Why You Can't Find Your Relative's Records. Four Helpful Tips:

Victorian era woman wearing glassesYou’ve spent hours searching through your favorite online genealogy resources. You dug through old copies of family photos and asked relatives to email you with their memories of family stories. Despite this, you still can find records for Aunt Agnes! Why not?

The answer to that frustrating question might be found in these four helpful hints:

She is “Too Young”

Mocavo points out that there are a lot more online records for people who were born 80 to 100 years ago than there are for people who were born more recently. Your Aunt Agnes might be younger than the records you have been searching through.

They suggest that you may have better results if you check old newspapers for birth, death, and marriage announcements. Finding one could give you more clues to work from.

Wrong Surname

One of the difficulties that can arise when genealogists search for female ancestors is directly due to their surname. Women often change their last names after they get married. Now, there are two potential surnames that could lead to information about your Aunt Agnes. It is possible that you hit a “brick wall” because you were using your aunt’s original surname. Try using her married surname instead.

Somebody “Goofed”

The person that was adding information to the genealogy resource you are searching through wrote “Anges” instead of “Agnes”. Or, maybe the record they were working from was nearly illegible and they had to guess at the letters in her surname.

Your Aunt Agnes’ records might be in there, somewhere, but the search engine isn’t able to find what you have been typing into it. Try transposing some letters in her first or last name. Try spelling the name phonetically instead of correctly. Take a close look at whatever records you have about Aunt Agnes and see if you can figure out the right way to spell her last name.

Lack of Birth Certificate

You are certain Aunt Agnes was, in fact, born. Why can’t you find her birth certificate? The United States Department of Health says that birth records become public record 100 years after the person’s date of birth. It is possible that there is no birth certificate. The United States did not require people to get a birth certificate for a newborn baby until around 1906. You might have better luck if you started searching for her death certificate or looking for a newspaper obituary instead. Each will show her date of birth.

Image by simpleinsomnia on Flickr.

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