FINDING U.S. BIRTH RECORDS ©2023 Donald R. Snow - Page last updated 2023-10-17
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ABSTRACT: Vital records include birth, marriage, and death records. Certified copies of such records are usually available in the United States from government agencies, e.g. state, county, or city. Most genealogical uses of vital records do not require certified copies and there are many websites with compiled records and some even original records. This class will discuss finding birth records online and how to save and use them. Copies can be used in your genealogy database and posted on places like FamilySearch Family Tree. Be sure to check the original and not just the index or compilation which may be wrong or incomplete. The notes
and other related information, all with active internet
links, is posted on
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
- Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( email@example.com
) of Provo, Utah.
- The notes with active URLs and
additional information in other notes and articles are posted at
- Tips: (1) To put an icon on your
desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just
drag the icon from in front of the address (above) in
your browser onto your desktop.
(2) To open a link, but keep your place
in these notes, hold down the Control key
while clicking the link.
- Problem for today: How to find and use United States birth records.
ABOUT BIRTH RECORDS
- Good article at FamilySearch > Search >
Research Wiki -- https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Birth_Records
- Certified birth records are from state, county, or city
agencies and usually cost several dollars; current records are not usually public, but most genealogical uses do not require certified copies.
- However, the originals may contain more information and the indexed or compiled records may be incorrect, so check the originals.
- To get certified copies look on the Research Wiki or Google for the address to write to.
- Government agencies began keeping
birth records from about the early 1900s, so none are available before that -- states started at different times, so check the Research Wiki for state information.
- To find compiled and indexed birth records try
Googling "[California] birth index"
(without the quotes)
- Example - California Birth Index --
- Many church records include births (usually they list baptisms which in many churches are when the child is only a few days or weeks old)
- Newspapers frequently publish birth records
and are a public source of birth records, e.g. for Utah
- More details for these sources are on my website -
do Google searches at the top of my classes webpage
SAVING COPIES OF RECORDS
- Save screenshots and/or the entire webpage
- For screenshots I use FASTSTONE CAPTURE, a
shareware program available from
- For saving entire webpages I use EVERNOTE which has a free version as well as commercial versions --https://evernote.com/
CREATING FILE NAMES
Copies of records need to be named so you can find them and know what's in them.
- The free program EVERYTHING -- https://voidtools.com/ -- allows searches by name or characters for all files
from all folders on your computer; it shows them in alphabetical or date or size order
- Keywords help (tag words), e.g. BIRTH,
MARRIAGE, SCHOOL, LDS, EDUCATION, WORK, MILITARY, FAMILY, PEDIGREE, CHILDREN, RESIDENCE, BIOGRAPHY, etc.
- My file naming system:
- Surname at beginning, the given names and married names, followed by (birth and death years).
- Then date of event or document, keywords, where event occurred, where the document
came from, the date you found
- Put the type of file as their extension, e.g. .doc, .txt, .pdf, .jpg, .tif, .html, etc.
- Write dates in International Date Format YYYY-MM-DD so they sort chronologically.
- Example: "ManwaringDiane(Snow)-(1934-2012)-1934-07-30-BIRTH-CERTIFICTE-VITALRECRORD-UTAH-SaltLakeCity-19xx-xx-xx.pdf"
- Example: "PHOTO-2023-09-04-JAMESTOWN-PROVO-UTAH-GillFamily.jpg"
- Many birth records are online and can be copied or downloaded.
- Be sure to indicate where the record came from and the date since things change online.
- Putting families together is fun and helpful to us now and to our descendants.
- Post the information on FamilySearch Family Tree so others can benefit from your work.
- Start small and don't try to do everything all at once: remember:
Small deeds done are better than big deeds planned.
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