View Full Version : November Genealogy Lesson - Source Documents

11-01-2007, 11:10 AM
In this lesson we are going to begin discussing the different documents used to build your family history and what can be found on each one.

Before I start this section, I feel that a reminder is needed to always double check your information. It is not unusual to find conflicting information among the documents you will find.

Information on these documents was often given by a relative, neighbor, etc. and not the person in question. Thus, the information is only as good as the memory or knowledge of the person who gave it.

Remember to chime in with questions or comments!

11-01-2007, 09:34 PM
The earliest of birth records will provide:

Name, date of birth, gender, race and place of birth.

As the years progressed, the details became greater.

Around 1900, you will find that a birth record includes:

Name, date of birth, gender, race and place of birth as well as the names, ages, places of birth and occupation(s) of the parents. If a child is stillborn, it will be stated as such and sometimes the record will say how many children are living at the time of this birth. Most often the informant was one of the parents or sometimes a grandparent.

With this document, you will almost always be able to go back one more generation on the family tree.

Many states are beginning to put the birth records for certain time periods online. For privacy reasons, you will not find them online more recent than 75 to 100 years ago. There are also many volunteer persons and projects who transcribe these records and put them into online collections to be used by others. Some collections are fee based, but there are many out there that are free.

11-05-2007, 07:44 PM
Early Records were not quite as informative as those in the 1900's, yet you could still learn some things from the record.

Early on you would learn the Deceased Name, age, race, occupation, cause of death and place of death. Most often there was an informant's name, and this person was often a relative of the deceased.

As time went on, much more information was given on a death record. These would include:

Date of Death
Place of Death
Usual Residence (City, County, State)
Birth Date
Place of Birth
Names of Parents
Name of Spouse
If the deceased served in the Armed Forces - when & where
Date of Burial
Place of Burial
The Funeral Home/Director
Again, an informant who was usually related.

These records in the USA are kept at the county courthouse, in the county where the event was recorded. Many of them are online in full, or at least as an index.

11-05-2007, 09:30 PM
Very good idea. I didn't realize that these records were accessible.

11-05-2007, 10:22 PM
Some cemetery associations keep wonderful records and are happy to share them. If the cemetery is owned by a church, you may need to contact them. Our county has a couple of cemeteries that are owned by the county and the records for those particular cemeteries are horrid or non-existant!

Information that you may find on an Interment Record:

Name of Deceased
Place of Birth
Late Residence
Date of Birth and/or age
Date of Death
Date of Interment
Cause of Death
Name of Parents or Kindred
Whose lot interment is in
Section & Lot Number
Location of Grave
Undertaker/Funeral Home
Place of Death

11-05-2007, 10:33 PM
These records are pretty much standard across the USA and again can be requested from the funeral home where the service took place.

Information on this record:

Name of Deceased
Marital Status
Charge bill to
If Veteran, Name of War
Date of Death
Date of Birth
Name of Father
His Birthplace
Maiden Name of Mother
Her Birthplace
Date of Funeral
Services at:
Religion of Deceased
Place of Death
Cause of Death
Contributory Causes
His Address
Cemetery Name
(Our local funeral director was wonderful about attaching a copy of the obituary to the record.)

11-08-2007, 07:34 PM
That is a LOT of great information!! Thank you !!

11-16-2007, 09:30 AM

I started my family tree a long time ago: before computer!
I now use a free program from "Familysearch.com". The program is free and is called : PAF (Personal Anscestry File). I save it on a CD and update it once in a while. This way, I will never lose my information.

I also downloaded my tree to websites.