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About the History and Genealogy Index

The History/Social Sciences Department’s database contains indexes of historical and genealogical records in its local history collection. Funding for the History and Genealogy Index was provided by a generous gift from the late Dr. Marshall Koonce.

Source Descriptions

Memphis/Shelby County Death Index (1848-1945)

This index to identifiable deaths recorded within Memphis and Shelby County was created from the Memphis Death Register Books beginning in 1848; Memphis Burial Permits, 1902-1913; and Memphis/Shelby County Death Certificate Card Index, 1914-1945. Entries include the name, date of death, age, gender, and race of the deceased, as well the source record. This index also includes people who died in Memphis but were buried elsewhere and those whose bodies were brought back from another location for burial. In addition, there is a list of licenses granted to ship bodies through Memphis.

The name of the deceased may appear more than once since some deaths were recorded in more than one source. Some names are found twice because of disinterment and removal of the bodies. Often when this occurred, death dates, ages, etc. were listed differently in the original sources. The original death records are located at the Shelby County Archives ( and microfilmed copies are available for on-site use at the Central Library.

Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Index (1864-1865)

This is an index to the marriage records of African-Americans kept by the Memphis Field Office of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. It includes the groom’s surname, given name, age, military unit, the bride’s surname, given name, age, date, volume and page.

Yellow Fever Deaths Index (1878)

Mary Louise Nazor prepared this index of all identified Memphians who died in the 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic. Entries include the death date, full name, race and address. The index integrates all deaths listed in the following sources:
Keating, John McLeod. History of the City of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Citizens. Syracuse, NY: Mason, 1888.
Murtough, Peter. Condensed History of the Great Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878: Personal Sketches and Incidents, Full Particulars of the Father Mathew Camp, List of Cities and Towns Visited by the Scourge, and Names of the Victims of the Fever in Memphis. Memphis, TN: Toof, 1879.
Wingfield, Marshall. “Life and Letters of Dr. William J. Armstrong,” West Tennessee Historical Society Papers 4 (1950): 97-114.
1878 and 1879 Memphis city directories
Holst Funeral Records
Memphis Health Department Death Register
Shelby County probate records
Memphis newspapers from 1878

Requesting Copies

The Memphis and Shelby County Death Records are available on microfilm for on-site use at the History/Social Sciences Department of the Memphis Public Library and Information Center.

  • Visit our information page for directions and hours of operation.
  • Visit our contact page for correspondence information.
  • The History Department can be reached by telephone at (901) 415-2742.
  • Copies of death records can also be requested from the Shelby County Archives, 150 Washington Avenue, Memphis TN 38103, telephone (901)545-4356.


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