Death Studies

This is a guide to library and other resources on death studies


Bibliography of Bioethics. 1975 – 2009.

Indexes and abstracts periodical articles, books, documents and AV sources in bioethics. To use this classified subject index, consult the contents for a listing of subjects, which includes determinations of death, allowing to die, euthanasia, terminal care, suicide. Sci/Eng Reference Z6675 E8 B53.

CQ Researcher


The Morgue: Mortuary Journals Database.

“The Morgue attempts to provide students, scholars and researchers with an on-line tool specifically targeted at the literature in field of Mortuary Science. The database can be searched by subject heading by scrolling through the subjects indexed list. The database can be searched by author’s name by scrolling through the authors indexed list.”

PubMed (1996]-)

Reference Works

Death and the Afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopedia. 2000.

From “Aaru” (an abode of the righteous dead in ancient Egypt) to “Yizkor” (Jewish memorial service for the dead), this encyclopedia examines afterlife beliefs, architecture, art, deities, funerary customs, and religious texts of ancient and modern cultures around the world. Includes a comprehensive index and a bibliography. Mugar Ref. X GT3150 T25 2000.

Death Dictionary: Over 5,000 Clinical, Legal, Literary and Vernacular Terms. 1994.

Compilation of terms dealing with death, with brief and objective definitions which cut across historical periods, cultures, classes, religions, disciplines, and professions. A thesaurus groups words under forty main categories, such as afterlife, grief, murder, and will. Mugar HQ1073 Q54 1994.

Encyclopedia of Bioethics. 5 vols. 1995.

Discusses the moral and ethical issues concerning such topics as the death penalty, death and dying, hospice, organ and tissue transplant, and end-of-life care. Theology Library Ref. QH332 E52 1995. Also in Science and Engineering Library Ref. QH332 E52 1995 and Pappas Law Library Ref. QH332 E52 1995.

Encyclopedia of Cremation. 2005.

International in scope, this work covers historical cremation sites, historical and contemporary cremation processes, legal and scientific procedures, rituals, architecture, art, and more. Includes an introductory essay, a 10,000-year chronology, worldwide cremation statistics, a select bibliography, and a detailed subject index. Mugar Ref. X GT3330 E53 2005.

Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2001.

From abortion to Zoroastrianism, contains 400+ entries, on death and dying in the humanities, medicine, the social sciences and the sciences. Mugar HQ1073 E543 2001.

The Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2005.

From “abandonment of the dying” to “wrongful death,” the 560 entries cover terms and concepts on issues of life and death relating to culture, economics, history, law, medicine, religion, and sociology. Useful appendixes include an advance care plan document, statistical data, a checklist for end-of-life planning, a list of organizations, a bibliography, and more. Mugar Ref. X HQ1073 C374 2005.

Encyclopedia of Ethics. 3 vols. 2001.

Contains more than 500 articles on topics in ethics and ethical theory, perennial moral problems, and political, social, religious and legal theory, including issues of life and death. Mugar Ref. X BJ63 E45 2001.

The Encyclopedia of Human Ecology. 2 vols. 2003.

Multi-disciplinary encyclopedia with 250+ entries examining human environments and human interactions and their impact on our health, quality of life, and natural and human-made environments. Covers such varied topics as adolescents, young adults, elderly and family issues, gays and lesbians, ethnic groups, juvenile justice, violence in teen dating, death, drugs, smoking, suicide, housing, and the men’s movement. Mugar Ref. GF4 E53 2003.

Encyclopedia of Suicide. 2003.

Following an introductory essay, the 500+ alphabetical entries includes celebrity suicides, myths, research, statistics, and topics such as physician-assisted suicide and suicidal terrorist attacks. Appendix materials include national organizations and crisis intervention agencies. Mugar Ref. X HV6545 E87 2003.

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century. 3 vols. 2001.

Arranged alphabetically with lengthy articles on all aspects of life in the U.S. in the nineteenth century. Use the table of contents in volume 1, or the systematic outline of contents and detailed subject index in volume 3 to locate your topic. Relevant topics include “death and dying.” Mugar Ref. X E169.1 E626 2001.

Handbook of Death and Dying. 2 vols. 2003.

Comprehensive, multidisciplinary, cross-cultural compendium of essays on death and dying, including such topics as cryonics, death in Chinese culture, and military combat death. Mugar HQ1073 H36 2003

Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2 vols. 2003.

International and multidisciplinary in scope, the 320+ articles encompass such topics as advance directives, the Black Death, near death experiences, Waco, widow burning, and zombies. Appendix in volume 2 provides descriptions of organizations in the field of death and dying. Mugar Ref. X HQ1073 M33 2003.


Assisted Suicide (Euthanasia): A Selected Bibliography. 2012.

ProQuest bibliography of current research.

Books to Help Children Cope With Separation and Loss: An Annotated Bibliography. 1989.

Guide to fiction and non-fiction books for children aged 3-16. Chapters on bibliotherapy, separation and loss. Topics include death, suicide, illness. Selected readings for adults. Educational Resources Library Ref. Z7204 S45 B47 1989.

Death and Dying: A Bibliographical Survey. 1991.

Annotated bibliography of books and articles on thanatology, philosophy, counseling the terminally ill, grief, death education and other topics. Mugar Z5725 D43 1991. Storage: Use Request Form.

Death and Dying in Children’s and Young People’s Literature: A Survey and Bibliography. 1988.

Bibliographic essays on the theme of death (folklore, death of pet, friend, relative, self) in children’s literature. Separate lists of books for adults and children. Educational Resources Library Ref. PN1009.5 D43 P9 1988.

The Dying Child: An Annotated Bibliography. 1988.

Includes citations to journal articles, books, chapters, conference papers, documents, pamphlets and dissertations. Arranged by category: general aspects, young children, adolescents, family, care-givers, physical care. Mugar Z6671.52 T47 B46 1988. Storage: Use Request Form.

Dying, Death and Grief: A Critical Bibliography. 1987.

Annotated list of books on thanatology since 1979. Unannotated lists of books on terrorism and the political uses of nuclear holocaust, megadeath and murder. Mugar Z5725 S55 1987 Storage: Use Request Form.

Near-Death Experiences: An Annotated Bibliography. 1990.

List of books, articles and theses on near-death experiences, arranged chronologically. Mugar Z6878 P8 B37 1990. Storage: Use Request Form.

Teen Suicide: A Selected Bibliography. 2012.

ProQuest bibliography of current research.


Fast Stats: Deaths/Mortality.

Number of deaths annually, death rate, and leading causes of death for Americans, from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Fast Stats: Leading Causes of Death.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Fast Stats: Life Expectancy.

Life expectancy data for Americans from the National Center for Health Statistics. Links to more comprehensive data and to related sites.

MMWR: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“The MMWR weekly contains data on specific diseases as reported by state and territorial health departments and reports on infectious and chronic diseases, environmental hazards, natural or human-generated disasters, occupational diseases and injuries, and intentional and unintentional injuries.”

Mortality Data from the National Vital Statistics System.

Links to news releases; fact sheets; data sources; data collection methods; publications; and more; on mortality, death, and life expectancy.

WISQARS: Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Diesase Control and Prevention.

“Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System is the Injury Center’s interactive, online database that provides customized injury-related mortality data  and non-fatal injury data. This data is useful for research and for making informed public health decisions.”


Atlas of United States Mortality.

“Released to the public on April 14, 1997, this atlas is the first to show all leading causes of death by race and sex for small U.S. geographic areas referred to as Health Service Areas (HSA’s). The 18 causes of death included in this atlas account for 83 percent of all deaths in the United States during 1988-92.”


American Association of Suicidology.

“A nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and prevention of suicide.”

Americans for Better Care of the Dying.

“A Washington, DC based organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans can count on good end of life care. Our goals are to build momentum for reform, explore new methods and systems for delivering care, and shape public policy through evidence-based understanding. We aim to accomplish these goals by focusing our efforts on fundamental reforms; such as, improved pain management, better financial reimbursement systems, enhanced continuity of care, support for family caregivers, and changes in public policy. ”

Boston Public Library Obituary Database.

“The Obituary Database is an index of obituaries that appeared in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Currently, this database includes obituaries published between 1953 and 2010.”

Dead People Server.

“The Dead People Server is a database of interesting celebrities who are long dead or newly dead.”

End of Life Issues.

National Library of Medicine/MedlinePlus web page on the End of Life, with links to general overviews, research, specific conditions/aspects of death and dying, dictionaries/glossaries, law and policy, organizations, and statistics. Related pages include Advance Directives, Bereavement, Hospice Care, and Suicide.

Find a Grave.

Database of 107  million grave records as well as graves of famous people around the world.

Massachusetts Commission on End of Life Care.

“The Massachusetts Commission on End of Life Care was created with a major goal…to improve the quality of life at the end of life. The Massachusetts Commission on End of Life Care is dedicated to making public education about end of life care a priority in the Commonwealth.” Includes End of Life Services Resource Guide and links to other organizations.

National Center for Death Education Library.

A resource center for clergy, educators, funeral service professionals, health care providers, hospice workers, social workers, therapists and the bereaved, the National Center for Death Education Library “provides a collection of print and audiovisual materials on all aspects of dying, death, and bereavement. These include suicide, AIDS, terminal illness, pregnancy loss, explaining death to children, and widowhood. Individuals wishing to visit the library and use materials on site are requested to call ahead of time.” The NCDE Library is a part of the Wadsworth Learning Resource Center of Mount Ida College, and supports the school’s degree programs in funeral service, mortuary science, bereavement counseling and funeral home management, as well as summer workshops in thanatology and other topics. The holdings of the Mount Ida College Wadsworth Learning Resource Center are searchable in the Minuteman Library Network Catalog. National Center for Death Education Library, Mount Ida College, 777 Dedham Street, Newton Centre, MA 02459 (617) 928-4649.

Obituaries: Death Notices, and Guides to Burial Places of Notables: A Research Guide.

New York Public Library research guide on locating obituaries, death notices, and guides to burial places of notable people in the U.S., France, and Great Britain.

Sociology of Death and Dying.

Sociology professor Michael Kearl at Trinity University in San Antonio has a Web site on the Sociology of Death and Dying. It covers such topics as death across culture and time, death and the social order, near death experiences, cemeteries, hospice, cryonics, suicide, homicide, accidental death and natural disasters, organ donation, and ghosts. Includes statistical tables and links to data sets on mortality and to other death-related sites.