West Virginia Births - FamilySearch Historical Records

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: West Virginia Births, 1853-1930 .
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Record Description[edit | edit source]

The collection consists of an index of West Virginia county birth records for the years 1853 to 1930. Data is searchable for all counties. However, records within each county may not be available for the full year range.

Birth entries were recorded in printed register books containing many entries per page beginning in 1853. Earlier records were handwritten, but were usually typewritten by 1930.

Clerks of each County Court recorded births that were reported by parents, doctors and midwives beginning in 1853. The state of West Virginia began collecting births from the counties in 1917. From 1853-1879, about 15% of the births were recorded; from 1880-1920, coverage increased to about 65%. By 1925, nearly 100% of the births were recorded.

The state required counties to begin recording births to document the occurrence of a birth and to track public health issues. Delayed registration of births allowed persons whose birth was not recorded to obtain a birth certificate, usually in order to receive government benefits.

The birth date and place, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the birth occurred are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. Other data such as the parents' age or birth place have a greater chance of error because they are based on the memory of the informant.

Record Content[edit | edit source]

County Birth Records usually contain some or all of this information:

  • Town, district and county of birth
  • Name and gender of child
  • Were parents married?
  • Birth date, time and place
  • Names of parents, including maiden name of mother
  • Parents' age(s) at last birthday
  • Color or race of parents
  • Father's birthplace and occupation
  • Mother's birthplace and occupation
  • Live birth or stillborn
  • Number of children born to this mother
  • Number of children still living
  • Name and residence of attendant at birth
  • Informant's name, address and relationship

How to Use the Records[edit | edit source]

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Child's name
  • Other identifying information such as birth date and place or parent's names

Search the Collection[edit | edit source]

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information[edit | edit source]

When you have located your ancestor’s birth record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use the birth date along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • The father’s occupation can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • The parents' birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.

Tips to Keep in Mind[edit | edit source]

  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. If the surname is unusual, you may want to compile birth entries for every person of the same surname and sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the birth records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same county or nearby.
  • The information in birth 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.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from record to record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?[edit | edit source]

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.


For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Known Issues with This Collection[edit | edit source]

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites[edit | edit source]

West Virginia Birth Records

Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

Contributions to This Article[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records/Guidelines for Articles.


Citations for This Collection[edit | edit source]

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.



Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for West Virginia Births, 1853-1930.