Finding Birth Information From 13 Sources

Finding Birth Information

Finding birth information from 13 sources. We know about census records, obituaries, and naturalization records. Do you know about births at sea and passports.

The following list that I put in alphabetical order was created by Juliana Smith of Ancestry.com.
Generally we are use to looking at birth records, census records and death records for finding birth information.

Most of the comments are mine.


1. Bibles, family bibles usually have a page or two for writing down births, marriage and death information. if you do not have one, ask your relatives if they may have a bible.

2. Births at Sea, these births were often noted in passenger lists. Also death information can be found in the passenger lists. The baby may not have a name but would be listed along with the parents and siblings.

3. Cemeteries, the tombstones and markers in cemeteries might have just the year of birth or they might contain the month, day, and year. Do not forget to check with the sexton, to see
their record books for this and more information.

4. Census Records, The U.S. Federal Census records give varying information as to birth and age. 1790 thru 1840 listed only head of household and listed male and female by age category
and listed how many were in a particular category. 1850 thru 1930 listed all family members and anyone else in the household. Other residents could be family, boarders or laborers.

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5. Church Records, religious records often pre-date civil records. Many states did not keep birth, marriage and death records until late 1800s' and early 1900s.

6. Delayed Birth Records, proof of when and where a person was born was required, when filing for Social Security, Railroad pension and before the civil records were kept. Also during World
War II, steel mill workers were required to have proof of birth. In Indiana that was done by the County Clerk's Office. Both my father and my maternal grand-mother were steel workers
and I have their delayed birth certificates.

7. Marriage and Death Records, marriage applications are filled in by each party and should
be accurate. In most if not all states you have to show proof of age. Also note that the name of
the parents is asked for and it will show living or deceased at time of filing of application.

Death records information should be taken with a grain of salt. If the informant is surviving spouse or a child of the deceased, there can be mistakes, as the child may not have known the
grand parents. The spouse might think that the knickname of Bill meant her father in law's first name was William, when the was named John William Smith.

8. Military Records, include the birth information for the person in the military and often has birth information on family members. Military pension applications will show children and any grandchildren that are being raised by the grandparents.

There are draft registration cards. Many men had to register for the draft and never had to serve. There was the "Old Man's Draft during World War II. Men who were born on or after
April 28, 1877 and thru Feb. 16, 1897, who were not in the military.

9. Naturalization Papers, may have the birth date. The papers usually show birth place and/or place of last residence. It is also possible to find some information in the index of the
naturalization records.

10. Newspapers, newspapers are an excellent resource for genealogy information. We tend to forget to look for birth announcements. These announcements can be made by parents or in the society pages, or a hospital list showing births for the week or month.

11. Obituaries, we can find date of birth and even the place of birth in many obituaries. If the birth information is not listed but it may state the age of the person, such as 90, 95.
In this instant you can estimate the date of birth.

12. Passports, there have been passports for centuries, in the form of booklet or just a piece of paper. Our ancestors had to have a passport to do any traveling out of their country.

13. Social Security Death Index, birth information is asked at time of applying for social security card and also again upon the death of the recipient. Note the index lists people who died from 1962 thru to the present. My father died in 1960 and never been listed. My mother died in 1980 and is on the index.

Finding birth information in passenger lists that have births at sea or deaths at sea are not normally our first place to look.

Use this finding birth information as a reference to be sure you check as many sources as possible.

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