Massachusetts State Vital Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841-1920 .
- 1 Record Description
- 2 Record Content
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Known Issues with This Collection
- 5 Related Websites
- 6 Related Wiki Articles
- 7 Contributions to This Article
- 8 Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
This collection includes births, marriages, and deaths from 1916 to 1920, as well as state amendments to vital records from 1841 to 1920. The records were obtained from the state archives in Boston.
For a list of events and an alphabetical list of names currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
For a detailed guide to Massachusetts Vital Records, see the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide for that topic.
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, State Vital Records, 1841-1920." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Secretary of the Commonwealth. State Archives, Boston.
Information found in birth records may include:
- Date and place of record
- Date and place of birth
- Name of child
- Gender and race
- Names of parents
- Residence of parents
- Occupation of father
- Birthplace of father
- Birthplace of mother
- Family History Library Microfilm and item numbers for the source materials
Information found in marriage records may include:
- Date and place of marriage
- Full names of bride and groom
- Residences of each
- Ages of each
- Occupation of groom
- Birthplace(s) of bride and groom
- Name of bride's and groom’s parents
- Number of marriages
Information found in death records may include:
- Date of death
- Name of deceased
- Gender, race, and marital status
- Age of deceased in years, months and days
- Cause of death
- Residence or place of death
- Occupation of deceased
- Place of birth
- Parents' names
- Parents' birthplace
- Burial information
How to Use the Record
When searching for your ancestor's record, it is helpful to know the following:
- The type of event (birth, marriage, or death)
- The name at the time of the event
- Other identifying information such as the approximate date and place of the event
Search the Collection
To search the collection:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Category" link
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Type, Date Range, Volume, Town Range" link which takes you to the images
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 birth date or age along with the place of birth to find or verify their 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 (while he or she was a child) to locate church and land records
- Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment records or military records.
- The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
- The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records, which often include the names and residences of other family members.
- 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.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- Information listed on vital records was given by an informant. Learn the relationship of the informant to your ancestor. The closer the relationship of the informant to the ancestor and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
- The information in these 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 one record to another record.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Look for an index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
General Information About These Records
Early Massachusetts vital records were recorded by town clerks. Records of births, marriages, and deaths to 1850 for about 215 towns have been published. Most of these are on microfilm and microfiche at the Family History Library. These often include information from town, church, cemetery, county, and other records. Although records of about 100 towns have not been published in book form, many of these records have been published in periodicals such as the Mayflower Descendant, with concentration on Plymouth, Bristol, and Barnstable Counties.
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.
- Massachusetts Genealogy
- Access Genealogy Massachusetts Genealogy
- GeneaLinks Massachusetts
- GeneaSearch Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Genealogical Council
- Wikiprocedure - Procedures to get birth, death, marriage and divorce certificate.
Related Wiki Articles
- Massachusetts History
- Massachusetts Vital Records
- Massachusetts Births and Christenings (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Massachusetts Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Massachusetts Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Contributions to This Article
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
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, State Vital Records, 1841-1920
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.