Alabama, United States - Birth - 1702-1816Edit This Page

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While there is no set way to do research in the United States, this guide gives basic research steps and an explanation of the records.

The following list of suggested records is given in an order likely to help many people.

What you are looking for

An understanding of the research process and how to use the suggested list of records to search.

Contents

1. United States Previous Research, Part 1

Previous research is the work other people have done. By searching what others have already done, you may save hours. However, previous research is only as good as the skills of the person doing the research. Therefore, you should double check the information in previous research.

What you are looking for

Information about your ancestors compiled by other people.

Why go to the next record

Any of the following records may:
  • Have the information you are looking for.
  • Add information to what you have found.
  • Clear up differences found in previous searches.

If you find new information, you may want to again look at the records you searched before.

Population schedules give a "snapshot" of your ancestor's family on the census day and indicate where they were living.

2. Census Population Schedule: Census

Census population schedules are useful in finding the town and county where an ancestor lived. They list people who lived in each house in every town and county when the federal census was taken (every 10 years, starting in 1790). Censuses from 1850 to 1940 give at least the name, age, and state (or country) of birth for every person in the house. Earlier censuses (1790 to 1840) give the name of the head of household, plus age categories for all the males and females in that house. Censuses show neighbors, who often are relatives.

Federal census records are available for states and for the country.

What you are looking for

Your ancestor's name on a population schedule.

Why go to the next record

Baptisms are alternatives to birth records. In many religions, children were generally baptized within a few days of birth and usually near the place they were born.

3. Church Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, Minutes, etc.: Church records

Church records usually include baptisms, marriages, burials, and minutes. Baptism records usually give the name of the child, parents' names, and date and place of baptism. Marriage records usually give the names of the bride and groom, witnesses, and the date and place of the marriage. Burial records usually give the name and age of the deceased person, with the date and place of burial or death. The name of the spouse may be listed, and for young children, the names of the parents may be given. Church minutes have a variety of information, including lists of members in various years.

Church records were kept in towns or counties by the minister or clerk of a congregation.

What you are looking for

Baptisms are alternatives to birth records. In many religions, children were generally baptized within a few days of birth and usually near the place they were born.

Why go to the next record

Territorial censuses give a "snapshot" of your ancestor's family on the census day and indicate where they were living.

4. Colonial and Territorial Census: Census

Colonial censuses usually give the name of the head of the household and the town and county where he or she lived. Censuses for some towns and counties exist for the early American colonies and for areas colonized by France, Spain, and Mexico. Lists of early residents, sometimes referred to as "censuses," have usually been reconstructed from other records, such as tax and land records.

Territorial censuses usually give the name of each person in the household, age, color, sex, state or country of birth, occupation, town and county of residence, names of neighbors, and other information depending on the state and the year of the census. These censuses are usually incomplete, and most are not indexed.

There may be colonial or territorial census records for areas that are now states.

What you are looking for

Your ancestor's name in the census.

Why go to the next record

State censuses give a "snapshot" of your ancestor's family on the census day and indicate where they were living.

5. State Census: Census

Colonial, state, and local governments sometimes took censuses between federal census years. Censuses before 1840 usually give only the names of the heads of the households, the town and county of residence, and the names of neighbors. The censuses after 1840 usually have the name of each person in the household, age, color, sex, state or country of birth, occupation, town and county of residence, names of neighbors, and other information, depending on the state and year of the census.

There are census records for towns, counties, and states.

What you are looking for

Your ancestor's name in the census.

Why go to the next record

Military pensions often give birth information for the soldier and sometimes for the spouse and children.

6. Military Pensions: Military records

Military records may contain birth information about a large portion of the male population. They may also have information about their deaths and marriages.

Pensions are offered for military service by state or federal governments. The applications and pension records often contain birth, marriage, death, and service information; residences; and names of spouses, children, and other close relatives. They began with the Revolutionary War and continue to the present.

There are military records for towns, counties, states, and the country. There are military pension records for states and the country.

What you are looking for

Records about your ancestor's military service. To find his or her military records, you usually need:
  • The state where he enlisted.
  • His company, regiment, or unit.
  • Dates of service.

Why go to the next record

A collection often gathers information from many sources. Some of these sources may no longer be available or would be difficult to find.

7. Genealogical Collections: Genealogy

Genealogical collections usually give information about families and may include several generations. They usually give the names, and birth, marriage, and death dates and places for the husband and wife, the children, and possibly siblings and parents.

There are genealogical collections for towns, counties, states, and the country.

What you are looking for

  • A collection about your ancestor's family, relations, or friends.
  • A collection with records from the place where your ancestor lived.

Why go to the next record

Buying land from the government often required giving biographical information, such as age and former residences. These can help find a birth date and place.

8. Land Transactions, Government to Person: Land and property

Records created when a person received land from the federal, state, or colonial government may include the name and residence of the person, a description of the land, and dates of each part of the process. They may give age, military service, or naturalization information. In a few cases, other family members are named.

First ownership of land was obtained from state or federal governments.

What you are looking for

Records of your ancestor buying land from the government, such as land grants and homestead or records of proprietors.

Why go to the next record

Wills, administrations, and inventories often give a link from your ancestor to his parents and siblings.

9. Wills, Administrations, and Inventories: Probate records

Wills, administrations, and inventories (probate records) show a court's decisions regarding the distribution of the estate of a deceased person to his heirs or creditors. They may give the person's death date, names of family members, family relationships, and residences. They may also give information about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents.

There are probate records for towns, counties, states, and the country.

What you are looking for

  • Your ancestor's will, the list (inventory) of what he or she owned when he or she died, or records of what was done to settle the estate.
  • Similar records of people who are or might be your ancestor's parents or relatives, who might have included him or her in their wills.

Why go to the next record

A magazine may have an article about your family or copies of the records you need, such as church and cemetery records.

10. Genealogical and Historical Magazines: Periodicals

Genealogical and historical magazines often publish such information as: family histories, obituaries, newspaper notices, church, cemetery, land, probate, tax, military, and naturalization records. Historical magazines may contain biographies and histories of towns, ethnic groups, organizations, industries, historical events, political campaigns, military activities, etc.

There are genealogical and historical magazines for cities, counties, regions, states, and the country.

What you are looking for

  • An article about your ancestor.
  • An article about your ancestor's relatives.
  • An article about the town or county where your ancestor lived.
  • An article with records for the town or county where your ancestor lived.

Why go to the next record

HowellTWbstone and sexton records often have birth information.

11. Tombstone and Sexton Records: Cemeteries

Tombstone and sexton records contain information from tombstones or from records kept by the sexton of the cemetery. They usually give the ancestor's name, birth date, and death date. They may include the birthplace and date, name of spouse, names of children, and names of other relatives.

There are tombstone and sexton records for towns, counties, states, and the country.

What you are looking for

  • Your ancestor's tombstone inscription.
  • Your ancestor's name in the sexton records.

Why go to the next record

Town and county histories often give short biographies of the first settlers and people in the area when the histories were written. State histories often give biographies of prominent men.

12. History: History

Histories tell of the events in a community or larger area. Effective family research requires some understanding of the historical events that may have affected your family and the records dealing with them. Learning about governments, laws, wars, migrations, and religious trends may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. These events may have led to the creation of records in which your family was listed, such as land and military documents.

Histories often contain biographical sketches about individuals and their families. They may include birth, marriage, and death information.

There are histories for towns, counties, regions, and states.

What you are looking for

A history of the town or county where your ancestor lived.

Why go to the next record

Biographies, diaries, etc., often have birth information, such as birthdates, birth places, and parents.

13. Biographies, Diaries, etc.: Biography

Biographies, diaries, etc., give information about persons who lived in a particular area. Regional, state, or national biographies generally include well-known persons, such as politicians, or other people who have attained status in their profession. They may mention the person's parents, spouse, children, and ancestors, with birth, marriage, and death dates and places. They may give information about the person's religion, occupation, military service, etc.

There may be biographies, diaries, and similar records from towns, counties, or states.

What you are looking for

  • A biography about your ancestor or other family members, such as a brother, uncle, child, parents, father-in-law, son-in-law, etc.
  • A diary written by your ancestor or someone close to him or her who might have mentioned your ancestor.

Why go to the next record

Obituaries often give a short biography of a person's life, including birth date, birthplace, and parents.

14. Obituary: Obituaries

Obituaries (death notices with some biographical information) are written by family members and published in local newspapers. They usually give the name of the deceased; residence; age; dates and places of birth, marriage, and death; name of spouse; and maiden and married surnames of women. Obituaries may give the names of parents, names of children with their residences, names of children's spouses, place of burial, name of undertaker, cause of death, previous residences, occupation, military service, immigration information, religion, membership in organizations, and a photograph.

Obituaries are found in newspapers for towns and cities.

What you are looking for

  • An obituary for your ancestor in a book of obituaries.
  • An obituary in a newspaper where and when your ancestor died.

Why go to the next record

If your ancestor was a child when his or her father died, check guardianship records. Guardianship records usually give names of parents and the age of the child. With the age, you can calculate the birth date.

15. Guardianship: Guardianship

A guardian was appointed by a court to oversee the affairs of another person, called a "ward." Guardianship proceedings occurred when minor children were orphaned by the death of both parents or when the father (or "bread winner") died. In some cases guardians or administrators were appointed when adults were declared incompetent to handle their own affairs.

Guardianship records usually give the name and age of the ward, the name of the deceased parent(s), name and residence of the guardian (which might be the mother), and the dates of court decisions. The records may also give the death date of the parent(s).

Guardianship records were kept by towns, counties, or states.

What you are looking for

Guardianship records for the area where your ancestor lived around the time his or her father died.

Why go to the next record

Family Bibles often give birth date, parents' names, etc.

16. Family Bible: Bible records

Family Bibles were passed down from generation to generation. They often have a section for recording family information. The recorded information usually gives birth, marriage, and death dates for one or more generations. The Bible record may list parents and names of children and their spouses, including maiden names.

Family Bibles are usually in the possession of family members, or the Bibles may have been given to town, county, regional, state, or national repositories.

What you are looking for

  • A Bible for your ancestor's family.
  • A collection of family information from Bibles.

Why go to the next record

This is not a complete list of all records you could search. If you did not find what you need, check the FamilySearch Catalog - Place Search or archives and libraries for the area where your ancestor lived for other records which may have information about your ancestors.


 

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  • This page was last modified on 18 July 2014, at 23:04.
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