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HWST 341: Mo'okū'auhau: Hawaiian Genealogies Research: Death Records

Background Information

Registration of deaths was first required by law in 1859, but few records exist before the responsibility was given to the Department of Health in 1896. Records in the Department of Health are as follows:

  • Hawaii 1896-date
  • Maui & Molokai 1896-date
  • Kauai & Niihau 1862-date
  • Oahu 1862- date

Obituaries appeared in the newspapers as early as 1836 and there is an index in the Archives for 1836-1950. Newspapers indexed were primarily English language papers published in Honolulu. The printed index to the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star Bulletin issued by the State Library includes obituaries from 1929 to date. In both cases, obituaries, not death notice columns, are indexed and are selective. Death notices for prominent persons may be indexed as a news item rather than under obituaries. 

The Research Process

Getting Started - How do I find Death Records?
Death Records are found at the Department of Health. To obtain these records, you will need to consult newspaper indexes for obituaries and cemetery directories if you cannot find your kupunaʻs obituaries and you do not know their death date. The newspaper indexes are available at UH Mānoa and online.

First, start with the online genealogy indexes on Ulukau. They have Death Records in their Probate and Wills Indexes from the Hawaii State Archives for all the islands.