Reclaim The Records wins and publishes the Nebraska Death Index, 1905-1968


Greetings from Reclaim The Records! We're your favorite little non-profit organization that picks fights with government agencies, archives, and libraries for better public access to genealogical records and historical materials. And we're back today to announce that we recently won and just released more free records, this time from the Midwest.

Introducing the first-ever publication of the Nebraska Death Index, now online for free public use at the artfully-named!

This is the first time that this data has been available to the public anywhere, in any format. Nebraska death certificates are open to the public after fifty years, but highly restricted for more recent years. Weirdly, the state of Nebraska only seems to issue certified copies, not uncertified/informational/genealogy copies, no matter how old the certificate is.

The 1956-1968 portion of the death index is in a text database format, freely searchable online (including soundalike names and wildcard searches), and you can even download the underlying CSV file if you really want. The 1904-1955 portion of the index was printed in eleven oversized books, which we paid the state of Nebraska to scan for us. Those books had all the years combined together, not separated out by year. Instead, the data is sorted by the Soundex code of the surname, and then alphabetically by given name within each Soundex code. So we added a javascript Soundex code look-up to the website to help you figure out what book to check.

(Shout-out to Moishe Miller, current president of the JGS of Brooklyn, who built a web page all about Soundex back in the year 2000 which is amazingly still online, which included a javascript implementation of the Soundex algorithm, which we partially repurposed for our website!)

For more information about how we fought the state to get the data released, please read our latest newsletter, which has all the details, as well as links to the actual records request we made, the initial denial of our request, the Nebraska Attorney General's Office overruling the denial, and the eventual capitulation of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services:

And should you feel like making an end-of-the-year donation to Reclaim the Records (a 501c3 non-profit), we would gratefully accept chocolate gelt, or even the real thing. ;-)

Happy Hanukkah, and happy searching!

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Founder and President, Reclaim The Records
Mill Valley, California

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