Saturday, November 15, 2008

CORONER’S INQUEST DATABASE

An online index and finding aid for coroner’s inquest records for various Missouri counties:

“The Coroner’s Inquest Database is an abstract of records that have been indexed and are available for online research. The original records are available on microfilm at the Missouri State Archives. The database contains records from various counties, the City of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Medical Examiner.

Generally-accepted privacy guidelines advocate the release of records for public use seventy-two years after creation. Given the unusual visibility provided by the Internet, the Coroner’s Inquest Database follows this standard, and additional records will be added accordingly and automatically as they reach seventy-two years of age.

In Missouri, the coroner is a county official, usually elected, who investigates and creates records for deaths that occur under accidental, questionable, unusual, or suspicious circumstances. Coroner’s records contain unique information about the men and women who died in Missouri. Though initially produced for the purpose of studying a particular cause of death, the information recorded can be analyzed for genealogical facts. Use of the Coroner’s Inquest Database can provide specific information about an ancestor’s death, as well as interesting insights into Missouri’s past. Researchers can also use the database to locate original records for the study of such topics as public health, social violence, ethnic communities, and urban development.

In addition, details in the coroner’s records often point to records for additional genealogical and historiographic research. For instance, the inquest testimony and reports can imply relationships that are not otherwise specified. Friends and family often offered sworn statements. If the inquest interview is conducted with a translator, it could indicate immigrant status, leading to a search of naturalization records for citizenship status. If a criminal investigation is suggested or inquest verdict given, researchers may want to consult circuit court records or penitentiary/prison records for additional information.

The database search engine allows searches by county, name of deceased, cause of death, and/or year of death (or range of years). A keyword search function is also available. The database offers the following information abstracted from the original records:

· Case number
· Name of deceased
· Age or date of birth
· Race
· Gender
· Date of death
· Cause of death
· Location of death
· Microfilm reel number
· Box and file number for original record”

LINK

Note: You can search by Name of the Deceased, or Cause of Death. You may be surprised by the results of searching Cause of Death using these search terms:

Horse
Mule
Outhouse
Visitation

And, lest you persist in believing that violent crime is a recent phenomenon, try using these search terms for Cause of Death:

Beat
Gunshot
Homicide
Stab

Did they punish violent criminals? In some cases, certainly: try searching Cause of Death using this search term:

Execut (finds incidences of Executed or Execution)

If you search for Hanging as Cause of Death, returns will include (numerous) instances of suicide as well as Legal Executions.

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