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US: Vital Records, Understanding and Using The Records
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NOTE: This course requires compulsory materials to be ordered. Please click on the Supplies tab for details.

Examining Birth, Marriage, & Death records and how they can expand your family tree. Birth, marriage and death records in the United States will be examined to show how much information is available in them. The history of when they began to be recorded in various places and the depth of the information in them over time will be discussed. The recording of vital statistics was most often done at the time the event occurred, which means the information is often of high accuracy. However, problems with accuracy will be explored.

The various administrative levels (municipal, county, and state) at which these records were kept and the repositories (archives and libraries) where they may now be found will be described. Published vital records will also be discussed. Suggestions for using the Internet for researching vital statistics records will be provided.

The objectives of this course:
  • Understanding the creation of vital records in the United States
  • Locating vital records in the United States
  • Evaluating information in these records
  • Creating a research plan based on availability of records
  • Securing documents needed to prove your family lineage


    Course Content

    Module 1
    Introduction
    Note about Web Addresses
    Websites
    Before We Get Started
    Reference Books & Sites
    Understanding & Using Vital Records
    Creation of Vital Records in the United Statesv
    Birth Records
    Marriage/Divorce Records
    Online Databases
    Points of Reference For Documents
    Birth Records
    Marriage Records
    Death Certificates
    Bible Records

    Module 2
    20th and 21st Century Death Records
    Websites
    Introduction
    Death Indexes
    Cemetery Indexes & Photos
    Research Plan
    Newspaper/Obituary Websites
    Social Security Death Index
    Resources
    Church Records
    Family Bibles
    Probate Records
    Funeral Home Records
    Additional Resourcesv

    Module 3
    Locating a Death Date
    Websites
    Introduction
    U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules
    Information on the Mortality Schedules
    USGenWeb
    Other Death Indexes Online
    Headstones and Cemetery Indexes
    Family History Library and FamilySearch
    Further Information
    Newspapers
    Newspapers Online
    Work Progress Administration

    Module 4
    Marriage Records
    Websites
    Introduction
    Finding The Marriage Date And Location
    Gathering Necessary Information From Census Schedules
    Record Keeping
    Terms To Be Aware Of
    Officiating Body And Place Of Marriage
    Newspaper Research
    Locating The Original Records
    State Archives
    More Reference Material For Marriage Records
    Divorce Records
    Bible Records
    Church Records
    Another Avenue To Find Records

    Module 5
    Birth Records
    Websites
    Locating the Birth Records
    Delayed Birth Certificates
    Cite the Document
    Church Records
    Skill Builder
    Newspapers
    Court Records
    Military Records
    Using the Ancestry.com Databases

    Module 6
    Researching Other Records
    Websites
    Court Records
    Courts By State
    Obituary Research
    Military Records
    Important Military Dates
    An Example of "Following the Leads"
    Additional Internet Resources For Military Research
    Passport Applications
    Immigration & Emigration Records
    Naturalization Records
    Ships Lists
    Passenger Ship Resources
    Lineage Societies
    Criminal Records
    Census Records
    Appendix
    Listing of State and Territories Archives
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