Vital records, as the title indicates, are generally associated with main life happenings: birth, marriage, and death. These types of records tend to be primary resources of family history and genealogical information and facts, however, regrettably, official public record information (those retained by county and state government authorities), can be obtained just for quite recent time periods. Marriage records, the earliest of the vital records, is going to be evaluated to start with.
Civil governments have created records of births, marriages, and deaths. Records containing this information are commonly called “vital records” because they refer to critical events in a person’s life. These are the most important documents for genealogical research, but the births, marriages, and deaths of many people have never been recorded by civil authorities.
Registering of marriages as well as approving cases of divorce in america tend to be quasi-religious, quasi-legal societal functions which have been affected as a result of christian faith, custom, and also British law ever since the original colonial settlements.
Any successful genealogist requires a comprehensive knowledge of the particular jurisdictions in charge of maintaining this info, the kinds of documents held by every single jurisdiction, time periods where numerous kinds of records have been preserved, situations distinct to each and every colony and state that came up with the requirement for registering marriages along with divorces, as well as the variables that created modifications in these registrations.
A problem is that often the U.S., unlike Great Britain as well as some countries in Europe, doesn’t have any nationwide registration system. Rather, marriage registration often is the responsibility of the individual states. Additionally, marriage registration has never been evenly applied among the many states.
Before state registration requirements, towns throughout New England as well as counties around the country had been the main jurisdictions faced with preserving marriage record information.
As a result, records will typically be identified dating from the time a town or county was established. A number of states for instance Pennsylvania and South Carolina, haven’t required subordinate jurisdictions to maintain marriage record information right up until current times.
Vital Records, in spite of their fairly recent origin, have become more and more helpful to the genealogist and definitely will become much more important as generations successfully pass. They may have limitations, however they can be employed successfully to help support or disprove established proof, to be able to make clear the course of upcoming research, and also to promote a far more complete family history and genealogy.
Keep in mind that modern-day vital records tend to be maintained by the state, however much older documents have been archived on the county level, if at all. For a number of good reasons, lots of people basically didn’t care to legally file births and deaths to the authorities, consequently some facts are only able to be discovered by way of church baptismal, christening, or funeral documents.
Additionally, a fantastic supplementary resource with regard to details concerning marriages tend to be church publications that printed marriage banns-the announcements produced by places of worship prior to a wedding ceremony, giving notice to people who may have cause to protest.
Family Records are the first sources to examine for vital statistics information.
Bible records, baptismal records, school records, scrapbooks, membership records for religious, patriotic, or social societies, military records, insurance records, and a variety of other records can contain important birth and death information. Some Libraries has collections of family Bibles that records births, marriages, and deaths.
Vital statistics about slaves belonging to a household may be recorded since it was important for the owner to document the ages of slaves for tax purposes.
Census Schedules for the U.S. (1790-1930) are available online. Prior to the 1850 census, only the name of the head of the household is recorded. Other household members are identified by number and sex within certain age groups.
Beginning in 1850 and continuing into the twentieth century, individuals in the household are identified by name, and their ages at their last birthdays are recorded. Information concerning place of birth of each individual and parents of each individual appear on subsequent schedules.
Special census schedules called mortality schedules are available for the census years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.
These schedules record the names and causes of death of individuals who died in the twelve months prior to May or June of the census year. They are arranged by county, and except for the 1850 mortality schedules, there is no index to the records.
While post 1930 census records at present are not available for public use, information abstracted from the records is available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Details and forms are available at the U.S. Census Bureau web site.
Church Records provide some of the earliest information concerning births and deaths. Prior to the American Revolution, vital statistics of members were recorded in local parish registers. Other religious denominations followed various practices concerning the recording of births, deaths, baptisms, and marriages.
Cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions also are helpful in establishing birth and death information. Researchers should contact local historical societies for information concerning records on, or the location of, family cemeteries.
Old Newspaper Records
Newspapers are a valuable source of birth and death information, especially after the 1850s when local papers became more numerous. Obituaries appear more frequently than birth announcements. In most instances, there are no indexes to vital statistics recorded in local newspapers. Newspapers published by religious denominations are also are helpful.
County Court Records
County Records often contain copies of birth and death registers. In many instances, indexes are available for both births and deaths.