Birth records can provide a wealth of information about an individual. For those performing genealogical research, this information can be invaluable. Hitting a wall in your genealogy search can be frustrating and sometimes new birth records are all you need to get the ball rolling again.
Birth records document an individual’s full birth name, the exact date and time of birth and their parents’ full names. Depending on the time and location in which they were filed, you may also learn the parents’ social security numbers, address at the time of the birth, occupations and other pertinent details. These details can lead your genealogical research in new directions.
We tend to think of birth records as the standard documents provided in America today. A genealogy search for ancestors requires some tricky thinking, as in past times many different people could fill out birth records.
Doctors, priests, town clerks, and other individuals were often called on to complete the documents. As a result, they may be found in all sorts of different places that one would not commonly expect.
A common problem that people find when performing genealogical research is that old records may have been destroyed. Birth records were commonly kept loosely filed in semi-unprotected buildings.
It was not uncommon for a fire or storm to destroy the records of an entire town. If you cannot locate a specific official birth record, this could be the reason.
Your genealogy search will take many twists and turns and may lead you in unexpected directions. If you are unable to locate specific birth records, you might be able to discover similar records that will suffice.
If you can determine which church the family attended, you may be able to find baptismal records that contain much of the same information. School records may also provide similar documentation.
When writing for more modern birth records such as birth certificates, you need to have as much information as you can. In some towns, it is illegal to release birth certificates to anyone who does not know key information, but in most jurisdictions, it is more a matter of being able to locate the record.
Before writing for a birth certificate, try to be sure of the person’s first and last names and the year of birth.
You may also be able to search some of them online. Ancestry, Roots Web and other sites provide one-click database searches of a variety of records. You can also try the vital records office website for the city in question to see if the town provides a searchable database.
Anyone interested in genealogy would do well to obtain as many birth records for their ancestors as possible. The records provide vital information to the search for family history and can give a good portrait of family members and interesting clues to other people in the past.