GENMSC-L ArchivesArchiver > GENMSC > 1998-12 > 0913949222
From: "B. Hill" <>
Subject: Re: Birth certicates with missing info how?
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 18:47:02 -0800
Bob, I've never used a birth certificate at all in my research because
they frequently don't exist before the 20th century, and because vital
records holders are so darn sensitive about letting anyone have copies of
them. Start with a DEATH certificate, if you can find out where and when
your person died. You will be amazed at the wonderful information that
is usually found, including date and place of birth, and names of both
parents - often even the mother's maiden name - and their birthplaces
(though usually only the name of the state or foreign country).
If you have an exact death date and place, try also for an obituary in
the home-town newspaper. They often provide place of birth, for example
"a native of Deadwood, South Dakota, age 89." Obituaries in the
home-town paper are especially important if the death certificate doesn't
show up where you thought it ought to be - an obituary may reveal that
the deceased died on a trip out of state, in which case the death
certificate will be found where the death occurred, and not in the state
Another source of birthdates is the Social Security Death Index, for many
persons who died after 1963; this can be searched on the Internet at
ancestry.com if the person's name isn't too common.
Prior to the 20th century, your best bets include tombstone dates and
family Bible records. If your person lived in the U.S. until the 1900
census, his or her month and year of birth are supposed to be included in
the enumeration data. This can narrow the date down to 31 days or less,
and if you have located a birthplace by then (such as via the obituary),
you may be able to find a birth announcement in the home-town newspaper.
> How do you obtain birth certificates for people if you do not have
> anything more than sketchy info? Such approximate birthdate, possible
> birthplace etc? Thanks.