West Virginia Births - FamilySearch Historical Records
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West Virginia Births, 1853-1930
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|West Virginia, |
|Flag of West Virginia|
|Location of West Virginia|
What is in This Collection?
The collection consists of an index to 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.
Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
What Can These Records Tell Me?
The following information may be found in these records:
- 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
|Look at an image of the original record. The indexed entry generally lists only the most basic identifying information, so the original record may contain further information which was not indexed. The index is linked to death entry images available online at West Virginia Culture. Save a copy of the image.|
How Do I Search This Collection?
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 IndexSearch by name on the Collection Details Page.
- Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
- Click Search to show possible matches
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at West Virginia Births, 1853-1930. Some catalog records link to multiple references. In this case, click on a reference to find a camera icon to see images.|
How Do I Analyze the Results?
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?
- Add any new information to your records
- 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
- 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
I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?
- 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
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of West Virginia.
Citing This Collection
Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.