Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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Revision as of 17:37, 4 October 2013
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001 .
The collection consists of Vital and town records acquired from local town clerk offices. It covers the years 1579 to 2001.
For a list of records by localities, document type and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.
The information found varies by record type and time period. You may find any of the following:
- Date of registration
- Name and gender of child
- Date and place of birth
- Parents' names and place of residence
- Father's occupation
- Parents' birthplace
- Date and place of marriage
- Names of the bride and groom
- Ages of the bride and groom
- Marital status of each
- Occupation of groom
- Birthplace(s) of bride and groom
- Residence at the time of marriage
- Parents' names and their residence
- Name, residence and office of officiator
- Name of informant
- Name and gender of deceased
- Marital status of deceased
- Age of deceased in years, months, days
- Cause of death
- Place of internment
- Birthplace of deceased
- Parents' names of name of spouse if married
- Name of informant
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The place where the event occurred
- The approximate date the event occurred
- The name of the individual or individuals such as the names of the bride and groom
Search the Collection
To search the collection
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "county"
⇒Select the "town"
⇒Select the "Record Type, Date and Volume" which takes you to the images
If the town has an index, start with the index. It generally contains information that will help you find your ancestor more quickly.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images 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.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
- Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
- Use the birth date or age 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.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
- The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
- The name of the undertaker, mortuary, or cemetery could lead you to funeral and cemetery records, which often include the names and residences of other family members.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname. This is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as more recent records.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for an index. There are often indexes created by local genealogical and historical societies.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
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
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 email@example.com. 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 Wiki Articles
- Massachusetts County Creation Dates and Parent Counties
- Massachusetts Counties Map
- Massachusetts Genealogy Guide
Contributions to This Article
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
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