Genealogy and Birth Records

Research using Birth Records

When beginning your genealogical research often the first place you want to look at is a birth record. When one thinks of a birth record, we tend to think of a Birth Certificate. We know we will find vital information such as exact date of birth, often the time of birth, parents and especially important the mother's maiden name, and place of birth, including town, county and state.

Excellent right? Absolutely. To a point. When researching your family history, you will quickly find that Birth Certificates only go back to 1900 and are often incomplete, depending on the state and county your grandmother or great grandmother was born in. When you find great grandma and who her parents were, you begin to search for birth records for them, however, if they were born say in 1883, you won't find an official vital record of birth issued by the state they were born in.

So where do you go from there? There are other ways to find birth records.

Resources for U. S. Birth Information

  • Census Records - The 1900 Census requested enumerators (census-takers) to include the month and year of birth for each individual in every household. Not an exact date, but extremely close and often the only record of month born for those individuals born in the nineteenth century.
  • WPA Records - Thanks to FDR, who created the WPA (Works Progress Administration), as one of their assignments was to preserve historical records, including indexes of vital records. Their books and indexes can be found at county levels, many available online.
  • Birth Indexes - Birth, Death and Marriage indexes are held by the counties of each state and vary greatly in the completeness and years covered. Many county historical societies have these records.
  • Marriage Records -Marriage certificates list date of birth but only date back to. Another resource are Marriage books. Marriage books are kept at the county level as an index and often search-able online. The indexes will refer to a Book (A, B, C, etc.) and page number that your record is listed on. Contacting the county to request a look-up of the marriage should result in at least the age of the bride and groom. This will give you the approximate year of birth and another documented source to add to your file.
  • Death Records -Obituaries are also a great resource for birth information. Often Obituaries are written including the deceased's birth date, place of birth, and parents. Of course death certificates provide excellent birth documentation, if the informant had accurate information.Grave markers also are an excellent source of birth dates.
  • War Records - WWI draft cards are an excellent source of birth information. Going back further are the pension records for the Civil War and the 1835 Pensioners Lists and Revolutionary War Pensioners Lists, recorded by state. Many of these records have been transcribed and are available online at state and county levels, historical societies and libraries.

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Comments 13 comments

Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Great place to start when you are looking for your 'family tree'!


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

This was very helpful, Missi! Thanks for the great advice!


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thank you Enelle for your comment, glad you enjoyed.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks Ann glad you found this helpful.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

There is a lot of fun finding out your heritage - can be lots of surprises fors ure - very useful resources here Missi.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

billyaustindillon, I feel the same, enjoy genealogy very much. Surprises are the best part. Though for a beginner it can be very frustrating if you are not sure where to look. So glad you found this hub useful. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

Another good hub. I am bookmarking these because I am going to get started soooooooooon.


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

HealthyHanna so glad you found this hub helpful. Good luck with your research! If you have any questions feel free to ask.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

MISSI, I ALSO HAVE BEEN WORKING ON MY FAMILY TREE FOR OVER A YEAR. THE INFORMATION YOU GAVE WILL BE A GREAT HELP TO THOSE JUST STARTING. WHERE WAS YA WHEN I NEEDED YA?!!!


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

JY3502, thanks for the early morning smile. Good luck with your hunt. I've been doing research nearly twenty years now and still working on it. I'm here for you. Any questions you need answers to just ask and I'll see how I can help.


joinphp profile image

joinphp 6 years ago from Tunisia

great post Missi!

thanks for it. Sometimes, online siters that offering birth or death records can help to build yoour genealogique tree. But you have to try the free ones

Http://www.replacementbirthcertificate.org/ can be a great help since it redirect you to government official records.

keep writing I like your words. Thanks


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California Author

joinphp thank you for visiting, glad you enjoyed. Thanks for sharing the link and compliment. Happy that you like my writing.


ken blair profile image

ken blair 4 years ago

Researching for genealogy is an interesting task to do for it completes who you are and makes you more aware of your family tree. Nice hub.

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