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Genealogy Resources That May Tell Your Ancestor's Birth

By, Robin Foster

Civil registrations for births is only one way you may discover the date or place of birth of your ancestor. You will need other resources if your ancestor was born before births were officially recorded. It is also suggested that you look for two or three resources before you come to a final conclusion. Below are a few examples of records that may help you.

1. Death certificate of your ancestor

Deaths for Pittsburg, Pennsylvania are online at FamilySearch from 1870 through 1905. Martha Holmes died in Pittsburg, and her death certificate listed her parents names. It also gives a clue about where she was born: Virginia. This information is only as good as the informant's memory, but it might lead to more information.

"Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Sep 2014), 0505869 (004275257) > image 47 of 876; citing Allegheny County Courthouse.

2. Marriage record of your ancestor

Below is the marriage record of Upton Benson and Cynthia Roger from February 20, 1905 which took place in Los Angeles, California. This is an indexed record in the California County Marriages 1850-1952 Collection.

If you stopped here and did not look any further, you would miss that fact that the orginal record has more details. In the description of this collection, you learn more about the record content which explains that the birthplace of the bride and groom may be on the original record.

3. Census record of your ancestor

Pay attention to the what is listed on the census as far as where your ancestor was born, where the father was born, and where the mother was born. Compare this information with other familiy members.

You might discover that all of the children in the family had a father born in one place, but one child's father was born in a different place. What can you glean from that? Verify it.

You may discover that the older children were born in a different place than the younger children. Where did the parents most likely get married, In the place where the younger children were born? Wrong!

If you see that you ancestor was born in a different place than he is living, where would you look for his parents? These are all questions that can be more easily answered when we look at the births listed on the census more carefully.

The 1900 Census shows Ella Williamson as the niece to Mr. Duncan who was born in Ireland. Answer these questions using the screenshot of the census below: - Is Ella's father living in the house?

- Is Ella's mother living in the house?

- Is Ella's brother or sister living in the house?

- In 1880, where might Ella be living?

"United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Sep 2014), Ohio > Ashland > ED 10 Montgomery Township Ashland village Ward 1 > image 19 of 26; citing NARA microfilm publication T623.

4. Old family bible

Old family Bibles used to be a very common place people recorded important family events like deaths, marriages, and births. Bibles are being transcribed into books and online databases. You still need to search for other documentation to verify a Bible record. This is a screenshot of births recorded in the Beach family bible (Ohio and Iowa) at

Did you enjoy learning about these reocrds that document birth? Let me know, and I will share a few more in the next post! Join us on Genealogy! Just Ask!

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