Guest Author - Michelle McVaney
You have talked to your family and filled out all of the family tree chart that you can, but there are still some holes of missing information. This is where the research of family history begins. The first article in this series discusses the Family Tree! Now we will discuss how to fill in the missing information in the family tree by researching birth and death certificates.
Birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates are typically kept in county courthouses. Sometimes you may live far from the county courthouse in which your records are stored, but you can request your records by mail. Most courthouses have set prices for record searches. Your best bet is to call the courthouse and find out their procedures, if you need to send a self addressed stamped envelope, etc. Always give the complete name of the person as well as any important dates that may help them find the record.
Many states keep duplicate birth, death and marriage records at the state level. You can visit the Department Of Health and Human Services website! Department Of Health and Human Services for an address to to contact the office of the state where your records may be kept. This website will also tell you the fees involved for the records you are requesting. If the state office does not have the records they will typically forward your request on to the local office that does have the records.
There are other records such as probate and last will and testaments that will provide a wealth of information. These records can typically be found on a county level.
Military records, naturalization records, census lists can be requested from the U.S. Deptartment of Commerce for a fee. Write to this address:
U.S. Department of Commerce
Bureau of the Census
Pittsburgh, Kansas 66762
Military pension records and passenger arrival lists are kept in the National Archives in Washington D.C. The National Archives is an awesome place to visit, or you can make your request by mail:
National Archives and Records Service
Washington, DC 20408
Include full names, dates and places when requesting your records in writing.
The next article in the Family History series will talk about other sources of information for researching family history.