Records and Sources

California Vital Records

California vital records date back to at least 1905 with some counties having records farther back to 1824 (particularly Monterey County). Getting copies of these records is easier than in most other states. (more…)

24 May 2013

Arkansas Vital Records

Some counties will have their own Arkansas vital records from 1881 (particularly Fort Smith and Little Rock), but otherwise the state collection starts in 1914. If you need to get copies for genealogy, this is how you go about it.

Restrictions on Arkansas Vital Records
There are tighter restrictions on birth records than on death records, but if you are looking for recent documents in either case you will have to be a family member. Birth records become open to the public after 100 years, and death records do so after only 50. Anything newer will only be released to a relative, though they do not require that you be an immediate relative, which can be helpful for genealogy purposes. You will need to supply proof, such as a copy of your own ID. (more…)

23 Apr 2013

Arizona Vital Records

When you’re looking for Arizona vital records, the state collection will usually get started around 1909, and individual counties can have their own records back farther to 1887.

Restrictions on Arizona Vital Records
As with most other states, Arizona vital records do become public domain after enough time has passed. Birth records that are older than 75 years, or 50 years for death records. Anything more recent than that will require you to be an immediate relative of the person on the record. You will have to provide a copy of your own government ID to prove your identity. (more…)

23 Apr 2013

Adoption Resources

Having an adoption in your family tree can create a very tough brick wall to overcome. There is often legal issues, miles of red tape and hard-to-access records involved and older generations may not want to talk about “such things”. But it is not impossible to get past an adoption in your genealogy research as long as you don’t give up and know where to look.

Whether you are the adopted member or someone else, you will have a bit of work ahead of you to get past that into your tree. Here are some sites to help you with your efforts:

All About Adoption Research – This is a good article to get you started with adoption genealogy research. She lists out the places to look and the documents or information you’re going to need.

How to Start Searching – If you are the adopted person you are searching about, this is a great piece on helping you with those first steps to finding your birth parents. There is also good info if your adopted search is not about you. (more…)

29 Mar 2013

Alaska Vital Records

The state of Alaska only started collecting vital records around 1913, so the state will only have material going back that far which gives it a much narrower window for genealogy studies. Individual courthouses or even churches may have documentation that is older. (more…)

01 Mar 2013

Alabama Vital Records

Most vital records in Alabama will range from 1908, though some counties will have records older than that (back to 1880 if you’re lucky). If you need to get copies of birth or death records from Alabama, here is where you can get started on your search. (more…)

26 Feb 2013

Basics of Vital Records

vital records in genealogyVital records are the absolute cornerstone to any genealogy research so you really need to have a good understanding of these documents and what you can learn from them. The term refers to any files that pertain to a vital event in someones life, such as birth, death or marriage. Divorce records are sometimes grouped in here too.

These will create the basic framework when putting someone’s life together. And each of these types of documents can provide a lot more information than just a name and an event date. Some vital records can give you loads of data, but the specifics will vary from area to area since these are not standard documents in any way. (more…)

09 Feb 2013

Census Records

Census records are a valuable and unique form of genealogy resource and its certain that you’ll be using them at some point in your research. Knowing what they contain and how they work is a good first step.

In America, there have been national census counts since 1790 and there has been one every 10 years since then. They are not all available online, but you can find many years in searchable or transcribed databases.

The first 1790 census was pretty sparse and didn’t hold the same type of information you’ll find in later years. That count only had the name of the household head, counts of the number of males and females (without names) and the number of slaves owned. Some of the 1790 census records have been lost or destroyed over the years and are no longer available. (more…)

07 Feb 2013

Using a Microfilm Machine

using a microfilm reader for genealogy

A typical microfilm reader in a library

Even in today’s modern world of Internet and digital resources, there is a place for the lowly microfilm machine. If you are going to be doing any in-person genealogy research at smaller or older libraries, you’ll need to know your way around using one.

Over the years, many archives of newspapers and periodicals have been kept on microfilm because it takes up far less space and that was really the only format available at the time. Even old books may be kept this way. More and more libraries are moving towards digital options, old material is still on microfilm more often than not. (more…)

03 Feb 2013

Old Newspaper Resources

old newspaper research

Using old newspapers in genealogy

In this age of digital archives and online databases, its easy to forget the old-school sources like print newspapers. But you really should take advantage of old newspapers if you get the chance because you can find a lot of genealogy information in them.

Birth announcements, marriage notices and obituaries are the most obvious but there are other areas that a newspaper can help you with. You can find: (more…)

02 Feb 2013