Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG
The Frustrations of Finding People
Recently I was contacted by a library in another state. They were attempting to find out what had happened to a woman who formerly lived here, but whose whereabouts are unknown. It can be frustrating today to try to find a contemporary, whether or not that person is still alive.
Arizona death certificates issued in or prior to 1958 or are available at http://genealogy.az.gov/. After 1958 the records are covered by privacy laws. Arizona is a "closed record" state, i.e., death records are not considered public for fifty years. Due to privacy laws, recent death certificates are generally provided only to next of kin, an attorney hired by the estate, the family, or a person with a legal interest, or a descendant with valid proof of descent. Pima County death records are not even retained here, but are sent to Phoenix within thirty days of issuance.
For a number of reasons, among them violent death, contagious disease, unexplained death, absence of kin, or no physician in attendance, a death must be reported to the medical examiner. In those cases the body is sent to the Pima County Medical Examiner, 2825 E. District St., south of Ajo Way off Country Club. Medical Examinerís records are public, indexed and available to researchers.
The Green Valley News is archived on microfilm at our local library, but not indexed. If a death notice was placed in the local paper, the microfilm "Obituaries" columns may be searched, easier if date of death is known. Tucson newspaper Obituaries are online at NewsBank, a database available on the Pima County Public Library Website to persons with a library card who live in Pima County.
In the case of a person who dies in Pima County, Probate here is part of Superior Court. If the subject left a will it will be filed in Suprior Court, as will an estate settlement it the party died intestate. Superior Court records are indexed at http://www.agave.cosc.pima.gov/PublicDocs/. Images of records found in the index may be viewed on computer in the Legal Records office on the 2nd floor of Superior Court at 110 W. Congress St., Tucson.
Property records can be searched online via a database maintained by the Pima County Recorderís Office at http://www.recorder.pima.gov/pub_research.aspx. Images of entries found in the database may be viewed on computers in the Public Records section of the Recorderís Office at 115 Church St., Tucson. If desired, images may be printed at a cost of $1.00 per page.
A Google search may be useful for finding a person who has a Website, has posted queries to online sites such as the RootsWeb surname boards, Genforum, etc., or otherwise has a Web presence. Online White Pages may be searched if at least a surname and city are known. A search can be initiated with as little as a last name, but unless itís a very unusual name the number of entries returned would likely be unmanageable.
ZabaSearch, http://www.zabasearch.com/, is another online method for finding persons. Unfortunately, due to recent privacy laws the information returned is mainly just name, address, phone number, and sometimes birth date or list of persons associated with the person being sought. More information may be obtained for a fee, ranging from $9.95 to $39.95.
There is a lesson here for all of us. While we worry about preserving our historical research, we need to insure that our personal records are preserved also because it may be much more difficult for descendants to find us in the future than it is for us to find our ancestors today.
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23 July 2009