For example, if you are missing information about one of your four grandparents, start with her or him. Try to obtain death, marriage, and birth records if available. Always work backward from the known to the unknown. Your first step should be to obtain vital records if they exist. These include. Most U. States that were part of the original thirteen colonies are the most likely to have pre vital records and church records available.
Publications such as The International Vital Records Handbook , 7th Edition, and the booklet titled Where to Write for Vital Records provide records descriptions, addresses, and other helpful information.
There is also a digital version available on the Slideshare website from the Division of Vital Records. Do a Google search for websites for each state archives to learn more about accessing vital records in a particular state.
The FamilySearch Wiki also offers a state-by-state outline of where to find various records for each state. Church and religious records for baptisms and marriages are often substituted for civil vital records before civil vital records were uniformly collected. The best way to find religious records is to search in the county where the ancestor lived. Also check with a library, genealogical, or historical society where your ancestor resided for advice on where to find historical records for the religious denomination of interest.
Another essential record group for genealogical research involves searching all available federal census records to glean personal facts about individuals and put together family groups.
Federal census records and indexes — excluding the census which was lost in a fire are available online:. An easy-to-use online family tree tool for drawing and sharing family trees.
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