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Sunday, May 10, 2009

How Vital Are Vital Records to Your Ancestry?

Vital records are the framework of genealogical house. They allow you to link one generation to the next. From your own birth certificate, you learn your parents' name and their age and if you are lucky, their birthplace. In turn, this sets up an approximate search time to hunt for primary information about your parents. Since your parents generally provide most of the information contained in your birth certificate, the information is most likely pretty accurate. However, do keep in mind that what is contained in a birth certificate does vary from state to state and errors do happen when recorded into state records. For example, parents could name their son, Charles Nicholas, and the state has actually reversed the names on the birth certificate to Nicholas Charles. There are also cases in which only the parents' names are given and there is no further background information on the parents.

Finding genealogical information on the parents broadens to includes some if not all of the following: death certificates, marriage certificates, census records, and birth certificates and/or baptismal records.

The death certificate (if your parents have died) contains date of death, cause of death, full name, residence at time of death, place of death, and martial status. It also provides birth information — date of birth, birthplace, names of parents and the bonanza, place of their parents' birth. Again, not all states provide the same information. In addition, an informant, most likely a relative, gives much of this information to the proper authorities before the actual death certificate is made. 

Marriage certificates provide the names, ages and birthplaces of the bride and groom. It always lists the date and usually the place of marriage. In addition, these documents may also contain the bride and grooms parents' names as well as their birthplaces. In some cases, they also list the priest or minister who married them as well as their religion.

The introduction of the marriage and death certificates now establishs a relationship between your parents and their parents. Based on the information you gleaned from these documents, you now can seek the birth certificates of your parents.

Once you have all these documents, analysis of the information connects the evidence to confirm the parentage of your parents and by direct descent, to your grandparents. You have now established the frame for your house.

This process can be repeated ad infinitum.

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