West Virginia Births (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: West Virginia Births, 1853-1930 .
This Collection will include records from 1853 to 1930.
Birth entries were recorded in pre-printed register books containing many entries per page beginning in 1853. Earlier records were handwritten, but were usually typewritten by 1930.
Clerks of each County Court recorded births that were reported by parents, doctors and midwives beginning in 1853. The state of West Virginia began collecting births from the counties in 1917. From 1853-1879, about 15% of the births were recorded; from 1880-1920, coverage increased to about 65%. By 1925, nearly 100% of the births were recorded.
The state required counties to begin recording births to document the occurrence of a birth and to track public health issues. Delayed registration of births allowed persons whose birth was not recorded to obtain a birth certificate, usually in order to receive government benefits.
The birth date and place, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the birth occurred are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. Other data such as the parents' age or birth place have a greater chance of error because they are based on the memory of the informant.
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.
- County Court Clerks in West Virginia. Births. West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
County birth records contain some or all of these genealogical facts:
- Name of the child
- Birth date and place
- Registration date
- Color or race
- Father's name, occupation and residence
- Mother's name and residence (maiden name sometimes given)
- Father and mother's age, color, nationality and birthplace
- Whether the child was born dead
- Number of children in this birth
- Total number of children born to this mother and number now living
- Informant's name, address and relationship
How to Use the Records
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- Child's name
- Other identifying information such as birth date and place or parent's names
Search the Collection
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible ancestors. Compare the information in the list to what you already know about your ancestor to determine which individual is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination. Next, click on your ancestor's name. Next, click on your ancestor's name. This will take you to a descriptive page with a link to the partner site with the images.
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.
- 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.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- 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 locate your ancestor, try searching various spellings of the 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
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.