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Finding aid to the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Records, 1902-1956 (bulk 1906-1956)
SFH 30  
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Series 1 Death Reports and Coroner's Registers, 1906-1956

Physical Description: 616 volumes

Arrangement

Volumes bound chronologically by date of death, mostly one volume per month. 1906 and July 1929 consist of three volumes each.

Scope and Contents

Death Report volumes contain two-page (11" x 17") forms documenting individual deaths. Each death report is divided into five sections. Depending on the case, some or all of the requested information may be filled in. The first section records general information: date and time body is received; name of person reporting the case; name, address, telephone number, sex, color, age, nativity, marital status, occupation, and residence of deceased; time of death or time discovered dead; place of death; presumable cause of death; time body received at morgue; deputy's name; messenger's name; undertaker's name and address; signature of person who signed for the burial, and his or her relation to the deceased.
The second section, labeled "In case of accident, suicide, etc.: information prior to time of death," records time, place, and nature of accident or suicide; time/date received in hospital; predisposing cause (if suicide); and date and verdict of inquest.
The third section, labeled "Autopsy Certificate," records date, name of deceased, date and time of autopsy, cause of death, and signature of physician.
The fourth section records names and addresses of witnesses, along with any information provided by them, and the signature of the person receiving the report.
The fifth section, labeled "History of the Case," contains narrative notes related to the death. By 1923, this section also includes a brief "Property Receipt" area.
As mentioned above, the Coroner's Register form has a re-designed and expanded format, titled "Record of Death." As with the Death Reports, depending on the case, some or all of the requested information may be filled in. Besides the information included in the Death Reports, Coroner's Registers include additional information on the decedent, disposition of the body, and notification or involvement of officials, as well as new categories of data on insurance, emergency hospital records, evidence, autopsy surgeon's report, result of inquest, property, disposition of property, receipt for clothing, and newspaper clippings. Some volumes contain cumulated statistics and indexes by last name in the prefatory pages.
 

Series 2 Personal Descriptions of Unknown / Unidentified Dead, 1902-1927 1931-1940

Physical Description: 6 volumes

Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Contents

This series consists of six volumes of death reports of unknown or unidentified individuals. The form lists when and where the deceased was found; name and address of person finding the body; and physical characteristics and features of the deceased, as well as clothing and property found on their person at time of death. Each report includes a photograph of the person's face and head.
Some entries include names entered once the body is identified, in which case the person is cross-listed in Series 1. Death Reports and Coroner's Registers.
 

Series 3 Necropsy Reports, 1928-1956

Physical Description: 345 volumes

Arrangement

Bound by month and year, with reports arranged chronologically by case number as body was received.

Scope and Contents

A necropsy, more commonly known as an autopsy, is the medical examination of a dead body by a specially-trained physician. The examination may be legally required (such as in the case of suspicious death including suicide, homicide, accident, etc.), but autopsies also may be ordered by the medical examiner or requested by next of kin. The scope of the examination can include the entire body, or it may be limited to a particular part of the body.
Necropsy Report forms request the following information: case number, name of deceased, date and hour of necropsy, age, height, weight, description of body exterior and internal organs, diagnosis, cause of death, notes on specimens taken for further study and the department to which the specimens were sent, and signature of Necropsy Surgeon to the Coroner. Depending on the case, some or all of the requested information may be filled in.
When specimens were sent to the Pathology or Toxicology Departments for further examination, those reports are amended to the Necropsy Report. Pathology Report forms request the following information: name of deceased, necropsy report case number, date specimen(s) received, identification of specimen, description of gross examination and of microscopic examination of specimen, diagnosis, cause of death, and signature of Pathologist to the Coroner. Toxicology Report forms request the following information: necropsy report case number, date of report, identification of specimen(s) and evidence received, name of deceased, date specimen(s) received, findings based on analysis of specimen, alcohol, barbiturate, heavy metal levels in blood, toxicological examination of evidence, and signature of Toxicologist to the Coroner.
Individuals entered in this series are cross-listed in Series 1. Death Reports and Coroner's Registers.
 

Series 4 Register of Deaths, December 1906-May 1915

Physical Description: 2 volumes

Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Contents

Volumes contain single-line entries for individual deaths, listed chronologically by date of death. The two-page format is headed "Register of Deaths Reported to the Coroner." Each entry includes date, name, color or race, age, sex, marital status, nativity, occupation, cause of death, crime if any, last place of residence or where found, autopsy if any and by whom, and remarks. Entries are cross-referenced with corresponding Death Reports and Coroner's Registers in Series 1.
 

Series 5 Coroner's Office Statistics, 1913-1931

Physical Description: 1 volume

Scope and Contents

This volume is divided into ten sections that broadly categorize individual deaths by industry, type of accident, or institution. Most sections include sub-categories; however, section 10 is solely for Automobiles. Within each section, entries record location of death, together with summary findings, recommendations, and verdict of the inquest jury. Entries are cross-referenced to page number, month, and year of corresponding Death Reports and Coroner's Registers in Series 1.