United States, Public Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: United States Public Records .

Record Description

This collection is an index of names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, and possible relatives of people who resided in the United States between 1970 and 2010. Not everyone who lived in the United States during this time will appear in the index. These records were generated from telephone directories, property tax assessments, credit applications, and other records available to the public. Birth information may be included for those residents born primarily between 1900 and 1990.

These records have been gathered from multiple sources. The original sources are not available.

Record Content

The content varies by record. You may find any of the following:

  • Name
  • Name variations
  • Address or residence
  • Birth date
  • Phone numbers
  • Possible relatives

How to Use the Record

To search the collection by name 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 relatives to determine if this is related to you. 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 relative’s name.
  • Your relative may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.

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

Using the Information

When you have located your relative’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details about your family. The information may also lead you to other records about your family. The following examples show ways you can use the information:

  • Use the information to search for other collections in FamilySearch.org.
  • Use the information to collaborate with family members to do genealogical research.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • If you are unable to locate other family members, check for variant spellings of their names.

Additional Information About This Collection

In the United States public records comprise an important class of genealogical sources. Public records are most often records collected and subsequently released by local, state, and federal government agencies. Many genealogists are familiar with public records such as the Federal Census and Social Security Death Index.

Other types of public records exist and often go underutilized by genealogists. Examples include county tax assessments, property liens, driver licenses, hunting licenses, civil and criminal court records, vehicle registrations, and voter registrations. In addition to public records generated by government agencies, corporations and private organizations also collect and disseminate records about individuals. Examples of these include telephone and address listings, credit applications, and membership directories.

Public records are most useful to genealogists by providing information about a person's residence, often with associated dates of residence – much like a census record. These “residence events” are critical clues and help a genealogist find other records about individuals and families as research can be more narrowly focused to specific counties, cities, and even neighborhoods. Public records databases often contain a conglomeration of many different public records sources and can be combined to reveal individuals who lived at a common address at the same time – giving clues to possible family relationships. Additionally, public records frequently contain telephone numbers and even birthdates. These records can be extremely helpful in placing individuals and families in time and locality and lead directly to the discovery of other sources such as cemetery, church, school, and vital records. Genealogists often use public records databases to identify and contact distant cousins for DNA research and kinship determination projects.

How to Remove Records from the U.S. Public Records Collection

The United States Public Records collection, found on FamilySearch.org, is provided by a 3rd party affiliate. All requests for record removal must be made through that site. The record removals will be reflected at the FamilySearch site as updates are received from our affiliate.

To remove your information from this collection:

1. Search at FamilySearch.org for the record you would like to have removed from the public records collection.
2. Select the person you would like to have removed.
3. Double click on the name to open the Record Details page. Make note of the Record Number at the bottom. Example: 87654329
4. ADD the RECORD NUMBER found on FamilySearch behind the pid= on the URL below Example: http://www.peoplefinders.com/manage/?partner=familysearch&pid= 87654329 IMPORTANT: Following this step ensures that your record will be removed both from the PeopleFinders site AND the FamilySearch site
5. Open a browser and copy the URL (containing your record number) into the address bar. This will take you to the Manage Your Public Records page at PeopleFinders.com
6. Starting at the Manage Your Public Records page, follow the online Opt Out process instructions:
a. Enter your search information and then click Find My Listing
b. Click the This is Me button when you have located the correct record
c. On the Set Your Privacy Preferences page, click the Opt out my Info button.
d. Complete the Security Check and Terms check boxes
e. Click Continue to complete the opt out process. After the information is removed from the partner site, the next update to FamilySearch will remove the information.

NOTE: If your request of PeopleFinders to remove your information is made before the last business day of the month, your information should be removed from the FamilySearch website after the 10th day of the following month.

Related Websites

United States Free Public Records Nationwide

Related Wiki Articles

United States

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

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

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.

"United States Public Records." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing MyRelatives.com, a third party aggregator of publicly available information.