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A Birth Records Search - Where to Look?

So Many Locations - Don't Miss Any

A birth records search may be done in many different locations and sources.

However, we do not always know where our ancestors were born, so we have to look further, and ferret out the information from other sources. So, where can we look to find those elusive birth records?

Church Records

1911 My mom with her doll and pram
1911 My mom with her doll and pram

In some cases that means a birth records search through the church records of the church your ancestor attended. You may have to hunt for those. Old churches have closed, and their records moved to the denomination's archives which are housed somewhere. Finding them can be a challenge both as to the physical location, and then the specific records. Most old church records have not been indexed, so there is a lot of thumbing through old birth registration pages involved here.

More on Church Records

Governmental Records

At a point in time as countries grew, the government began to require the registration of all births. It varies greatly from place to place, state to state, province to province, and even county to county. So you face more birth date searches as to where the records were required (which governmental authority), and where those records are now stored.

You may need to find some county or township records, or you may be able to find state- or province-wide records which are indexed, and point to the exact location to find your ancestor's birth data.

Family Records

Sometimes there are no existing governmental or church archive records for your ancestor's birth. But, you may have an old family bible in the hands of some member of your extended family which contains the vital records of the family - the births, marriages, and deaths, at least dates.

Before you rely heavily on these records, read the page on family bibles. Not all the information may be accurate, for a variety of reasons.

Old Newspaper Archives

Before radio and television, not to mention the Internet, people got much of their news from local newspapers, most often weeklies. Many of these papers published for a short period of time, folded, and then were replaced by a new newspaper. In many areas, these old newspapers, at least the copies that were left, were gathered up by universities and archives and libraries, and microfilmed for posterity. Your birth records search may find birth announcements for your ancestors in such archives.

More on Newspaper Archives

What Can You Find?

It is also important to note that many old birth records contain much more information than merely the date you are hunting. Often you can be surprised at what may be there that will point you to further information about your ancestor.

What you might find on old registrations

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