There is a great deal of American history in Massachusetts, and if you are looking for vital records, you will have several sources to direct your research. Some counties or towns will have very old Massachusetts death records back to the mid 1600s though there is no central database for finding those. You will need to make requests and town registrar offices to see what kinds of records are available.
The state began its own collection of birth and death records in 1841 but the current Vital Records office only has certificates starting in 1921. If you are looking between those years, they you will have to direct your requests to the State Archives. Both office will service record requests in person or by mail.
First, the Vital Statistics office is located at 150 Mount Vernon Street, 1st Floor, Dorchester MA, 02125-3105 USA. You can access their records on your own through their research room, or just drop off your application forms during normal business hours. The research room is only open a few hours per day.
The forms can be downloaded from their website (http://www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dph/vital_records/mail_order_form.pdf), and they are used for all types of vital records so make sure you indicate that you are after a Massachusetts death record when you fill it out. Provide the person's name, date of birth (or their estimated age), date of death, place of death and their social security number if you know it.
When mailing in a request, you also need to enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope along with a $28 USD check or money order to cover the search costs. You can pay with cash if you are visiting the office in person. Checks have to be issued to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mailed orders take around a month, and you are not issued a refund if they are not able to locate the exact Massachusetts death record you are seeking.
Next, if you are after records from before 1921 you will need to get in touch with the State Archives at 220 Morrissey Blvd, Boston MA, 02125 USA. As mentioned, their records go back to 1841 and you can do an index search online before making any formal records requests.
Their website (http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcsrch/VitalRecordsSearchContents.html) allows you to search by name, date and type of record. The results are just a name, date and place along with the page and volume number where the actual record resides in the archive's collection of microfilmed material. You can visit the archive during normal business hours and make your own copies of the records for just a small photocopy charge.
If you can't visit in person, they will do some searches for Massachusetts death records by mail. Send the same information that you would send the Vital Records office to identify the record. Their charges for this service is only $3 per copy, and they will issue a refund when records are not located.
How to request Massachusetts death certificates by mail:
If you are eligible to access Massachusetts death records, then you will need to complete a Massachusetts Death Certificate form to make a request by mail.
Obtain a copy of your photo ID and any other documentation supporting your need to access the record. You will also need to include a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope so that the record can be returned to you.
Return the paperwork, documentation, and envelope to the Vital Records Office. You will also need to include a check or money order covering the fee, which is $28 for a standard search. Keep in mind that it can take up to 30 days for the record to be returned to you when making a request by standard mail.
For additional information and all questions regarding accessing Massachusetts death records, you will need to contact the office below:
Massachusetts Department of Health & Human Services
Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
150 Mt. Vernon Street, 1st Floor
Dorchester, MA 02125-3105
Making Requests For Death Records in Massachusetts
Requesting Massachusetts death records needs to be done through the Office of Health and Human Services. The Office has maintained Massachusetts death records from 1916 until the present day, and it is able to provide them to authorized persons upon request.
Ordering Methods to Obtain Death Records
In order to make ordering Massachusetts death records easier, the Office has made records available through several methods. You can visit the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in person to make a request, or complete an application and mail it in to them along with the appropriate fees. Requests can also be made through an independent company, which processes all phone, fax, internet, and credit card requests.
Not All Records Are Public
Not all Massachusetts death records are available to the public. You will need to be able to demonstrate a legal right to access the record by providing a copy of your ID and any other documentation proving your need.