A great (relatively new) resource for genealogy data is the new LDS site, which can be found at http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html. It contains records that volunteers have been indexing the last year or so. Two of my favorite databases on that site are the Philadelphia Death Records and the Philadelphia Marriage Index.
The Philadelphia Death Record database is indexed by the decedent as well as other names that may appear on the certificate – usually parents. I have found a few cases where I believe the indexer may have mis-read the name, but generally the index is very good. One thing that is particularly nice about this database is that with one click you can copy the transcribed information to your computer’s clipboard. I like to do this and paste it into the source text field of my genealogy program. There are also images for most of the records. You can view them online and also download them to you computer if you choose.
The database includes records from the years 1803-1915. This, of course, pre-dates the time when the state of Pennsylvania officially required death certificates. Some of the early records are actually cemetery records, physician returns and other types of records. Occaisonally there are records of people who died elsewhere and are having the body moved to Philadelphia for burial.
This database is a great resource. You should definitely check it out if you are researching families that lived in the Philadelphia area during the stated time period. (I’ll have more on the Philadelphia Marriage Index database in another post.)