A valuable collection for researching Irish immigrants is the “British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986.” This collection, on FamilySearch, begins in 1872 when registration began. All you have to do is put in the word “Ireland” for the birth place, and leave the name blank, to get an idea as to how many Irish were in the province.
Information on the Death Form
The death forms vary in information provided. Much depends on the time period, and what was required for a particular death. They were submitted by district registrars, and then registered by the registrar or director of Vital Statistics. The death records can include a supporting “Medical Certificate of Death,” which concerns physician or coroner information. However, this medical information was not regularly included until 1896, and not for every death until 1912. Concerning a still birth, be aware, these may have been registered as a birth a death or both.
Typically, a certificate may include all or part of the following information
- Name, age and gender
- Date and place of death
- Date and place of birth
- Cause of death
- Marital status
- Parent’s names
- Name of spouse
- Name of physician
- Registration district name or number
- Date and number of registration
- Religious affiliation
How Complete are the Records?
As with civil registration anywhere, the early years can prove frustrating for the family historian. The death registers are no different in British Columbia. You often will not find a registered death because people lived great distances from the registry offices and had very little if any communication with cities and towns.
The FamilySearch Database
When using the FamilySearch database, remember there are some interesting ways to manipulate the data. You always have to be aware of spelling variations, so test several spellings such as Byrne, Bierne, Burns and then put an “O” in front. This will help you not miss anything. Another strategy would be to use the “Parent” search or the “Spouse” search. This allows you to sometimes find missing people or entries which have been incorrectly indexed.
This is an excellent database from which you can browse the 1,113,866 images or utilize the index to the 898,889 indexed records (as of 9 May 2014).
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