Finding Birth Records

birth-ssIt can be so helpful to locate a birth record on an ancestor. There would be the full name, date of birth, the place of birth and the parents’ names. If you go back many decades there was no governmental (county-state) requirements for recording births. If you are having trouble locating a birth record, here are a few other ideas for coming up with that needed information.

Start with marriage and death vital records, if you can locate one or both. The best is a death certificate which will have the full name, date of birth, place of birth and in most cases the parents’ names. A marriage record will vary, some have parents’ names and other don’t. Usually, there will a date of birth.

Next, the ancestor was born before 1900, the US Federal Census for the year 1900 did have the month and year of each person’s birth. I always figured the younger the relative is in listing any census information, the more actuate it is. The older a person is, male or female, may ‘lie’ about their date of birth. The month in 1900 census might be correct but they may ‘fudged’ on the year.

See if any family Bibles are available, most will have family events – births-marriages and deaths recorded with exact month-day and year.

If an ancestor immigrated, see if a ship manifest can be located and / or any naturalization records. There tended to be less false information placed on naturalization papers, the immigrated didn’t want to mess up their chance to become a citizen. Also, if you locate a passport application or the actual passport, it will have a birth date.

birth-CW pensionAny relative serve in the military or filled out the draft registration forms, that will have birth dates. That includes the draft forms filled out or pension applications for Civil War veterans.

The headstones of a relative may have the full birth date. If not on the headstone, ask at the cemetery office and see what records they have.

Send away for a copy of the ancestor’s Social Security application. Birth date has to be precise there. The SS forms began being filled out in the late 1930s. Also, check the Social Security Death Index.

Church records, especially if the person had been with that church for a long time, there could be records with dates.

Keep looking, you generally can locate this information.

Photos: SS application (dated 1936, birth 1914); Civil War pension form (even for widows) and birth records in family Bibles.

Related genealogy blogs:

Sending for Birth Records

Social Security Death Index

Different Versions of Records


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