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Guide to researching Saint Louis City burial certificates, Jan. 1882 - Oct. 1908, on microfilm


The St. Louis City [Mo.] Burial Certificates microfilm set at the St. Louis County Library History and Genealoy Department is comprised of 121 rolls dating from January 1882 to October 1908. Although most of the information on the Burial Certificate form is the same as that on the Death Register (see number 2 below), it is useful to double check difficult handwriting, fading, or poor microfilming in the Death Register.

The Burial Certificates were filmed by the Missouri State Archives and include only burials in the City of St. Louis. However, it is important to note that in some cases, the decedent died somewhere other than the City of St. Louis and was brought to St. Louis City for burial, thus requiring a St. Louis Burial Certificate. When a death occurred outside the City of St. Louis, look for documents filmed with the certificate that possibly provide information about the place, date, and cause of death.

Follow these steps to check for a Burial Certificate in this microfilm set:

  1. Check the St. Louis Death Register Index CD-ROM (available on public PCs in the History and Genealogy Department) published by the St. Louis Genealogical Society. If a person's death is listed, record the St. Louis County Library film and page number from the listing. The CD-ROM index includes the volumes in the St. Louis Death Register entitled “Deaths Outside the City of St. Louis,” so check the index for all deaths that resulted in a burial in the City of St. Louis.
  2. Find your ancestor in the St. Louis Death Register microfilm. The information for each individual is on one line stretching across two pages in these volumes. The number on the far left hand side of the page, immediately before the decedent’s name, is the Burial Certificate Number.
  3. Using the date of death, check the list of Missing Months for which there are no microfilmed records.
  4. If the death date is not one of the missing months, check the month, year, and certificate number in the “Film Guide by Year" (see below) for St. Louis City Burial Certificates to find the microfilm roll number which will contain the Burial Certificate.
  5. If working with the microfilm at St. Louis County Library, the order of documents on each roll is listed on the side of each Burial Certificate film box. Check the box list,  as the permits are not always in perfect chronological order.


    If you are using the Burial Certificate microfilms at a research facility other than St. Louis County Library, check our online "Film Guide by Roll Order" (see below) to see how the records are arranged on each roll of film. This is important because the certificates are not always in perfect chronological order!

    If researching at a library or archives using the Missouri State Archives microfilm numbers assigned to this microfilm set, consult the listing of the Missouri State Archives film number for each St. Louis County Library film number in this set.

Is it a Burial Certificate or a Burial Permit?

The earliest records in this microfilm set (1882) have "Burial Certificate St. Louis" printed across the top of each document. The certificate recorded a death and gave permission for internment of the deceased body in a cemetery within the City of St. Louis. Because a deceased body could not be buried in St. Louis without this document, it was often referred to as a "Burial Permit."

With the passage of time, the heading at the top of the pre-printed form changed to "City of St. Louis, Health Department Certificate of Death." The arrangement of the information changed through the years, and the later records in the set gathered more information about the deceased.