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.
Helpful Free Links
- Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records
Find A Grave is a free resource for finding the final resting places of famous folks, friends and family members. With millions of names, it's an invaluable tool for genealogist and history buffs. Find A Grave memorials are rich with content, includi
- FamilySearch.org - Family History and Genealogy Records
Search for family ancestors. Billions of free family tree, family history, ancestry, genealogy and census records.
- Cyndi\'s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
More than 270,000 links! 260,000 links, categorized & cross-referenced, in over 180 categories. Another 10,000+ uncategorized new links in the works.
- Free Genealogy and Family History Online - The USGenWeb Project
Free genealogy and family history online made possible by the USGenWeb Project volunteers. Search free genealogy websites for your ancestors.