Massachusetts Birth Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915 .

For detailed information about Massachusetts research,
see the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.


Contents

Record Description

This Collection will include records from 1841 to 1915.

The state birth registers are in bound volumes arranged by year, then by town. Entries within towns are arranged numerically.

Most towns in Massachusetts began recording vital events (births, marriages, and deaths) many years before it became state law. These records up to 1850 for about 215 Massachusetts towns have been published. Beginning in 1841, the state of Massachusetts mandated that a copy of each event recorded in a town or city be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which means that two sources exist for each event after 1841 – the town or city and the state. Most towns were in compliance with the law by the late 1840s. It is estimated that by the late 1800s, most births were reported. 

Birth and deaths were recorded to better serve public health needs.

The state birth registers are in bound volumes arranged by year, then by town. Entries within towns are arranged numerically.

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in the Massachusetts Birth Records may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of birth registration
  • Full name of child
  • Gender
  • Day, month, and year of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Name of parents
  • Father's occupation
  • Residence of parents

How to Use the Records

To begin your search, it is helpful to know the name and some other identifying information such as the birth place or birth date.

Search the Collection

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s birth record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • 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.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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.
  • If you are unable to find your ancestor look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Massachusetts Genealogy and Vital Records Links

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915." Index or Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Secretary of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts Archives, Boston.



 

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  • This page was last modified on 19 August 2014, at 22:01.
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