Virginia Vital Records

Virginia birth and death records from 1912 to the present, divorce records since 1918 and marriage records since 1936 are now available in an index form. Click here to access indexed information on open records.  In Virginia, death, marriage and divorce data become “public” information 25 years after the event; birth data are “public” after 100 years.

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the completion of a two-year, public-private collaboration between the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Ancestry.com that fully digitizes the state’s vital records. To date, more than 16 million records have been digitized and indexed. Scanned images of the original, public* documents are available online through Ancestry.com. Access to the indexed information on the records is available free of charge through VDH’s Division of Vital Records’ and the Library of Virginia’s websites.

To view the actual record, you will need a membership to Ancestry.com.

Example of Index entry

birth-records-index

Virginia records available through FamilySearch.org include:

Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917 – Name index to birth, baptism and christening records from the state of Virginia. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. No images are available.

Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912 – Name index to death and burial records from the state of Virginia Deaths. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers. This set contains 785,241 records. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. No images are available.

Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940 – Name index to marriage records from the state of Virginia. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and Family History Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. No images are available.

The FamilySearch indexes do give you more information.

Tennessee Family Bible Records

According to the Genealogy in Time newsletter,

the Tennessee State Public Library has put online a collection of some 1,500 family bibles that the library has been collecting since the 1920s. The collection consists of scans of all the pages in the bibles that contain notations such as dates of birth, baptism and marriage of various family members. In Tennessee, birth certificates were not required until 1908, making this collection particularly valuable for anyone with Tennessee ancestors (interesting fact: the US government still accepts a list of births in a family bible as one proof of citizenship).

When using Bible records, a number of things you should take into consideration include:

  • The information has NOT been checked to ascertain whether it is valid or not.
  • Families MAY have altered the date of a marriage in the Bible to make it look like the children were NOT conceived out of wedlock.
  • If the cause of death is included in the Bible, it may be different than the official record.
  • Some wealthy families may have also recorded the names and dates of birth of their slaves.

Top 10 Genealogy Mistakes to Avoid

I’m always telling folks that once you get the “genealogy bug” it is ADDICTIVE.  As a hobby, it can be fascinating as well as frustrating but very addictive.  Each step you take in researching your family can lead you to new ancestors. Sometimes you may even find stories about your ancestors and sometimes you may find things you might rather not know. If you are new to genealogy research or even if you are an old timer, there are ten key mistakes you might want to avoid to make your search successful.

Kimberly Powell advises:

Don’t Forget Your Living Relatives – YOUR family members are  YOUR most important source, and often the only source for the stories which bring our family history to life. Make sure you talk to them BEFORE they are gone.

Don’t Trust Everything You See in Print –  In your searching, you may have come across a written genealogy on your family or a family tree on the Internet.  Just because it has been  written down or published does not necessarily mean that it is correct. Everyone from professional genealogists to your own family members can make mistakes! Transcriptions of various records – censuses, cemetery records, wills, etc can also contain errors. How many times have you seen a census record that was transcribed and then looked at the actual records and found something totally different? The Internet is a valuable genealogy research tool, but Internet data, like other published sources, should be approached with skepticism.It too can contain errors and in some cases is totally wrong.

[Read more…]

Online newspaper archives

Wikipedia has  a list of free and subscription digital online newspaper archives. Most are scanned from microfilm into pdf, gif or similar graphic formats and many of the graphic archives have been indexed into searchable text databases utilizing optical character recognition (OCR) technology. Some newspapers do not allow access to the OCR-converted text until it is proofread. Older newspapers are still in image format, and newer newspapers are available as full text that can be cut and pasted. Most text is in ASCII, some are using Unicode for diacritical marks not available in ASCII. Google now indexes many newspaper archives.

Historical Newspapers Online is a collection of newspapers listed by states and is part of the Penn Libraries collections.

Chonicling America is a collection of over 600 newspapers from 30 states published between the 1830s and 1922, and it continues to grow rapidly.  Backed by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, these newspapers are all freely available.   Although each state on the newspapers by state listing indicates if Chronicling America includes newspapers from it, this site also allows you to search all Chronicling America newspapers simultaneously.

Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records

This week when I received Dick Eastman’s latest edition of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, I was reminded of a site I had not visited in some time. The Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records website created by Joe Beine for genealogists has been available for some time and is regularly updated.

The site does NOT contain any searchable databases but lists in an easy to use format databases that are available for searching. He also indicates which ones are free and which ones are subscriber based. The listings are arranged by state and the counties within that state. He has included death records, death certificate indexes, death notices & registers, obituaries, probate indexes, and cemetery & burial records. You can see a sample of the types of record listings available for the state of Vermont, one I use quite often in researching my mother’s family line.

Screenshot online death records for Vermont.
Screenshot online death records for Vermont.

Visit Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records