United States, How to Use Birth Records

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United States Genealogy  Gotoarrow.png  Vital RecordsGotoarrow.png United States Birth Records

See also United States Birth Records and United States, How to Find Genealogy Records

Introduction[edit | edit source]

The following sections are summaries of the "How to Use the Record" sections in the FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles.

About U. S. birth records[edit | edit source]

  • Name indexes to births make it possible to access a specific record quickly.
  • Indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations. If the information was scanned, there may be character recognition errors.
  • The information in these records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • The type of information given may vary from one record to another record.

Find your ancestor’s birth record (search strategy)[edit | edit source]

Follow these steps.

1. Find your ancestor in the index.

  • Note the locator information (such as page, entry, or certificate number) for the record.

2. Find your ancestor’s birth record.

  • Look for the page, entry, or certificate number (or other locator information) you found in the index.

3. Evaluate and record each piece of information you find.

To search the index, you need to know the following:[edit | edit source]

  • The name of the person born.
  • The place where the birth occurred.
  • The approximate birth date.

Tips for finding your ancestor[edit | edit source]

  • Verify whether the name you found is your ancestor’s. Compare the information you know to the information you find. Look at relationships.
  • When looking for a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.

If you don’t find your ancestor in the index, do the following:[edit | edit source]

  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

Find birth records for other family members[edit | edit source]

While you are searching birth records, it is helpful to follow the same steps to find the birth records of other family members who lived in the same time and place.

1. Look for:

  • Every person with the same surname. This is especially helpful if the surname is unusual or the family lived in rural areas.
  • Children, siblings, parents, and other relatives whose records may be in the same county.
  • A second marriage of a parent.

2. Compile the individuals into families, with the appropriate parents. (Create family group records for the families.)

3. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.

Continue your research[edit | edit source]

Use the information you found to search other records. You can learn more about the same family or look for additional ancestors. Choose what you want to look for next.

Next Research Steps[edit | edit source]

Use the information you found to search other records. You can learn more about the same family or look for additional ancestors. Choose what you want to look for next.

If you know this information: Search for or do this:
Birth date and place of birth Find the family in census records.
Residence and names of parents Find church records.

Find land records.

Find census records.
Father’s occupation Find employment records.

Find military or other types of records.
Parents’ birth places Find former residences.

Establish a migration pattern for the family.

Find census records.

Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

Wiki Articles describing online collections are found at:

Other Wiki Articles in this Series[edit | edit source]