The Grand Forks County Coroner is charged with the responsibility of investigating any death arising from suspicious and unusual circumstances, including criminal or violent means, suicide, accidents, and sudden death when in apparent good health. The coroner is a licensed medical doctor in good standing in the profession, and is appointed for a two year term by the Grand Forks County Commissioners.
Source: North Dakota Century Code, Chapter 11-19.1
The Grand Forks County Coroner Certificates date from 1882-1989. The collection consists of 3255 certificates, along with two index books.
The early certificates, dating from 1882 - circa 1906, were not given formal certificate numbers, and instead were filed alphabetically by the last name of the deceased. Some of these early certificates were given a page number from an index book. The page numbering scheme dates from 1903-1906, although some certificates from these years were still filed alphabetically without page numbers. Formal certificate numbers began in 1906, after which each certificate was filed numerically.
The original order of the certificates was maintained. Certificates filed alphabetically without a certificate number are arranged first (Box 1 - Box 2, Folder 36), followed by those certificates which were given a page number (Box 2, Folder 37 - Box 2, Folder 75). The certificates which were given a formal certificate number are arranged last (Box 3 - Box 13). Original order was also kept in housing certificates within individual file folders. The majority of the certificates were processed so that the contents of one certificate are housed in one file folder. Until 1956, many files were quite voluminous, consisting of many different forms, including: the testimony of the coroner as well as witnesses before coroner’s inquests and state’s attorney’s inquests, statements of the coroner’s expenses, an inventory of possessions found on the deceased, reports of the coroner as well as formal death certificates. A very small percentage of the folders contain either newspaper clippings or photographs. After 1956, the majority of certificates are only a single sheet of paper, and hence multiple certificates are housed in each folder.
The Coroner Records can only be viewed by relatives of the deceased. According to the North Dakota Century Code, Chapter 23-02.1-27: "Information in vital records indicating cause of death may not be disclosed except to a relative or personal representative of the deceased, to the attorney or the agent of a relative or personal representative of the deceased, to the child fatality review panel, or upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction."