ASC staff will search the Coroner Case Files for free on your behalf. Please contact the Archives Service Center with the name of the deceased and approximate death date and we will search our database to look for a match.
If we locate a match and you would like a copy of the case file, you will need to complete and submit the following form along with payment for the copies and mailing.
The Coroner Case Files are part of this large archival collection. Other records include morgue reports, which provide information about bodies as they entered and exited the morgue, and coroner's office administrative files.
The Allegheny County coroner was required to hold an inquest to investigate any "sudden or violent death," which included suicides, homicides, and accidental deaths ranging from industrial accidents to disease or unknown causes. The official forms used by the coroner's office to document the investigation were retained together to form a case file. These coroner inquest files are public records open to all, as affirmed by the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office, and were created by the Coroner’s Office to satisfy public law.
In addition to the final inquest report, materials in the files may include eye-witness testimony, grand jury reports, physician notes, affidavits, press clippings and other documentation. Ephemeral material such as photographs, tissue samples, bullets, suicide notes, and other items have been retained with the original files.
The Coroner Inquest files at the Archives Service Center date from 1887 to 1973 with the exception of a five year gap of missing records spanning 1933 to 1938. It is also important to note than an inquest was not held for every person that died in Allegheny County during this time.
The Archives Service Center maintains a database which contains an entry for every Coroner Case File in our collection, totaling just under 214,000 files. At present, the database includes the first and last name of the deceased, their case file number, and the year their inquest was filed. As individual folders are pulled for research purposes, the deceased's age, race and cause of death are added to the database.
Due to the enormity of the database and the fact that it is always being updated with new information, it is not available for online browsing or searches. If you would like to request that Archives Service Center staff search the database for a particular name please follow the instructions in the second box on the left of this page.
In addition to the Coroner Inquest Case Files, the Archives Service Center also has death records from the Allegheny County Department of Public Health. A finding aid for this collection can be found below.