United States, How to Find Genealogy Records

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[[United States]]  [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] How to Find Genealogy Records
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''[[United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]'' '''How to Find Genealogy Records''' <br>See also [[United States Genealogy]] <br><br> This page contains a series of links to Research Wiki articles about how to find various types of genealogically related records in the United States. The individual articles are arranged by subject heading. The linked articles may also include links to other related articles. You may also wish to search the Wiki for "How to Find" articles from various individual states. Please feel free to add new links or update existing links as they become available.  
<br>See also [[United States Genealogy]]
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<br><br>
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This is a page is a series of links to Wiki articles on how to find various types of genealogically related records in the United States. The individual articles are arranged by subject heading. The linked articles may also include links to other related articles. You may also wish to search the Wiki for "How to Find" articles from various individual states. Please feel free to add new links or update existing links as it becomes necessary.  
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===General References===
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=== General References ===
These are articles of general interest in the United States on the subject of searching and finding records.
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*[[United States Basic Search Strategies]]
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These are articles of general interest in the United States on the subject of searching and finding records.
*[[How to Find Descendants in the United States]]
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*[[United States Record Selection Table]]
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*[[United States Basic Search Strategies]]  
*[[United States Adoption Research]]
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*[[How to Find Descendants in the United States]]  
*[[How to Find a Coat of Arms or Crest]]
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*[[United States Record Selection Table]]  
*[[How to Find Information that was Donated to the Family History Library]]
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*[[United States Adoption Research]]  
*[[How to Begin a Search for Your Ancestor]]
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*[[How to Find a Coat of Arms or Crest]]  
*[[United States, How to Find and Use a Map]]
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*[[How to Find Information that was Donated to the Family History Library]]  
*[[How to Begin a Search for Your Ancestor]]
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*[[How to Begin a Search for Your Ancestor]]  
*[[Solving Tough Research Problems—Overcoming Brick Walls]]
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*[[United States, How to Find and Use a Map]]  
*[[Burned Counties Research]]
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*[[How to Begin a Search for Your Ancestor]]  
*[[Document AS YOU GO!]]
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*[[Solving Tough Research Problems—Overcoming Brick Walls]]  
*[[Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes)]]
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*[[Burned Counties Research]]  
*[[Sharing: a good way to FIND ancestors]]
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*[[Document AS YOU GO!]]  
*[[Record the Results]]
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*[[Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes)]]  
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*[[Sharing: a good way to FIND ancestors]]  
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*[[Record the Results]]  
 
*[[Getting Started: General Research Information]]
 
*[[Getting Started: General Research Information]]
  
===Family Records===
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=== Family Records ===
Searching your own and family records is always the first place to start your genealogical research. Always ask relatives, both near and distant, if they have any records or photos of the family. Look for birthday cards, wedding announcements, birth notices, certificates and public documents such as driver's licenses. See also the following articles:
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*[[United States Genealogy]]
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Searching your own and family records is always the first place to start your genealogical research. Always ask relatives, both near and distant, if they have any records or photos of the family. Look for birthday cards, wedding announcements, birth notices, certificates and public documents such as driver's licenses. See also the following articles:
*[[United States, How to Find Family Histories]]
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*[[Gather Family Information]]
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*[[United States Genealogy]]  
*[[Select Records to Search]]
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*[[United States, How to Find Family Histories]]  
*[[Gather Family Information]]
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*[[Gather Family Information]]  
*[[Family Group Record Analysis: How to Guess Where to Start]]
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*[[Select Records to Search]]  
*[[United States Bible Records]]
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*[[Family Group Record Analysis: How to Guess Where to Start]]  
*[[How to Preserve and Restore Family Records and Books]]
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*[[United States Bible Records]]  
*[[Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*[[How to Preserve and Restore Family Records and Books]]  
*[[Visiting a Family History Center]]
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*[[Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]  
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*[[Visiting a Family History Center]]  
 
*[[How to Find Descendants in the United States]]
 
*[[How to Find Descendants in the United States]]
  
===Birth Records===
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=== Vital Records ===
Birth records might seem like the first place to start your search, but experts recommend looking into [[United States Death Records|death records]] first and [[United States Marriage Records|marriage records]] second. Followed by Birth records, because birth records are usually the most difficult to find.
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*[[United States Birth Records]]
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Vital Records contain information about births, marriages and deaths. You need to know the dates and geographic areas covered by these records because information about births, marriages and deaths was recorded at different times depending on the geographic or political area.
*[[How to Find Birth Information in the United States]]
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*[[Using military records to find a soldier's birth information]]
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{{U.S. Vital Records}}
*[[United States, How to Use Birth Records]]
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*[[United States Vital Records]]
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==== Birth Records  ====
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
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*[[Summary of Births in the United States by State]]
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Birth records might seem like the first place to start your search, but experts recommend looking into [[United States Death Records|death records]] first and [[United States Marriage Records|marriage records]] second. Followed by Birth records, because birth records are usually the most difficult to find.
*[[Birth certificate]]
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*[[U.S. Vital Records Overview]]
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*[[United States Birth Records]]  
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*[[How to Find Birth Information in the United States]]  
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*[[Using military records to find a soldier's birth information]]  
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*[[United States, How to Use Birth Records]]  
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*[[United States Vital Records]]  
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*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]  
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*[[Summary of Births in the United States by State]]  
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*[[Birth certificate]]  
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*[[U.S. Vital Records Overview]]  
 
*[[Online U.S. Marriage & Birth Records Indexes]]
 
*[[Online U.S. Marriage & Birth Records Indexes]]
  
See also:
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See also: [[United States, How to Use Birth Records]]  
[[United States, How to Use Birth Records]]
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==== Death Records  ====
  
===Death Records===
 
 
Many death records are little known and quite obscure. Be sure to look for mortuary records, burial permits, transportation records, funeral programs, obituaries, memorials and grave purchases in addition to death certificates or other formal records.  
 
Many death records are little known and quite obscure. Be sure to look for mortuary records, burial permits, transportation records, funeral programs, obituaries, memorials and grave purchases in addition to death certificates or other formal records.  
  
*[[United States, How to Find Death Records]]
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*[[United States, How to Find Death Records]]  
*[[United States Vital Records]]
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*[[United States Vital Records]]  
*[[United States Death Records]]
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*[[United States Death Records]]  
*[[Summary of Death Records in the United States by State]]
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*[[Summary of Death Records in the United States by State]]  
*[[Deaths and Burials Vital Record Index Collections (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*[[Deaths and Burials Vital Record Index Collections (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]  
*[[United States Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*[[United States Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]  
*[[Funeral Cards - A Little Used Resource]]
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*[[Funeral Cards - A Little Used Resource]]  
*[[U.S. Vital Records Overview]]
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*[[U.S. Vital Records Overview]]  
 
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
 
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
  
See also [[United States, How to Use Death Records]]
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See also [[United States, How to Use Death Records]]  
  
===Marriage Records===
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==== Marriage Records ====
Be sure to search for wedding announcements in newspapers, anniversary announcements in newspapers, invitations to wedding receptions, announcement of banns, church notices, as well as marriage licenses and certificates.
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*[[United States Vital Records]]
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Be sure to search for wedding announcements in newspapers, anniversary announcements in newspapers, invitations to wedding receptions, announcement of banns, church notices, as well as marriage licenses and certificates.
*[[United States Divorce Records]]
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*[[United States Marriage Records]]
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*[[United States Vital Records]]  
*[[Summary of Marriage Records in the United States by State]]
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*[[United States Divorce Records]]  
*[[Online U.S. Marriage & Birth Records Indexes]]
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*[[United States Marriage Records]]  
*[[U.S. Vital Records Overview]]
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*[[Summary of Marriage Records in the United States by State]]  
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*[[Online U.S. Marriage & Birth Records Indexes]]  
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*[[U.S. Vital Records Overview]]  
 
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
 
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
  
See also: [[United States, How to Use Marriage Records]]
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See also: [[United States, How to Use Marriage Records]]  
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=== Census Records  ===
  
===Census Records===
 
 
There are both national and state censuses. The United States Federal Census starts in 1790 and the latest release is for 1940. The year 1890 is only available in very limited areas due to a fire. To find if a state has census records and for what years, go to [http://www.censusfinder.com/ The CensusFinder]. There may also be local county and city censuses.  
 
There are both national and state censuses. The United States Federal Census starts in 1790 and the latest release is for 1940. The year 1890 is only available in very limited areas due to a fire. To find if a state has census records and for what years, go to [http://www.censusfinder.com/ The CensusFinder]. There may also be local county and city censuses.  
  
Note: There are several complete digitized copies of the U.S. Census online, most with complete images and indexes. Some of the websites require a subscription fee to view all of the Census records.
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Note: There are several complete digitized copies of the U.S. Census online, most with complete images and indexes. Some of the websites require a subscription fee to view all of the Census records.  
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*[[United States Census]]
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*[[United States Census]]
*[[United States, How to Use Census Records]]
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*[[United States Census Colonial]]  
*[[Using the Census to find other records about ancestors]]
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*[[United States, How to Use Census Records]]  
*[[United States Federal Census Dates]]
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*[[Using the Census to find other records about ancestors]]  
*[[United States Census Bureau]]
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*[[United States Federal Census Dates]]  
*[[Tips for Finding Hard to Find Families on the U. S. Census]]
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*[[United States Census Bureau]]  
*[[United States Census Analyzing Census Data]]
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*[[Tips for Finding Hard to Find Families on the U. S. Census]]  
*[[United States Census Searching]]
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*[[United States Census Analyzing Census Data]]  
*[[United States Census Accuracy]]
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*[[United States Census Searching]]  
*[[Accelerated Indexing Systems U.S. Census Indexes (on Microfiche)]]
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*[[United States Census Accuracy]]  
*[[United States Census Availability]]
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*[[Accelerated Indexing Systems U.S. Census Indexes (on Microfiche)]]  
*[[United States Census Forms]]
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*[[United States Census Availability]]  
*[[United States Census Historical Background]]
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*[[United States Census Forms]]  
*[[United States Census Indexes]]
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*[[United States Census Historical Background]]  
*[[United States Census Jurisdiction]]
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*[[United States Census Indexes]]  
*[[United States Census Limitations]]
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*[[United States Census Jurisdiction]]  
*[[United States Census Maps]]
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*[[United States Census Limitations]]  
*[[United States Census Online]]
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*[[United States Census Maps]]  
*[[Family History Library Registers]]
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*[[United States Census Online]]  
*[[Soundex]]
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*[[Family History Library Registers]]  
*[[United States Census Substitutes]]
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*[[Soundex]]  
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*[[United States Census Substitutes]]  
 
*[[United States Census Terms]]
 
*[[United States Census Terms]]
  
This list is likely incomplete, please search for similar articles and see the links in those articles. See also the categories at the bottom of this article.
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This list is likely incomplete, please search for similar articles and see the links in those articles. See also the categories at the bottom of this article.  
  
===Church Records===
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=== Directories  ===
  
The United States is a country of religious diversity. Unlike many other countries, there has been no “state church,” except for a few periods in some of the early colonies.
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Directories were created for salesmen, merchants, and other interested in contacting residents of an area. They are arranged alphabetically giving lists of names and addresses. These often list the adult residents of a city or area. The most helpful directories for genealogical research are city and county directories of local residents and businesses. These are generally published annually and may include an individual's address, occupation, spouse's name, and other helpful facts. An individual's address can be very helpful when searching an unindexed census of a large city. {{U.S. Directories}}
Church records in the United States began in the early 1600s. Unfortunately, the United States did not require a civil registration or recording of births, marriages, and deaths until well into the 20th Century although some of the states began the process in the mid-1800s. Sometimes church records are the only records containing birth, marriage and death about individuals. Therefore, they are a valuable substitute when vital records do not exist.
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*[[United States Church Records]]
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=== Church Records  ===
*[[United States Church History]]
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*[[United States Churches by Denominations]]
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The United States is a country of religious diversity. Unlike many other countries, there has been no “state church,” except for a few periods in some of the early colonies. Church records in the United States began in the early 1600s. Unfortunately, the United States did not require a civil registration or recording of births, marriages, and deaths until well into the 20th Century although some of the states began the process in the mid-1800s. Sometimes church records are the only records containing birth, marriage and death about individuals. Therefore, they are a valuable substitute when vital records do not exist.
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*[[United States Church Records]]  
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*[[United States Church History]]  
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*[[United States Churches by Denominations]]  
 
*[[United States, Church Records, 1600s-the Present]]
 
*[[United States, Church Records, 1600s-the Present]]
  
This list contains links to general articles, please see additional articles concerning individual religions or congregations and by geographic area. For example, see [[Vermont Church Records]].
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This list contains links to general articles, please see additional articles concerning individual religions or congregations and by geographic area. For example, see [[Vermont Church Records]].  
  
===Obituaries===
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=== Obituaries ===
An obituary may be a published or unpublished death announcement. A particular obituary can be a simple two line death notice or an elaborate biography of the deceased. Obituaries may be a good source of information about a person and may also include information about family members. Obituaries usually give the name of the deceased and the death or burial date. They may also contain information such as the birth date, marriage date, names of parents and spouse, children, occupation, education, and the location of living family members at the time the obituary was written. Obituaries are usually printed in a funeral program, a newspaper or in a local history.
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Obituaries have only recently begun appearing online. Collections of obituaries may only go back as far as the 1960s  or 1970s. Before those dates, you may have to do a search in newspaper collections.  
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An obituary may be a published or unpublished death announcement. A particular obituary can be a simple two line death notice or an elaborate biography of the deceased. Obituaries may be a good source of information about a person and may also include information about family members. Obituaries usually give the name of the deceased and the death or burial date. They may also contain information such as the birth date, marriage date, names of parents and spouse, children, occupation, education, and the location of living family members at the time the obituary was written. Obituaries are usually printed in a funeral program, a newspaper or in a local history.  
  
*[[United States Obituaries]]
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Obituaries have only recently begun appearing online. Collections of obituaries may only go back as far as the 1960s or 1970s. Before those dates, you may have to do a search in newspaper collections.
*[[How To Search For Your Ancestors In The United States]]
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*[[How to Locate Your Ancestor in the United States]]
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*[[United States Obituaries]]  
*[[United States Vital Records]]
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*[[How To Search For Your Ancestors In The United States]]  
*[[United States Record Selection Table]]
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*[[How to Locate Your Ancestor in the United States]]  
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*[[United States Vital Records]]  
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*[[United States Record Selection Table]]  
 
*[[African American Obituaries]]
 
*[[African American Obituaries]]
  
For further specific information search for individual states, counties, cities and towns, for example see [[Utah Obituaries]]. Also remember to search newspapers in the city, county and state where the person lived or died. See [[United States Newspapers]].
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For further specific information search for individual states, counties, cities and towns, for example see [[Utah Obituaries]]. Also remember to search newspapers in the city, county and state where the person lived or died. See [[United States Newspapers]].  
  
===Cemetery Records===
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=== Cemetery Records ===
  
Cemetery or burial records are sometimes called permits for burial. These records often include birth, marriage, and death information. The records can sometimes provide clues about military service, religion, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge. These records are especially helpful for identifying children who died young or women who were not recorded in family or government documents. Check the sexton's records, or visit the cemetery in person to see if other relatives are in the same or adjoining plots.
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Cemetery or burial records are sometimes called permits for burial. These records often include birth, marriage, and death information. The records can sometimes provide clues about military service, religion, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge. These records are especially helpful for identifying children who died young or women who were not recorded in family or government documents. Check the sexton's records, or visit the cemetery in person to see if other relatives are in the same or adjoining plots. To find tombstone or sexton records, you need to know where an individual was buried. The person may have been buried in a community, church, private, military, or family cemetery, usually near the place where he lived or died or where other family members were buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, funeral home records, death records and County deeds.  
To find tombstone or sexton records, you need to know where an individual was buried. The person may have been buried in a community, church, private, military, or family cemetery, usually near the place where he lived or died or where other family members were buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, funeral home records, death records and County deeds.
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*[[United States Cemeteries]]
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*[[United States Cemeteries]]  
*[[US Military Cemetery Records]]
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*[[US Military Cemetery Records]]  
*[[Confederate Cemetery Records]]
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*[[Confederate Cemetery Records]]  
*[[Union Cemetery Records]]
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*[[Union Cemetery Records]]  
*[[United States Death Records]]
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*[[United States Death Records]]  
*[[United States, How to Find Death Records]]
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*[[United States, How to Find Death Records]]  
*[[United States, How to Use Death Records]]
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*[[United States, How to Use Death Records]]  
*[[US War of 1812 Cemetery Records]]
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*[[US War of 1812 Cemetery Records]]  
*[[Revolutionary War Cemetery Records]]
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*[[Revolutionary War Cemetery Records]]  
*[[Burial listings for WWI, WWII, and Korean War]]
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*[[Burial listings for WWI, WWII, and Korean War]]  
*[[Sexton Records]]
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*[[Sexton Records]]  
*[[United States Occupations]]
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*[[United States Occupations]]  
*[[United States Land and Property]]
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*[[United States Land and Property]]  
 
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
 
*[[Locating United States Vital Records]]
  
For further specific information search for individual states, counties, cities and towns, for example see [[Utah Obituaries]]. You will likely find that there are many valuable sources outside of the Research Wiki. Look for links to these websites on the listed Wiki articles especially in the individual states.
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For further specific information search for individual states, counties, cities and towns, for example see [[Utah Obituaries]]. You will likely find that there are many valuable sources outside of the Research Wiki. Look for links to these websites on the listed Wiki articles especially in the individual states.  
  
===Funeral Home Records===
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=== Funeral Home Records ===
Funeral home or mortuary records may contain useful information not found on the death certificate. The records may contain a list of the surviving immediate relatives, sometimes the names of grandchildren, in-laws, and other relatives. The record could provide residences for the listed relatives. A copy of the obituary or notes used to prepare the obituary may be in the record, along with a record of newspapers where the obituary was placed. Records may also contain information regarding former residences, education, church affiliation, military service, membership in clubs, lodges and other organizations. The records may include details of the grave location or type of marker. Notes regarding the funeral services, such as the officiating minister, pallbearers, and music may also be included. Information may also include life insurance information where additional genealogical information could be obtained.
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*[[Funeral Home Records]]
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Funeral home or mortuary records may contain useful information not found on the death certificate. The records may contain a list of the surviving immediate relatives, sometimes the names of grandchildren, in-laws, and other relatives. The record could provide residences for the listed relatives. A copy of the obituary or notes used to prepare the obituary may be in the record, along with a record of newspapers where the obituary was placed. Records may also contain information regarding former residences, education, church affiliation, military service, membership in clubs, lodges and other organizations. The records may include details of the grave location or type of marker. Notes regarding the funeral services, such as the officiating minister, pallbearers, and music may also be included. Information may also include life insurance information where additional genealogical information could be obtained.
*[[United States Funeral Homes]]
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*[[Funeral Home Records]]  
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*[[United States Funeral Homes]]  
 
*[[Funeral Home Records of the United States]]
 
*[[Funeral Home Records of the United States]]
  
===Emigration and Immigration Records===
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=== Emigration and Immigration Records ===
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Emigration refers to the process of leaving a country and Immigrations refers to the opposite process of arriving and entering into the new country.  
 
Emigration refers to the process of leaving a country and Immigrations refers to the opposite process of arriving and entering into the new country.  
  
The process of emigrating from one country to another generated various records. Often a country required the emigrant to receive permission to leave. If the emigrant obeyed this law (about one-third did not), there may be an application to leave or a passport. Emigrants also had to book passage and board a vessel for the new country. Each step could have generated a record. Most emigration records give the emigrant's name, age, close relatives or traveling companions, and last place of residence (sometimes birthplace). Immigration records may contain the same types of information.
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The process of emigrating from one country to another generated various records. Often a country required the emigrant to receive permission to leave. If the emigrant obeyed this law (about one-third did not), there may be an application to leave or a passport. Emigrants also had to book passage and board a vessel for the new country. Each step could have generated a record. Most emigration records give the emigrant's name, age, close relatives or traveling companions, and last place of residence (sometimes birthplace). Immigration records may contain the same types of information.  
  
There are dozens of Research Wiki articles on this subject. Please see [[Tracing Immigrants Origin Emigration and Immigration]]<br>
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There are dozens of Research Wiki articles on this subject. Please see [[Tracing Immigrants Origin Emigration and Immigration]]<br> {{TIO}}<br>  
{{TIO}}<br>
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See also [[United States Naturalization and Citizenship]]
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See also [[United States Naturalization and Citizenship]]  
  
===Naturalization and Citizenship===
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=== Naturalization and Citizenship ===
Naturalization is the process of becoming a legally recognized citizen of a country. The naturalization process varies by country, state, and time period. The records also vary. In the United States, earlier records usually give the immigrant's name, age, and country of origin. More recent records tend to be more informative. Some records give a wealth of data about the immigrant and his or her family, including specific places of origin.
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*[[United States Naturalization and Citizenship]] includes links to each state.
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Naturalization is the process of becoming a legally recognized citizen of a country. The naturalization process varies by country, state, and time period. The records also vary. In the United States, earlier records usually give the immigrant's name, age, and country of origin. More recent records tend to be more informative. Some records give a wealth of data about the immigrant and his or her family, including specific places of origin.  
*[[Naturalization Overview]]
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*[[United States Naturalization and Citizenship]] includes links to each state.
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*[[Naturalization Overview]]
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*[[United States Passports]]
  
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See also [[Tracing Immigrant Origins]] and the further links in that article.
  
See also [[Tracing Immigrant Origins]] and the further links in that article.
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=== Military Records  ===
  
===Military Records===
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Military records are from times of war and times of peace. They identify individuals who served in the armed forces or who were eligible for service. Military records can help you learn more about your ancestors who served their country. These Wiki pages teach terminology and describe the contents, uses, and availability of major sets of records created mostly by the federal government. You can use them to learn about federal and nationwide sources. The Wiki pages discuss only sources that identify personal information about individuals in the armed forces and their units. They do not discuss historical sources about military institutions, weapons, battles, or tactics. The Wiki pages for the separate states have more information about state military records.<br>
  
===Newspapers===
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*[[Getting started in United States military records]]
  
*[[United States Newspapers]]
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{{U.S. Military}}
  
===Probate Records===
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=== Newspapers  ===
  
*[[What will I find in probate records?]]
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Newspapers may focus on the world, a nation, a state, or a small community, and may serve a general audience or a particular ethnic, religious, racial, or political group. Newspapers report family information within notices of births, marriages, and deaths (obituaries), and local news. They may include the following information:
  
See also: [[United States, How to Use Probate Records]]
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*Birth announcements may contain the infant's name, birth date, and parents' names, as well as the religion of the family.
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*Wedding announcements may contain the wedding date and place; the names of the bride, groom, bride's parents, and groom's parents; and the religion of the family.
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*Death notices and obituaries may contain the name and place of residence of close family and friends of the decedent, as well as the decedent's death date and place, birth date and place, and biographical information, such as occupation, military service, religion, schools attended, parents' names, places of residence over time, and place of origin.
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*News stories, legal notices, local personal columns and advertisements may contain nearly any information imaginable, including political or criminal activity, legal and domestic disputes, real estate transactions, business information, social contacts, military service, missing persons (including runaway slaves), or information about local disasters, epidemics, or other community milestones which affected the local population. Early local columns are more like local gossip but contain rich family information.<br>
  
===Land and Property Records===
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*[[United States Newspapers]] has links to each state, territory and Federal District
*[[United States Land and Property]]
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*[[Tracing Immigrants Origin Newspapers]]
*[[United States, How to Find and Use a Map]]
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*[[Finding Microfilmed Newspapers]]
*[[Beginning Land and Property Research]]
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*[[Digital Historical Newspapers]]
*[[Colonial Land]]
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*[[United States Obituaries]]
*[[Government Land Grants]]
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*[[Grants from the Federal Government (Public Domain)]]
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{{U.S. Newspapers}}
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=== Probate Records  ===
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Probate records are court records created after an individual's death that relate to a court's decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of dependents. This process took place whether there was a will (testate) or not (intestate). Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. You may also learn about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. Additional clues often found in probate records are an ancestor's previous residence, occupation, land ownership, household items, former spouse(s), religion, and military service. Probate records are essential for research because they often pre-date the birth and death records kept by civil authorities.
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*[[United States Probate Records]]
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*[[Glossary of United States Probate Terms]]
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*[[United States Probate Process]]
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*[[What will I find in probate records?]]
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*[[United States Probate Wills]]
 +
*[[United States Probate Limitations]]
 +
*[[Analyzing United States Probate Records]]
 +
*[[United States Court Records]]
 +
 
 +
See also: [[United States, How to Use Probate Records]]
 +
 
 +
=== Land and Property Records ===
 +
 
 +
Land records are primarily used to learn where an individual lived and when he lived there. They often reveal other family information, such as the name of a spouse, heir, other relatives, or neighbors. You may learn where a person lived previously, his occupation, if he had served in the military, if he was a naturalized citizen, and other clues for further research.
 +
 
 +
*[[Land]]
 +
*[[United States Land and Property]]  
 +
*[[United States, How to Find and Use a Map]]  
 +
*[[Beginning Land and Property Research]]  
 +
*[[Colonial Land]]  
 +
*[[Government Land Grants]]  
 +
*[[Grants from the Federal Government (Public Domain)]]  
 
*[[Homestead Records]]
 
*[[Homestead Records]]
  
===Colonial Records===
+
{{U.S. Land and Property}}
  
===Territorial Records===
+
=== Colonial Records  ===
 +
 
 +
The earliest records in colonial times date back to the European discovery of North America.
 +
 
 +
*[[United States Census Colonial]]
 +
*[[Colonial Land]]
 +
*[[Colonial Wars, 1607 to 1763]]
 +
*[[Colonial Times 1607-1789]]
 +
*[[American Colonial Probate Records]]
 +
*[[Indexes of British Colonial Slave Records]]
 +
 
 +
=== Territorial Records ===
 +
 
 +
*[[United States Census Territorial]]
 +
 
 +
=== Court Records  ===
 +
 
 +
Court records are usually searched after other records have already been investigated, but they should not be overlooked. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence. They often provide occupations, descriptions of individuals, and other excellent family history information. Searching court records can be complex and therefore, intimidating.
 +
 
 +
Every level of political jurisdiction in the United States and many government agencies and departments have their own court systems and records.
  
===Court Records===
 
 
*[[United States Court Records]]
 
*[[United States Court Records]]
  
===Town and Local Records===
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{| width="503" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" class="FCK__ShowTableBorders"
*[[United States Town Records]]
+
|-
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| valign="top" align="left" |
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*[[Image:Alabama flag.png|border|22x15px|Alabama flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Alabama Court Records|Alabama]]
 +
*[[Image:Alaska flag.png|border|22x15px|Alaska flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Alaska Court Records|Alaska]]
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*[[Image:Arizona flag.png|border|22x15px|Arizona flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Arizona Court Records|Arizona]]
 +
*[[Image:Arkansas flag.png|border|22x15px|Arkansas flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Arkansas Court Records|Arkansas]]
 +
*[[Image:California flag.png|border|22x15px|California flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[California Court Records|California]]
 +
*[[Image:Colorado flag.png|border|22x15px|Colorado flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Colorado Court Records|Colorado]]
 +
*[[Image:Connecticut flag.png|border|22x13px|Connecticut flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Connecticut Court Records|Connecticut]]
 +
*[[Image:Delaware flag.png|border|22x15px|Delaware flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Delaware Court Records|Delaware]]
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*[[Image:District of Columbia flag.png|border|22x11px|District of Columbia flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[District of Columbia Court Records|District of Columbia]]
 +
*[[Image:Florida flag.png|border|22x15px|Florida flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Florida Court Records|Florida]]
 +
*[[Image:Georgia flag.png|border|22x14px|Georgia flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Georgia Court Records|Georgia]]
 +
*[[Image:Hawaii flag.png|border|22x11px|Hawaii flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Hawaii Court Records|Hawaii]]
 +
*[[Image:Idaho flag.png|border|22x18px|Idaho flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Idaho Court Records|Idaho]]
 +
*[[Image:Illinois flag.png|border|22x13px|Illinois flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Illinois Court Records|Illinois]]
 +
*[[Image:Indiana flag.png|border|22x15px|Indiana flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Indiana Court Records|Indiana]]
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*[[Image:Iowa flag.png|border|22x15px|Iowa flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Iowa Court Records|Iowa]]
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*[[Image:Kansas flag.png|border|22x13px|Kansas flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Kansas Court Records|Kansas]]
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| valign="top" align="left" |
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*[[Image:Kentucky flag.png|border|22x15px|Kentucky flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Kentucky Court Records|Kentucky]]
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*[[Image:Louisiana flag.png|border|22x15px|Louisiana flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Louisiana Court Records|Louisiana]]
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*[[Image:Maine flag.png|border|22x15px|Maine flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Maine Court Records|Maine]]
 +
*[[Image:Maryland flag.png|border|22x15px|Maryland flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Maryland Court Records|Maryland]]
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*[[Image:Massachusetts flag.png|border|22x13px|Massachusetts flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Massachusetts Court Records|Massachusetts]]
 +
*[[Image:Michigan flag.png|border|22x15px|Michigan flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Michigan Court Records|Michigan]]
 +
*[[Image:Minnesota flag.png|border|22x14px|Minnesota flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Minnesota Court Records|Minnesota]]
 +
*[[Image:Mississippi flag.png|border|22x13px|Mississippi flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Mississippi Court Records|Mississippi]]
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*[[Image:Missouri flag.png|border|22x13px|Missouri flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Missouri Court Records|Missouri]]
 +
*[[Image:Montana flag.png|border|22x15px|Montana flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Montana Court Records|Montana]]
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*[[Image:Nebraska flag.png|border|22x13px|Nebraska flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Nebraska Court Records|Nebraska]]
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*[[Image:Nevada flag.png|border|22x15px|Nevada flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Nevada Court Records|Nevada]]
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*[[Image:New Hampshire flag.png|border|22x15px|New Hampshire flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[New Hampshire Court Records|New Hampshire]]
 +
*[[Image:New Jersey flag.png|border|22x15px|New Jersey flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[New Jersey Court Records|New Jersey]]
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*[[Image:New Mexico flag.png|border|22x15px|New Mexico flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[New Mexico Court Records|New Mexico]]
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*[[Image:New York flag.png|border|22x11px|New York flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[New York Court Records|New York]]
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*[[Image:North Carolina flag.png|border|22x15px|North Carolina flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[North Carolina Court Records|North Carolina]]
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| valign="top" align="left" |
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*[[Image:North Dakota flag.png|border|22x17px|North Dakota flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[North Dakota Court Records|North Dakota]]
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*[[Image:Ohio flag.png|border|22x14px|Ohio flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Ohio Court Records|Ohio]]
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*[[Image:Oklahoma flag.png|border|22x15px|Oklahoma flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Oklahoma Court Records|Oklahoma]]
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*[[Image:Oregon flag.png|border|22x13px|Oregon flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Oregon Court Records|Oregon]]
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*[[Image:Pennsylvania flag.png|border|22x15px|Pennsylvania flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Pennsylvania Court Records|Pennsylvania]]
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*[[Image:Rhode Island flag.png|border|21x20px|Rhode Island flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Rhode Island Court Records|Rhode Island]]
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*[[Image:South Carolina flag.png|border|22x15px|South Carolina flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[South Carolina Court Records|South Carolina]]
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*[[Image:South Dakota flag.png|border|22x13px|South Dakota flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[South Dakota Court Records|South Dakota]]
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*[[Image:Tennessee flag.png|border|22x13px|Tennessee flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Tennessee Court Records|Tennessee]]
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*[[Image:Texas flag.png|border|22x15px|Texas flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Texas Court Records|Texas]]
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*[[Image:Utah flag.png|border|22x15px|Utah flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Utah Court Records|Utah]]
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*[[Image:Vermont flag.png|border|22x13px|Vermont flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Vermont Court Records|Vermont]]
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*[[Image:Virginia flag.png|border|22x15px|Virginia flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Virginia Court Records|Virginia]]
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*[[Image:Washington flag.png|border|22x13px|Washington flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Washington Court Records|Washington]]
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*[[Image:West Virginia flag.png|border|22x12px|West Virginia flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[West Virginia Court Records|West Virginia]]
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*[[Image:Wisconsin flag.png|border|22x15px|Wisconsin flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Wisconsin Court Records|Wisconsin]]
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*[[Image:Wyoming flag.png|border|22x15px|Wyoming flag.png]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Wyoming Court Records|Wyoming]]
 +
 
 +
|}
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 +
=== Town and Local Records ===
 +
 
 +
Local histories are a valuable resource for the genealogist interested in United States genealogy and family history. Histories are available for various areas in America since its earliest settlements and colonization in the 1600s. They may be written about specific events, ethnic groups, towns, cities, counties, and states, and the United States in general and can often include limited biographies of people and families in the area. Many have been written to celebrate an anniversary such as the 100th anniversary of the founding of a town or colony.
 +
 
 +
*[[United States Town Records]]  
 
*[[United States Civil Records]]
 
*[[United States Civil Records]]
  
See also: [[United States, How to Use County and Town Records (Those Including Vital Records)]]
+
See also: [[United States, How to Use County and Town Records (Those Including Vital Records)]]  
  
===Miscellaneous Categories===
+
=== Archives and Libraries  ===
  
*[[United States Bible Records]]
+
Archives and libraries contain a wealth of information about almost every subject imaginable. Included in their collections are almost certainly documents and records valuable to genealogical research. You should always become familiar with your local, county and state libraries and archives.
*[[United States Directories]]
+
 
*[[United States Gazetteers]]
+
*[[United States Archives and Libraries]]  
*[[United States Archives and Libraries]]
+
*[[Archives and Libraries]]
*[[United States Biography]]
+
 
*[[United States Genealogy]]
+
{{U.S. Archives and Libraries}}
*[[United States Historical Geography]]
+
 
*[[United States History]]
+
=== Miscellaneous Categories  ===
*[[United States Maps]]
+
 
*[[United States Native Races]]
+
Be sure and follow the links on each page of the Research Wiki. There may be further helps through the links.
*[[United States Minorities]]
+
 
*[[United States Periodicals]]
+
*[[United States Bible Records]]  
*[[United States Societies]]
+
*[[United States Gazetteers]]  
 +
*[[United States Biography]]  
 +
*[[United States Genealogy]]  
 +
*[[United States Historical Geography]]  
 +
*[[United States History]]  
 +
*[[United States Maps]]  
 +
*[[United States Native Races]]
 +
*[[United States Native Races Part 5 - Where Do I Find Records?]]
 +
*[[Indians of the United States and Their Records]]
 +
*[[American Indians Beginning Your Search]]
 +
*[[American Indian Genealogy]]
 +
*[[United States Native Races Part 6 - What Tools Can Help My Search?]]
 +
*[[United States Native Races Part 2 - Has Someone Already Researched My Family?]]
 +
*[[American Indian Citizenship]]  
 +
*[[United States Minorities]]  
 +
*[[United States Periodicals]]  
 +
*[[United States Societies]]  
 
*[[United States Taxation]]
 
*[[United States Taxation]]
  
===References===
+
=== References ===
 +
 
 +
{{Reflist}}
  
{{Reflist}}
+
{{Place|United States}}*
  
[[Category:Help]][[Category:How to articles]]*[[Category:United States FamilySearch Historical Records]]
+
[[Category:Help]] [[Category:How_to_articles]] [[Category:United_States_FamilySearch_Historical_Records]] [[Category:Census_by_State]]
[[Category:Census by State]]
+

Revision as of 20:31, 14 March 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png How to Find Genealogy Records
See also United States Genealogy

This page contains a series of links to Research Wiki articles about how to find various types of genealogically related records in the United States. The individual articles are arranged by subject heading. The linked articles may also include links to other related articles. You may also wish to search the Wiki for "How to Find" articles from various individual states. Please feel free to add new links or update existing links as they become available.

Contents

General References

These are articles of general interest in the United States on the subject of searching and finding records.

Family Records

Searching your own and family records is always the first place to start your genealogical research. Always ask relatives, both near and distant, if they have any records or photos of the family. Look for birthday cards, wedding announcements, birth notices, certificates and public documents such as driver's licenses. See also the following articles:

Vital Records

Vital Records contain information about births, marriages and deaths. You need to know the dates and geographic areas covered by these records because information about births, marriages and deaths was recorded at different times depending on the geographic or political area.


Birth Records

Birth records might seem like the first place to start your search, but experts recommend looking into death records first and marriage records second. Followed by Birth records, because birth records are usually the most difficult to find.

See also: United States, How to Use Birth Records

Death Records

Many death records are little known and quite obscure. Be sure to look for mortuary records, burial permits, transportation records, funeral programs, obituaries, memorials and grave purchases in addition to death certificates or other formal records.

See also United States, How to Use Death Records

Marriage Records

Be sure to search for wedding announcements in newspapers, anniversary announcements in newspapers, invitations to wedding receptions, announcement of banns, church notices, as well as marriage licenses and certificates.

See also: United States, How to Use Marriage Records

Census Records

There are both national and state censuses. The United States Federal Census starts in 1790 and the latest release is for 1940. The year 1890 is only available in very limited areas due to a fire. To find if a state has census records and for what years, go to The CensusFinder. There may also be local county and city censuses.

Note: There are several complete digitized copies of the U.S. Census online, most with complete images and indexes. Some of the websites require a subscription fee to view all of the Census records.

This list is likely incomplete, please search for similar articles and see the links in those articles. See also the categories at the bottom of this article.

Directories

Directories were created for salesmen, merchants, and other interested in contacting residents of an area. They are arranged alphabetically giving lists of names and addresses. These often list the adult residents of a city or area. The most helpful directories for genealogical research are city and county directories of local residents and businesses. These are generally published annually and may include an individual's address, occupation, spouse's name, and other helpful facts. An individual's address can be very helpful when searching an unindexed census of a large city.


Church Records

The United States is a country of religious diversity. Unlike many other countries, there has been no “state church,” except for a few periods in some of the early colonies. Church records in the United States began in the early 1600s. Unfortunately, the United States did not require a civil registration or recording of births, marriages, and deaths until well into the 20th Century although some of the states began the process in the mid-1800s. Sometimes church records are the only records containing birth, marriage and death about individuals. Therefore, they are a valuable substitute when vital records do not exist.

This list contains links to general articles, please see additional articles concerning individual religions or congregations and by geographic area. For example, see Vermont Church Records.

Obituaries

An obituary may be a published or unpublished death announcement. A particular obituary can be a simple two line death notice or an elaborate biography of the deceased. Obituaries may be a good source of information about a person and may also include information about family members. Obituaries usually give the name of the deceased and the death or burial date. They may also contain information such as the birth date, marriage date, names of parents and spouse, children, occupation, education, and the location of living family members at the time the obituary was written. Obituaries are usually printed in a funeral program, a newspaper or in a local history.

Obituaries have only recently begun appearing online. Collections of obituaries may only go back as far as the 1960s or 1970s. Before those dates, you may have to do a search in newspaper collections.

For further specific information search for individual states, counties, cities and towns, for example see Utah Obituaries. Also remember to search newspapers in the city, county and state where the person lived or died. See United States Newspapers.

Cemetery Records

Cemetery or burial records are sometimes called permits for burial. These records often include birth, marriage, and death information. The records can sometimes provide clues about military service, religion, or membership in an organization, such as a lodge. These records are especially helpful for identifying children who died young or women who were not recorded in family or government documents. Check the sexton's records, or visit the cemetery in person to see if other relatives are in the same or adjoining plots. To find tombstone or sexton records, you need to know where an individual was buried. The person may have been buried in a community, church, private, military, or family cemetery, usually near the place where he lived or died or where other family members were buried. You can find clues to burial places in funeral notices, obituaries, church records, funeral home records, death records and County deeds.

For further specific information search for individual states, counties, cities and towns, for example see Utah Obituaries. You will likely find that there are many valuable sources outside of the Research Wiki. Look for links to these websites on the listed Wiki articles especially in the individual states.

Funeral Home Records

Funeral home or mortuary records may contain useful information not found on the death certificate. The records may contain a list of the surviving immediate relatives, sometimes the names of grandchildren, in-laws, and other relatives. The record could provide residences for the listed relatives. A copy of the obituary or notes used to prepare the obituary may be in the record, along with a record of newspapers where the obituary was placed. Records may also contain information regarding former residences, education, church affiliation, military service, membership in clubs, lodges and other organizations. The records may include details of the grave location or type of marker. Notes regarding the funeral services, such as the officiating minister, pallbearers, and music may also be included. Information may also include life insurance information where additional genealogical information could be obtained.

Emigration and Immigration Records

Emigration refers to the process of leaving a country and Immigrations refers to the opposite process of arriving and entering into the new country.

The process of emigrating from one country to another generated various records. Often a country required the emigrant to receive permission to leave. If the emigrant obeyed this law (about one-third did not), there may be an application to leave or a passport. Emigrants also had to book passage and board a vessel for the new country. Each step could have generated a record. Most emigration records give the emigrant's name, age, close relatives or traveling companions, and last place of residence (sometimes birthplace). Immigration records may contain the same types of information.

There are dozens of Research Wiki articles on this subject. Please see Tracing Immigrants Origin Emigration and Immigration


See also United States Naturalization and Citizenship

Naturalization and Citizenship

Naturalization is the process of becoming a legally recognized citizen of a country. The naturalization process varies by country, state, and time period. The records also vary. In the United States, earlier records usually give the immigrant's name, age, and country of origin. More recent records tend to be more informative. Some records give a wealth of data about the immigrant and his or her family, including specific places of origin.

See also Tracing Immigrant Origins and the further links in that article.

Military Records

Military records are from times of war and times of peace. They identify individuals who served in the armed forces or who were eligible for service. Military records can help you learn more about your ancestors who served their country. These Wiki pages teach terminology and describe the contents, uses, and availability of major sets of records created mostly by the federal government. You can use them to learn about federal and nationwide sources. The Wiki pages discuss only sources that identify personal information about individuals in the armed forces and their units. They do not discuss historical sources about military institutions, weapons, battles, or tactics. The Wiki pages for the separate states have more information about state military records.


Newspapers

Newspapers may focus on the world, a nation, a state, or a small community, and may serve a general audience or a particular ethnic, religious, racial, or political group. Newspapers report family information within notices of births, marriages, and deaths (obituaries), and local news. They may include the following information:

  • Birth announcements may contain the infant's name, birth date, and parents' names, as well as the religion of the family.
  • Wedding announcements may contain the wedding date and place; the names of the bride, groom, bride's parents, and groom's parents; and the religion of the family.
  • Death notices and obituaries may contain the name and place of residence of close family and friends of the decedent, as well as the decedent's death date and place, birth date and place, and biographical information, such as occupation, military service, religion, schools attended, parents' names, places of residence over time, and place of origin.
  • News stories, legal notices, local personal columns and advertisements may contain nearly any information imaginable, including political or criminal activity, legal and domestic disputes, real estate transactions, business information, social contacts, military service, missing persons (including runaway slaves), or information about local disasters, epidemics, or other community milestones which affected the local population. Early local columns are more like local gossip but contain rich family information.


Probate Records

Probate records are court records created after an individual's death that relate to a court's decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of dependents. This process took place whether there was a will (testate) or not (intestate). Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. You may also learn about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. Additional clues often found in probate records are an ancestor's previous residence, occupation, land ownership, household items, former spouse(s), religion, and military service. Probate records are essential for research because they often pre-date the birth and death records kept by civil authorities.

See also: United States, How to Use Probate Records

Land and Property Records

Land records are primarily used to learn where an individual lived and when he lived there. They often reveal other family information, such as the name of a spouse, heir, other relatives, or neighbors. You may learn where a person lived previously, his occupation, if he had served in the military, if he was a naturalized citizen, and other clues for further research.


Colonial Records

The earliest records in colonial times date back to the European discovery of North America.

Territorial Records

Court Records

Court records are usually searched after other records have already been investigated, but they should not be overlooked. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence. They often provide occupations, descriptions of individuals, and other excellent family history information. Searching court records can be complex and therefore, intimidating.

Every level of political jurisdiction in the United States and many government agencies and departments have their own court systems and records.

Town and Local Records

Local histories are a valuable resource for the genealogist interested in United States genealogy and family history. Histories are available for various areas in America since its earliest settlements and colonization in the 1600s. They may be written about specific events, ethnic groups, towns, cities, counties, and states, and the United States in general and can often include limited biographies of people and families in the area. Many have been written to celebrate an anniversary such as the 100th anniversary of the founding of a town or colony.

See also: United States, How to Use County and Town Records (Those Including Vital Records)

Archives and Libraries

Archives and libraries contain a wealth of information about almost every subject imaginable. Included in their collections are almost certainly documents and records valuable to genealogical research. You should always become familiar with your local, county and state libraries and archives.


Miscellaneous Categories

Be sure and follow the links on each page of the Research Wiki. There may be further helps through the links.

References