Source Information

Ancestry.com. California, Mortuary Records of Chinese Decedents, 1870-1933 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data:

Mortuary Records of Chinese Decedents in California Compiled by the San Francisco, California, Immigration Office, 6/2/1870 - 4/30/1933 . NARA Microfilm Publication A4040; NAI 2922416. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787–2004, Record Group 85. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.

About California, Mortuary Records of Chinese Decedents, 1870-1933

About this collection

This collection consists of California mortuary records for Chinese decedents, both native and foreign-born, dating from July 1870 to April 1933. These records were compiled by the San Francisco, California Immigration Office and reproduced on a single roll of microfilm, which has been digitized for this database.

The records consist of six volumes of registers (chronological lists) of mortuary records. Volumes 1 through 5 contain records of both native and foreign-born Chinese decedents. Volume 6 contains records only of native-born Chinese. Each volume is arranged in rough chronological order by the date the death occurred, or was recorded or reported. There is some overlap between volumes.

Volumes 1–3, July 1870–December 1907

These volumes consist of pre-printed fill-in-the-blank pages headed “Chinese Mortuary Record of the City and County of San Francisco, State of California”. The information, recorded in eleven columns, includes: date brought to mortuary, name, sex, age, occupation, place of birth, particular place of death, date of death, cause of death, place of burial, and physician. Beginning on September 2, 1890, the death certificate number is annotated to the left of the date brought to the mortuary.

Note: The division between volumes 2 and 3 is not noted in the records, but the stylistic differences between pages 333 and 335 (page 334 was not filmed) suggest that Volume 2 consisted of pages 198–333 and Volume 3 consisted of pages 335–464.

Volumes 4–5, April 1905–October 1918

These volumes consist of INS Forms Spl. 119, “Chinese Mortuary Records of the State of California,” which are pre-printed fill-in-the-blank three pages with the columns for name, sex, marital status, age, occupation, husband or wife of ___, birthplace, place of death, date of death, name of undertaker, and place of burial. The places of death include cities throughout California in addition to San Francisco. Deaths in Volumes 4 and 5 are generally in chronological order by year of death, then by month, but there is date disarrangement within the month. This disarrangement may be due to time lag since the decedents died all over California.

Note: Volume 4 was a leather-bound volume whose spine misleadingly read: “Spl. 119 / Chinese Mortuary Record / June 8, 1905–Feb. 26, 1918 / U.S. Department of Labor/ Immigration Service.”

Volume 6, October 1918–April 30, 1933

This volume consists of records for decedents whose race was noted as “Chinese”, if the person was born in the United States (including the Territory of Hawaii). Employees of the INS office searched INS files to attempt to locate records about each decedent to determine if there was an INS file relating to the individual and whether a fraud had been attempted upon the INS by persons using information about the decedent. A two-page memorandum precedes the list to explain how it was compiled and what the annotations mean in connection with records in the INS office.

The information in this description comes from The National Archives Catalog.