The Nebraska Death Index

A free searchable database of 185,806 deaths in the state of Nebraska between 1956-1968, and free digitized images of the approximately 1.4 million entries in the death index for the years 1904-1955.

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  • A new project from
  • using data obtained from
  • under the Nebraska Public Records Law

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Given Name Middle Name Surname Date of Death County State File Number

Browse images of the index

The portion of the Nebraska death index covering 1904-1955 is only available as digital images, and is not yet in a text-searchable database format. Luckily, these images are easy to use and completely free.

Sample of Nebraska Death Index for 1904-1955

In 2019, the non-profit organization Reclaim The Records made a Nebraska Public Records Law request to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, asking for a copy of the state death index. Most states make some kind of index or finding aid like this available for their historical records, even if the actual certificates themselves may have some privacy restrictions. But Nebraska was unusual in that it had never before released this index for public use.

Although the state was initially reluctant to turn the records over, Reclaim The Records was successful in obtaining two parts of the index: 1956-1968, which is in a text database, and 1904-1955, which was only available in old books that had been printed from some long-ago state database, probably dating back to the punch-card era. But that old database apparently does not exist anymore. So Reclaim The Records paid the state of Nebraska to scan every page of those old books, thereby creating (or re-creating) the first-ever free digital copy of the 1904-1955 portion of the Nebraska state death index.

The surnames in the 1904-1955 portion of the Nebraska death index are listed by Soundex code, not strictly alphabetically by surname. Soundex codes are a way to group surnames that sound somewhat alike, despite having variant spellings. For example, in the image to the left you can see surnames that all have the Soundex code L-352.

The entries in the 1904-1955 portion of the Nebraska death index are then alphabetical by given name within each Soundex code.

You can calculate the Soundex value for a surname using this tool:

Calculate the Soundex value of a surname

Enter a surname:

The Soundex code for this surname is:

As you can see from the sample image to the left, many of the pages of the 1904-1955 section of the Nebraska death index also have handwritten additions or notations, usually in red ink.

Entries may have other notations, such as "Inf of" for "infant of", "S/B" for "stillborn", or "Sis" for "Sister", meaning a nun. However, it is still unclear what all the various notations mean, including the handwritten dates next to some entries, often from the 1970's or 1980's. They might be the date that a copy of that person's death certificate was requested from the state.

It is likely that various genealogy websites, companies, and/or non-profit organizations may work on projects to transcribe the information from these images, to create a real text database for the 1904-1955 portion of the death index. However, at least as of December 2019, such a dataset does not yet exist.

1904-1955, Book #2

Soundex codes B-631 to D-200 (see note)

Order a Nebraska death certificate

This record set is only the index to Nebraska death records. If you find a name of a person of interest in this index, you can then place an order for a copy of the original death certificate, which will have much more information on it, such as the person's place of birth, the names of the person's parents and spouse, and their burial location.

Nebraska death records prior to 1904

Nebraska did not begin statewide registration of death records until late 1904, and compliance was not complete for several years. However, some earlier death records were kept by city health departments.

For example, the city of Omaha has death records starting in 1873, and the city of Lincoln has death files starting in 1889. If your ancestor's death occurred in either of these cities contact the respective City Hall and request a search.

Some Nebraska counties also began recording deaths before statewide registration in 1904. Contact the county clerk for a record search and to obtain copies. Be aware that charges may apply whether a record is located or not.

You can also try checking out these free online genealogy resources for Nebraska deaths, obituaries, and burials.

Nebraska death records from 1904 - present

Nebraska is unusual in that it is a state that does not appear to have any year cut-off when historical death certificates, even uncertified "information only" or "genealogy" copies, can become open documents freely accessible to the public.

The only rules found online relate to obtaining certified copies of death certificates. The following groups are considered eligible to request these certified copies:

Legal parent; Spouse; Child; Attorney; Legal guardian or conservator; Custodian; Personal representative; Executor of the deceased's estate; or Other person showing lawful authority to act on behalf of the deceased

Furthermore, in Nebraska a requester must have and state a "proper purpose" to order a death certificate. But luckily, both "genealogy" and "historical research" are recognized as such.

How to order a Nebraska death record

You can order a Nebraska death certificate by postal mail, or you can drop off your request in person in Lincoln. You can also order online through a pay-for-access website called VitalChek, but they do add a hefty fee to the cost of the request.

To order by postal mail, fill out the official application from the Nebraska DHSS website, and send it to them at:

Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services

Division of Public Health

Vital Records

P.O. Box 95065

Lincoln, NE 68509-5065

You'll need to include their fee, which as of December 2019 is currently $16. However, you should verify that this is still correct by calling their 24-hour recorded phone message at (402) 471-2871 to check the latest fee.

You'll also need to include a photocopy of your official ID.

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