I have a copy of my grandfather's VA Form 3-7202a which lists his date of death and his Service Number. Can I use this to track down a location of death and a death certificate? I have no other leads for this info.

1 Answer 1


Presumably you found the index card for your grandfather from FamilySearch's United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940 (where the images are online) or from a pointer to it like Ancestry's U.S., Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940, which is index-only.

Try searching for your grandfather in all the available indexes and databases which are relevant to veterans of his era, then use the information you find as prompts for future searches in other datasets and in historical newspapapers, in unit histories and local history books, etc.

If you do not have a subscription to Ancestry or fold3, start with the indexes on free sites, and check your local library, an LDS Family Center, or your local genealogical society for access to Ancestry Library Edition, fold3, and other databases. Do read the "About the Database" content at Ancestry and the description of the database elsewhere, or the "Scope and Content" guidance, so that you understand the limits of the databases you're searching. (You don't say when your grandfather died, so I may have included some databases that are out of range for his death. I include these links for future readers who may need them.)

To find historical newspapers that can be accessed for free, start with directory sites like The Ancestor Hunt, Wikipedia's Free English newspaper sources, Cyndi's List: Newspapers, collections at Veridian Software or papers in online digital collections, before moving to the pay sites. Search newspapers in all areas where your grandfather had relatives, since obituaries are often copied to out-of-town papers, or out-of-town relatives can pay to have obituaries in their own home papers. Check obituary indexes in the areas where he lived, which are often hosted by local public libraries, as well as nation-wide obituary indexes like Ancestry's U.S., Newspapers.com™ Obituary Index, 1800s-current and FamilySearch's United States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011.

Note that if your grandfather's remains were transported across a jurisdictional boundary before he was buried, there may be more than one death certificate. This could be in different states or even different counties in the same state, if the cemetery is across the county line from the place where he died. Ordinarily these would have the same information, but it isn't guaranteed, since people sometimes handwrite notes on copies after they are made. See Judy G. Russell's posts Death in the Wrong Place and Following Up on Death from her blog The Legal Genealogist.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.