numbers of deaths have significantly increased.

1. A period (“.”) placed into the county field means that it is an “Out of State” death record.

2. When printing data from the state’s death indexes (1954-2002), change print mode to “landscape” to print material on a single page.

3. An “*” alongside of the name means that it is recorded in the father’s name. Either this person was stillborn, or was never named.

The Montana State Genealogical Society wishes to thank all the Society members who volunteered their time and effort to the project. It is also acknowledged the project could not have been completed without the great assistance from James Edgar, Montana Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Locations & Corresponding County Numbers Used in Earliest through 1953 Montana Death Index

Index of Earliest Montana Death Records through 1953

Index of Montana Death Records 1954 – 2002

Contact Us

Montana State Genealogical Society
PO Box 5313
Helena MT 59604