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How Do You Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Details Before Government Records? Challenging and Elusive, But Not Impossible to Find! (Records)

July 20 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT


Though vital records (birth, marriage, and death) registration didn’t occur until the 20th century in many states, it doesn’t mean you cannot determine when and where earlier birth, marriage, and death events occurred. So, what can you do when a certain official vital record cannot be found? Well, you can search for the next best thing—what we call a substitute record. This means we must be more creative in pursuing this information – a trait common to genealogists. Additionally, just because vital record registration was mandated, this also doesn’t mean that everyone complied, meaning that some of our ancestors may have fallen between the cracks and lack a government-issued certificate.

Some locales began registering such events earlier than required by the state, and various Civil War records (and even Revolutionary War pensions) can be surprisingly informative. But the possibilities don’t end there. Newspapers, church, voting, cemetery, estate, court, tax, directory, and school records can all provide valuable clues. These records can sometimes help us identify those elusive birth, marriage, or death dates and places, or at least give us a better and more narrow approximation of when and where. Let’s delve into some examples of pre-vital records substitutes—both the obvious and those that are a bit more obscure.



July 20
10:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT
Webinar Category:


Diane L. Richard


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H920A Pre Vital 24-07-20
$ 25.00